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In the movie “Field Of Dreams”, it was suggested, “Build it and they will come…”
When the Internet first got started and search engine started to appear everywhere, this phrase was tossed around as if it were the answer to all of your website promotion needs…
Of course, website promotion is never that easy…
With billions and billions of web pages on the Internet, it simply is not realistic to expect that if you build your website you will have thousands of customers pouring through your site and buying what you are selling.
But this article is not about website promotion… It is however an article about building a better local business website, so that your future website promotions will bring profits to your business, instead of advertising losses.
Each month, there are an estimated 20 billion searches conducted online… Of those searches, 40% or 8 billion of them are estimated to have a Local Intent, according to Mystic Mountain Media.
What that means to you, the business owner, is that your prospective customers are turning to the Internet to find your business.
If your off-line business does not have an online presence, then you are allowing your competitors sole access to the people who may prefer to buy from you.
Be Aware Of Your Company’s Image Online
When I visit local websites from my area — websites that I found doing local search — I am always surprised to find that most business owners, even the business owners who have five figure advertising budgets on the radio or on TV, spend very little money to build an online presence for their company.
In fact, many of the websites I have seen in the local marketplace have a look and feel to them that would suggest that the business owner paid his or her 13-year-old nephew to build a website, or worse, they decided to save the money and build the website themselves.
In the modern world of advertising, your website has great potential to deliver new customers to your business.
But, many people forget that a website needs to build consumer confidence, and it should be focused on driving sales conversions.
When a website looks like it was designed by 13-year-old, how much confidence would you expect that website to give a consumer?
It is like going to your local pharmacy and discovering that the pharmacist really isn’t sure what drugs are in each bottle. Would you buy your prescriptions from that pharmacist, or would you quickly turn on your heels and walk out of the store quickly, never to return again? Even when the pharmacist passes away, and the pharmacy changes hands, the stigma of the hapless pharmacist will stay in your mind forever.
“Pretty” Websites Are Not The Answer
Please don’t understand this advice to suggest that “pretty” is all you really need.
Some websites are actually too pretty.
For example, some website owners decide that they need a pretty, fancy Flash movie on the landing page of their website.
There are two primary issues with a Flash movie on the homepage of a website:
- Frequently, it will prevent the search engines from accessing the rest of your website; and
- You are forcing your visitors to watch a movie that only proves how much money you are willing to spend to create a movie for your website… The problem is that many people landing on your website really don’t care how much money you have to spend on website design, you are wasting their time, and you are making them jump through hoops to get to the information that they really want to know.
If you think that a flash movie will be really important to your website visitors, then you should provide a link to the movie, in order to let them watch it if they desire to watch it.
The webmasters who most often choose the Flash movie as an introduction to their website are the corporate giants, whose a brand names everyone recognizes.
As a local business owner, don’t make the mistake of believing that your website should look like you are a corporate giant, with deep pockets…
Understanding The Visual Elements Of Your Website
“Pretty” is not the actual goal in building a website.
“Visually Attractive” is the true goal them building a website, just for the sake of letting your prospective customers know that you are not so cheap that you have to employ children to build your website.
You do not want people to land on your website and to be distracted by the images on the page… You want people to land on your website, able to focus exclusively on your marketing message.
Bad websites cause visitors to start looking at how bad a website really is. Causing them to question your competence as a business person.
Overly complicated or overdone websites cause visitors to wonder how big your ego really is.
Both outcomes distract your visitors from what you want them to do. Too much or too little both serve to hurt the ability of your website to convert your visitors into paying customers.
For example, just last week, I was looking for a service company to do some work in my home. One of the websites I landed on, had a huge image that looked like it was hand-drawn by the owner of the business. The problem was not the hand-drawn image, but rather the fact that it took up one third of the visual space on the web page. The only information that the website was able to convey to me besides a hand-drawn image was the local telephone numbers.
There was no room left on the page for the business owner to tell me anything about his or her business and why I should hire them to do my work.
Your Marketing Message Is That Important.
The visual design elements of your web page should provide nothing more than a placeholder for your marketing message.
When prospects land on your website, they are looking for two very important pieces of information. They are looking for an answer to the questions:
- “What can you do for me?” and
- “Why should I hire your company?”
If your website fails to answer these two very important questions, then your website will have failed to reach its true potential and purpose.
I would also argue that your website should accomplish one more goal.
For tracking purposes, your website should also encourage potential customers to tell you that they found your company through your website… This will let you know whether your website is actually serving any real purpose in your marketing endeavors.
Far too often, website owners want to believe that their customers want to know all about the company’s owner.
This is a trap that you should avoid.
Every person on the planet shares one common trait. Every person on the planet has a favorite topic of conversation — themselves.
While you enjoy talking about yourself, your prospective customer does not care.
Just as your favorite topic of conversation is you, your prospective clients favorite topic of conversation is them.
Your prospective customer could care less about you. The only thing that they care about when they are viewing your website is what you can do for them.
So it is very important at all times to remember that your marketing message should stay focused on the needs of your prospective clients.
If you want a page on your website to brag about you, build an About Us page for your website… Otherwise, stop talking about you and start talking about the needs of your prospective clients
Stand Apart From Your Competition By Serving The Needs Of Your Prospective Customers
After having read this article, you may be saying to yourself that your website is doing everything it is supposed to be doing and doing it in the right way.
I hope this is true… There is nothing more painful to watch than self-delusion.
Ironically, even in the Internet Marketing profession, the lessons served in this article are seldom understood by those who build websites.
Web designers tend to be “artists”, and that often precludes them from being good business people, who understand their target market and the needs of their customers.
When you hire a web designer to build your website for you, keep this in mind. It is not that your Web designer wants to steer you wrong, but they are artists, not business people.
Often when I hire a website designer, I make it a point to subdivide the work… In other words, I hire one company to do my website graphic design and I hire a different company to write my sales copy — my marketing message.
I let the artist be an artist, and I let the professional sales copywriter do what he or she does best — the writing.
But at every point in the process, I keep in mind that my website serves a purpose. My website serves the purpose of attracting potential clients to it and convincing my prospects to purchase while I am selling. And hopefully, I can do it in such a way as to encourage my buyers to tell me how they found my company, so that I will know which advertising is producing the best results for my business.
I hope that you have found the lessons in this article to be instructive to you in a way that will help you develop a website that will be productive for your business.
Too many marketers jump straight into promotions before they have laid a solid foundation for their business.
If you start spending money on promotions now, before you have built a website that will encourage sales conversion, you are honestly flushing your marketing resources down the toilet.
If you build a solid foundation for your business’ online presence, then your advertising budget will be money well spent.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also enjoy reading the following article, “SEO Lessons from Local Businesses“.
Bill Platt is the owner of The Phantom Writers, a company that has been providing article syndication services online since 2001.
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