The 5 easy steps to take to ensure success when creating a website for your business
In the 21st century there are very few businesses that don’t benefit from having an online presence. That means creating a website for your business that works as hard as you do. Whether you want to know how to start an online business, discover how to revamp a current website or work out how to use the internet to show off what you do, our easy-to-follow process will guarantee a great-performing website.
However, whether you sell products or services, whether you run a restaurant or fitness classes, you shouldn’t just have a website for the sake of it! Whatever sector you’re in, your website should focus on gaining customers by attracting visitors with compelling content, and generating and converting leads once they’re there.
So start building a brilliant business website now by finding out more about these 5 simple steps.
- Have a proper plan
- Get on with it
- Build a website that captures leads
- Get the right people to your website
- Automate your marketing to close sales
Step 1 – Have a proper plan
Hint: Think about how your business plan can shape your website launch plan
Research shows that half of SME owners failed to finish their website because they didn’t have a clear plan of what they needed to do. So the first thing to take care of is to use your business plan to create a plan for your website.
You already know what your business aims to do, you have an idea of who your target customers are, and we’ve already established that your website will be working hard to build that customer base. Now you need to think about what makes your business unique, what you have to offer that your competitors don’t and what makes you stand out. This will help influence how your website looks, how it’s laid out and how you manage your digital marketing.
Start by asking yourself these questions to get a general idea of the direction you want to take: –
“Are you going to run your business entirely online, i.e. without meeting customers face-to-face or having a physical store or office?”
“Do you want to sell products or services online?”
“Do you want to take bookings online?”
“How are you going to encourage customers to give you their details?”
“How are you going to use the information you gather?”
If you already have a website for your business ask yourself the same questions but also think about your existing site. What do you like about it? What’s good, what’s bad? What would you like to be different?
Then set down a clear plan for the development of your site. Insite Web has produced this business website project planner to help order your thoughts and give you some structure. There are also tools to look in more detail at areas such as brand awareness, marketing, moving an existing site, what platform/company to choose and who does what.
In this comprehensive business website guide we’ll explain EXACTLY how to set up your marketing processes correctly right from the start.
Step 2 – Get On With It
Hint: Don’t procrastinate – get on with building your website today
There’s no other way but to just ‘get on with it’. You might put launching or relaunching your website on a back-burner because you’ve got other parts of your business to work on. However your website is a vital part of making your business a success, both online and offline.
By this step you’ve planned a website that supports your business goals, but did you know that survey after survey shows that consumers trust companies that have websites more than those that don’t. So if you’re a new start-up, the longer you’re without a website the longer you risk losing customers to competitors who’ve got theirs sorted. In this case procrastination may not just be the thief of time, it’s likely to be the thief of profit.
If you’re a new local business it’s tempting to think that customers will just find you via word of mouth (or by passing your premises) but according to research by Google over 80% of consumers search online specifically for local information. And increased use of mobile devices means that many customers are searching for businesses while they’re out and about. So having a mobile enabled site might mean the difference between them visiting you rather than a competitor.
But don’t rest on your laurels if your current website is just OK. Remember you’ve decided to relaunch for a reason and in the world of online business standing still is really going backwards! Keep focussed on that and get on with the changes you need to make.
If lack of resource is a problem, go back to your plan. You should have identified areas that someone else can do better than you can, so start contacting the experts who can do what you can’t.
Expert advice can also help you choose the type of website for your business that suits your needs and your budget, as well as providing detailed information about legal and security requirements.
Keep reading to find out why the Insite Web team think there’s ONE platform that works effectively for almost EVERY business.
Step 3 – Build a website that converts leads
Hint: It must have a compelling offer
The number of ‘touch points’ a business needs to have before a lead converts into a sale is disputed, with research proposing anything between 3 and 12. What we do know is the more opportunities you have to place your product or service in front of the prospective customer, the more they are likely to become actual customers.
Your website presents the perfect opportunity to showcase what you have to offer to a range of potential customers. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that you build a site that attracts visitors, retains them and encourages them to come back. A key part of that is to create great landing pages.
A landing page is where visitors often end up after being tempted by a specific campaign – of which more shortly – so you need to make sure that your landing page supports that campaign.
Some common mistakes that people make with their landing pages are:-
- making them too complicated
- overloading them with information
- or simply making it difficult for visitors to see what they are supposed to do next
Keep your landing page clear. Make sure it has an obvious message and a very visible call to action. And don’t lose sight of who your potential customers are. You should have defined that in the initial business plan, so keep them in mind when producing content for your site. Use language they will understand. Think about how they will respond to the ‘look’ of your site.
Great copy and design alone aren’t enough though. To ensure your site converts you want to retain the ability to test landing pages. And where pages aren’t performing, you need the facility to change them.
Remember creating a website for your business only starts at the design stage, optimisation is key. So avoid using web designers who just hand over a pretty site without giving you the tools to monitor its performance and make changes easily.
Everything you do as part of the website design process should focus on the customer. If you haven’t got a clear idea of who your customer may be, consider working with someone who can combine marketing and commercial experience with web design expertise. It’ll save you time and money later.
Step 4 – Get relevant leads to your website
Hint: Targeting is the key whatever your budget
You’ll also find that the paid options below often produce a quicker result while the unpaid, or organic, methods take a little more work. It’s easy to get hooked on paid results as they are quick, but remember you’ll always be paying for them, money invested in organic SEO, if done well, results in free relevant traffic. Think of the time you spend on this as the equivalent of the work you do in ‘the real world’ to build your company’s reputation.
Anyway you’ve got some great-looking landing pages that tell visitors exactly what you do. The rest of your site is full of extra information that will help and retain visitors if they want to know more. Now you just need to get them there.
Being online gives you the opportunity to put yourself in front of millions of potential customers, however it also places you in competition with millions of other businesses.
So how will people see your site rather than your competitors’? This depends on a number of factors. Are you launching a new site or relaunching an existing site? Do you have email contacts for existing/prospective customers?
But there are some common strategies that you should be using: –
- Proper website Technical SEO and copy optimisation
- Paid traffic (if you have a budget & after you’ve identified your customers/keywords)
- Social Media
- Content creation and link building out reach
Technical SEO & Copy
Make sure your website copy and technical SEO set-up is optimised for search engines. This will help your website appear high up in online searches. Think about it, how often do you look beyond the first few search results when you’re looking for something online?
To do this successfully proper customer, demographic, market and competitor research needs to be undertaken. This analysis allows you to understand what customers really search for and ensures that your copy and content is relevant and produces meaningful results for those searches.
If all that seems a bit daunting take a look at the SEO services that Insite Web offer, including a free SEO audit.
If you’re using PPC advertising you’ll want to ensure that the landing pages we talked about previously are not only easy to understand but also reflect the content of your ads, this will reduce your costs and increase the chances of customers staying on the landing page.
You also want to make sure that you don’t just set up ads and then expect them to work for you without experimenting with and tracking copy changes. That’s why testing is so important. Think about working with an agency that can A/B test ads for you and make sure that you’re always using the most effective copy for advert clicks and conversions.
Consider how your social media profiles support your other web content and drive traffic to your site. After all what is your social media really for, it should be a way to engage with, sign up and track more customers.
If you’re going to use advertising on Facebook make sure you target your ads by creating custom audiences based on your target customer profiles, and again check that your landing pages are relevant to the adverts.
Content Creation and Outreach
A blog about an aspect of your business can be a great traffic driver, but it needs proper customer interest and keyword research. Remember that a key indicator to Google of a site’s relevance is new content that answers questions and provides information that people are searching for. It must also be well written and engaging. Ensure you’re writing something that people search for and will then read!
You then need to make sure that your blog posts are found by your target audience, despite what you may read elsewhere, a great post by itself is not likely to get much traffic without further work.
Social media is a good way to get attention for blogs and to entice people to your site. It’s also vitally important that other sites link to your content, as this increases the relevance and the authority of your pages and the website overall.
There are also a myriad of other sources that you should get links to your site from, such as local business forums, authoritative experts and leaders in your field, plus relevant business directories.
Whatever channels you use, think about the hooks that you can offer to get people to your website and to sign up once there. This can range from exclusive discounts for your Facebook followers to access to free guides or advice.
Make sure that you encourage past or current customers to give you feedback through online reviews. Good reviews will encourage others to want to find out more about you.
If all that seems either daunting or time consuming, then you need the support of an SEO expert in your online business plan.
Step 5 – Automate your marketing to close sales
Hint: You must start with an email marketing list
Automating your marketing consists of using software platforms to carry out some of the more repetitive marketing tasks that you used to have to carry out manually. These platforms not only save you time they also make your marketing more effective. They can do this by automating customer interactions with you and your website. By capturing, tracking and segmenting customers the software can then ensure that deals and offers are tailored to and targeted at the right customers. This increases the likelihood that your leads are converted into sales.
There are many ways to automate your marketing, here are the best options: –
- Automated Email Marketing (Build a proper email marketing list from day one)
- Online Booking (Don’t make your customers ring you – many won’t bother)
- Social Media Management (Why most businesses find it’s a chore, when it should be easy)
- VOIP Landline Phone Systems (How you can automate & look professional with no landline)
In terms of email marketing this starts with ensuring that you tailor your email forms to capture the details you need and feed them into a proper email CRM marketing list systems in order to segment and target any emails, rather than relying on standard ‘off the shelf’ forms that email your inbox.
Proper email systems let you set up autoresponders that help engage with and retain your new contacts by letting them know when you’ll be in touch, or by letting them know about offers that relate to their initial enquiries, this significantly increases the chance of them dealing with your business again.
For existing customers or for people who have contacted you in the past, automated timed emails can be used to showcase relevant new deals, or if they did not buy your goods or services freebies based on how they’ve interacted previously to encourage them back.
Finally for ecommerce sites secondary selling emails will let customers know about products that they need to make their purchase work, or offer them a great deal that means they purchase more from you this time.
If your business books appointments, adding automated online booking systems can also make life easier for you and your customers, by not forcing them to make a phone call but allowing them to choose what they want simply and quickly from their phone, tablet or computer.
Booking systems can give customers the opportunity to choose times and dates for call-backs or sales visits, or provide interfaces that allow people to book appointments for beauty treatments or reserve their table in a restaurant.
Social Media Management
In terms of your social media presence, using a media management platform like Hootsuite allows you to manage all your social activity from one dashboard across pretty much every social media site.
You can send the same post to all social sites in one click, tweak them so each is different, post pictures, responses and mange it all in one place for months in advance. Your marketing offers, social media, customer responses and communication can all be planned and scheduled in advance, freeing up time to work on the rest of your business.
VoIP Landline Phone Systems
You can also use VoIP – known as an internet phone system – to provide you with local or Freephone landline numbers that will allow you look totally professional and to run your business anywhere via a mobile phone. This means your business has a proper local phone presence and you, or your team, can be contacted on a landline number even if you’re out of the office.
The best VoIP phone systems have automated messages and answering services, call diverting, company departments and directories, plus allow you to fully track customers who have come from your website or paid search.
These automated services mean your marketing and customer communication can turn from being a chore, that you regularly have to find time for (or not as the case may be), to a planned process that can take as little as half a day a month.
Creating a successful business website is just the beginning. As we’ve indicated, to be truly competitive online you need to commit to some degree of ongoing monitoring of your website’s performance.
However the steps above are a tried and tested method of starting your online business journey in the right way. They work whether you’re launching an online business or business website, or whether you’re relaunching your existing site.
We know this as we’ve used this process with all our clients to ensure they stand out in their marketplace and always have an advantage over their competitors.
If you follow the steps on here and really work through the stages you will have a process that rewards you with more traffic and customers, builds a relationship with them and makes you money.
You won’t just be building a website for your business because you think you have to, or handing over money to a developer or web design company to find that your site doesn’t rank or get leads.
So, as we always say, get on with it and start taking your first steps to online business success.
If you need help with web design get in touch, if you have any comments then let us know. We hope you find the post really useful, if you have, please share.