For any small business, your website is often the heart of your online marketing. But what are some of the website basics for a small business, and is your website really doing all it can to help attract and convert prospects into customers?
Or, are you losing visitors – and leads – because your website is missing important information or features? Make sure your site includes these 10 elements of a successful small business website.
1. Clearly Visible Contact Information
What is the primary action you want website visitors to take when they visit your site? If you want them to call, request more information, or visit your location, it’s absolutely critical to list accurate, updated contact information in a visible location on your website. This may seem like an obvious tip, but this is a big problem for many small business websites In fact, 60% of small- to medium-size businesses in the U.S. are missing a contact number on their home page, and roughly 75% of websites don’t list an email address!
To make sure your website visitors aren’t sent on a wild goose chase looking for contact information, make sure to at least include a phone number on each page of your website. If you don’t want to place your contact information on each page, consider this solution: build a web page that provides all of your important contact information, including phone number, email address, location with a map, and hours of operation. Then add a “Contact Us” button as part of your website design template or footer to make sure this is included on every page. At the very least, include your contact information on every landing page consumers visit after they click on your search ads or display ads. The more ways consumers can contact you, the better your chance of winning their business.
2. Contact Forms
Contact forms are the online data forms that prospects fill out in order to request information from you. They also serve as a lead-generation tool. But, according to research firm BIA/Kelsey, 66% of small- to medium-size businesses websites in the U.S. don’t have a form available for potential customers to submit. Website forms are a great way to collect important lead-qualifying data. Plus, they also provide your prospects with a place to express detailed questions about the information they’re seeking about your business.
3. Live Chat
Live chat is another contact method that can help you convert a website visitor into a customer. With this lead-generation tool, prospects can ask questions and learn more about your business during their visit to your site. By interacting with visitors and answering their questions, live chats build rapport with prospects at this important touch point in the buying cycle. When your prospect has the information they need and a positive rapport has been established, you’re another step closer to converting a visitor into a customer.
4. Social Media Icons
Social media is crucial in today’s connected business environment. Consumers expect to be able to communicate with businesses through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (to name a few). However, according to BIA/Kelsey, less than 20% of SMB websites link to their Facebook page, with even fewer linking to Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media is an excellent way for customers to learn more about you, connect with other fans, and get the information they need in order to decide to do business with you. If you’re not on social media, it’s important to consider adding this as a regular business marketing process – and then add links to your accounts on your website!
5. Engaging Video
By including videos on your website, you can build credibility and attract visitors who might not want to read large amounts of detail about your products and/or services. Prospects will appreciate the convenience that videos provide during their visit to your site. Videos are also a great way to communicate the personality of both you and your business to your audience.
6. Balanced and Accurate Content
Avoid cramming too much information onto one page; rather than being helpful, information overload is just that – overload. Visitors will not spend precious time reading a webpage with too much information. If you’re unsure how to best arrange your website information, a professional Web designer can help you.
Also, make sure consumers don’t gather inaccurate information about your business. For example, remove information about products or services you no longer offer or profiles of employees who no longer work for you.
7. Modern, Simple Design
Leave the bad website design in the ’90s. Garish color combinations (think neon yellow against bright green, bright red against black, etc.), type in bolded all caps, multiple underlining of words, blinking or swirling of text, and other dated design elements all portray the image that your business is behind the times. And even if you aren’t an expert in design or website development, there are many services available to help you create an effective and pleasant-looking website.
8. Professional, Polished Logo
Your logo is an important part of your brand, so make sure it’s located prominently on your site. Use a high-resolution image on your webpage and consider featuring it in the upper left corner of each of your pages. Also, it’s a good rule-of-thumb to link your logo back to your home page so that visitors can easily navigate to it.
9. User-Friendly Functionality
It’s important to make sure the functionality of your website is a great experience. How long does it take for your page to load? Are all the links working and not broken? Is the formatting of your site up to date? For example, although it can create an interesting experience, using Flash may detract from your site’s effectiveness. Flash is not SEO-friendly because of how the format treats content. Also, using lots of Flash on your website can slow your website’s load time, which may cause visitors to abandon your site altogether. And, Flash does not display on some smartphones, so by using it, you may be alienating some of your mobile visitors.
10. Mobile-Friendly Experience
Consumers search and surf the Web using mobile technology (smartphones and tablets) now more than ever. In fact, at the end of 2012, nearly a quarter of Web traffic was from mobile devices. But the majority of small- and medium-size business websites still aren’t optimized for mobile devices. As mobile technology continues to rise in popularity among consumers, the need for mobile-compatible websites also rises. Have you ever checked out how your website looks on a tablet or smartphone? If so, what was your impression? Was it easy to call you, find your business location, or other information like your hours of operation? If your site isn’t mobile-compatible, consider creating a mobile site that contains 5-10 essential pages from your website to help visitors find information and more importantly, contact you. Mobile technology is only going to grow in use among consumers during the buying cycle, so make sure your website is ready and mobile-friendly.
How does your small business website stack up when it comes to these important features? If you’re not sure, take some time to audit your current site using this post as a checklist so you can see what areas you may need to improve. By equipping your website with the essential features that your prospects need to make an informed decision about you and your business, you can build a more effective website and ultimately increase your rate of consumer conversion.
Which features of your website have turned your website visitors into active customers? Let us know by leaving a comment below.