Whether or not to maintain an online presense is no longer an option for most businesses. Businesses and consumers both are turning to online research when they want to find a vendor or product to fill a need. Ensuring that your business has a solid presence online can help keep your brand and services in the running when someone goes looking for the answers and solutions you can provide.
Many small and medium sized businesses do not have the internal resources to create an online presence that goes beyond the digital equivalent of an introductory brochure.
Forming a marketing consulting partnership with a team of experts like those here at Unlimited Prioritiess, is often the best way for these organizations make the jump to a twenty-first century online presence smoothly and effectively — and without breaking the bank.
Here are eleven things every business services company needs to have as part of their online presence:
1. An Understandable Address
When people are talking about your business and sharing information about your products or services they will need to tell others how to find your website or contact you by email. This means your domain name needs to be clear and easy to communicate in writing and verbally. If you cannot pronounce your website’s address you may need to think about a change or at least a name that can redirect to your site.
2. A Clean Homepage
You must have specific goals in mind when planning your homepage. This may be the first impression you ever make on a potential customer so make sure it is the right impression. When people are researching businesses online they can make a snap judgement about you based on very little information. Your company’s mission should be clear immediately. Web pages are relatively cheap; there is no reason to cram everything onto your homepage.
Your homepage should be welcoming and provide an easy to grasp introduction to your products and services. Keep page elements separated and use short lists so new prospective customer can see and understand your core business at a glance.
3. Findable Pages
Your existing customers know who you are and where to find you. New business can come from a variety of sources, but one major way to ensure that your website can be found by prospective customers is to ensure that your website is built with solid white-hat search engine optimization techniques in mind from the beginning. Search engines read your web pages with programs called crawlers.
Web crawlers have come a long ways in the last few years, but they still need your help to properly index your website and return links to your pages based on search terms entered by their users. By using well crafted pages, complete with quality metadata and good document structure can help your site be found by the right people.
4. Scannable High-Level Pages
Prospective customers will land on your website with a single question in mind. “Does this company provide the products or services I need?” This means that your pages should be crafted to answer this question quickly for a visitor who is just scanning the page quickly. It is hard to resist dumping a lot of information about your company and its great products and services right up front but this should be avoided.
After providing a clear answer to that initial question, you can provide links deeper into your site to pages with plenty of details about your business and services.
5. A Unified Look
Branding goes way past the logo on your letterhead and your business cards. Do not skimp on the services of a skillful designer to create a branding scheme that includes logos suitable for a variety of sizes and uses, fonts, and color palettes. A prospective customer who stops by your booth at a trade show or receives a marketing email from you should recognize you immediately when they land on your website — or vice-versa.
6. Clear Contact Information
Your online presence does not operate in a vacuum. Your site should be designed in a way that ensures visitors are never more than one click away from your contact information. Your contact information should include online and offline methods to reach you.
No matter how complete you feel your website is, there may be prospective customers who want to pick up the phone and verify something they read about you online.
7. Some Customer History
Web giants like eBay and Amazon learned early on that customers like to hear from other customers — even when they know nothing about the person providing feedback. If at all possible your website should contain some testimonials from your existing customers.
Past customers who are willing to give a good reference can go a long ways towards building trust and comfort on the part of new business relationships.
8. A Long Reach
Your website should be a central hub of information about your business and your products and services. Keeping that information limited to just that site is a waste of your online efforts. Look at sites like LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter as other avenues where you can keep in touch with prospective customers. If you take the plunge into the world of social media for businesses, make a real effort and stay on top of it.
A Facebook page or Twitter account with a few lonely updates from months or years ago is worse than no presence at all. Share news and information about your business, but also share wider industry news that would be useful to your prospective customers.
Don’t be one of those businesses that fail at the social part of social media.
9. A Visible Human Side
Online communication is easy and is becoming expected by consumers. If you have a presence on social media do not try to hide the fact that human beings are behind the tweets and updates. This is not a suggestion to go wildly off-message, but your social media followers will appreciate the presence of a genuine personality behind the presence.
10. Depth of Expertise
Earlier we talked about making pages scannable with clear information that can be quickly absorbed in a few glances. That is the way to draw in customers by explaining what you can offer. Create additional pages on your site where you explain the how and why of your business offerings.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Keep that in mind while writing your deeper explanatory pages. You are writing for a prospective customer with the goal of inspiring confidence in your ability to provide the services they need. Many companies create pages that read like a technical training manual instead of an explanation of their services.
Get a non-expert in your circle to sign off on every page of your site to ensure you are not writing copy that is only meaningful to people who know as much as you do about your business.
11. Fresh and Relevant Website Content
Do not treat your webpage as if it is chiseled in granite. Search engines reward fresh and current content that is relevant and well presented. In your professional life you are always learning as new information becomes available and technologies evolve. Your website should reflect any changes and new information as quickly as possible.
Revisit your entire site at least three times a year and make sure every page is fulfilling its mission in the best way possible based on today’s understanding of your business and your customers needs.
If your business presence online is missing some or all of these critical business building tools, contact us to learn how Unlimited Priorities can help take your business to the next level.