If you were setting up a business in thirty years ago, the concept of the Internet, the world wide web and, heaven forbid, social media, wouldn’t even enter your thinking. Your entrepreneurial strategy would be taken up with print marketing strategies, cold calling and leaflet drops to get your name out there. Nowadays, if you are setting out on the road to small business ownership, you are embarking on an online venture. Google will quickly become your best friend, you will end up outsourcing core business functions off site, tapping into a new realm of expertise not available within your company, and your thinking will be dominated by the digital rather than the traditional.
There are more small businesses than ever before being created year on year. However, according to forbes.com, a massive 80% of these don’t survive their first eighteen months of trading. Why is this? There is no doubt a combination of factors that could find their roots in business strategy, marketing or financial factors. One common facet of any successful business in the twenty-first century is the need for an effective online presence. This means having a strong competitive voice online, being easy to find and having your fingers in many social media pies. As well as this, your business needs a website – a little area of the Internet that is yours and that your customers can visit to purchase products, hire your services or get in touch with you. It may sound easy to sign up to one of the ubiquitous drag and drop website builders, purchase a domain name, and away you go. However, for your website to be effective and generate leads that convert to sales, there are a wealth of pitfalls that you need to avoid.
Absence of SEO
Search engine optimisation is the tool that allows Google to locate your website. You could have all the bells and whistles on your homepage with awesome graphics, a menu that is easy to navigate and high-quality content, yet if no one can locate your website online, what’s the point? SEO is a daunting beast to tackle if you don’t have the expertise required and it pays to source the services of a company that specialises in getting the keywords right to see your website rank highly on the pages of Google. According to mediatribe.com.au, the average close rate of leads generated by search engines is a whopping 22%. This is a huge market that your company needs to be tapping into if you want to compete with the market leaders in your field.
Without adequate SEO, your website and your business will become lost out on the Internet sea. By outsourcing this seemingly small but infinitely important aspect to your website design, you’ll be ensuring that your business is visible and relevant in an online world.
Don’t Play Hard To Get
It is ridiculously frustrating when you find the website and the company that you’re after, but you can’t find any contact information on any of their web pages. You hunt high and low scrolling from the top to the bottom of every page, clicking on every drop down menu and rolling your cursor over every link only to discover there’s no contact page. All a customer needs is an email address, a form or phone number to be able to contact you. It’s vital that you make this information easy to find on every single page of your site. Without it, you will lose potential customers through sheer frustration.
Lack Of Consistent Design
You want your website to have a sleek look, a professional design and a touch of creative flair. This doesn’t mean that you need to utilise every font from Arial to Verdana and apply a splash of every colour of the rainbow on each page of your site. An eyesore of a website will immediately put potential buyers off and will drive traffic away from your business and into the arms of another.
Ensure that your website takes its design aspects from your logo. Use the same colours across your site and the same fonts. Be wary of using too much flash enabled content which may slow your website loading time down. If you are working in a creative industry such as interior design, fashion or photography, it’s more important that your website retains some design integrity. Opt for sleek lines, geometric uniformity and follow the same pattern on each web page.
Don’t Frustrate Your Market
There are some key things that your website shouldn’t do to ensure that you keep your potential clients happy. Don’t make the links on your website open up new windows, make sure they open new tabs. Windows become laborious to navigate and can become frustrating. If there are multiple windows open and a customer wants to locate their ‘basket’ or ‘payment’ page but can’t, they may just give up and go elsewhere.
Don’t try and be sneaky and prevent the visitors to your website from going backward. Disabling the back button serves no purpose. The browser simply remaining where it is will lead to your traffic clicking the little x in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
If you have broken links on your website, get them fixed. There’s nothing worse than customers clicking on a link only to find a bad gateway or error message. If you have high-quality content, it needs to be visible at all times. Test your website frequently and fix any faults as and when they arise.
No Social Media Links
You need to make sure that your website, your blog and your social media channels are in sync. Each one should link to the others to create a comprehensive online presence. Traffic from your Facebook page or Twitter feed can be driven towards your website and vice versa. To generate meaningful leads and subsequent sales, each of your social media avenues needs to lead to your website.
Having a strong online presence is vital for any emerging business. If you want to be one of the 20% of companies that survives their first eighteen months of trading, you need to ensure that you have a website that is intuitive, laden with SEO and is easy to navigate. Get this right, and your business has every chance of success.
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