Every business needs a website today because that is what people expect a business to have if they care about customer service and growth. It used to be an expensive proposition so small businesses initially tended to think they could leave website building to the larger companies.
Of course, that has changed as website development became easier and less expensive, and the internet became integral in all business functions – selling to customers, buying from vendors, and marketing. In addition, investors reading business plans expect to see a website also because an online presence is so critical to reaching target markets.
Deal Making Websites
It is easy to build a website that doesn’t work. The translation for “doesn’t work” is “not enough traffic and not enough revenue production” That is an indication the website is likely missing one or more must-have feature that are proven to drive visitors to websites and help close the deal. Every website needs certain features, including small businesses. A good website is a deal maker, attracting the right people at the right time and convincing them to buy.
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The website should be:
• Intuitive – An intuitive website is one that pleases the visitor by making it easy to navigate and understand. People get frustrated easily, and it is so easy to click away to the competitor’s site. Don’t frustrate visitors. Make them happy by using easily recognizable terms, obvious clickable links, and an easy-to-use navigation menu along the top or left side of the screen.
• Friendly – A website needs to be search engine friendly. Search Engine Optimization or SEO means using keywords in quality content so that search engines responsible for crawling and indexing websites will find your website when people do a search for particular products or services. When SEO is successfully mastered, the website is properly ranked as to its relevance to the search term.
• Confidence Building – Website visitors need to gain confidence that the business is trustworthy, reliable and honest. There are numerous ways to build customer confidence, through testimonials, customer reviews, “like” and “followers”, press mentions, awards and honors earned, association and business memberships in organizations assessing business quality (i.e. BBB), and seals like compliance seals and privacy seals.
• Captive – A website that does not capture leads is not working hard enough. There should be elements included that are designed to capture site visitor contact information, like name and email address or phone number. There are various ways to capture this information, such as through a contact form, entry form, registration form, free download gift, and so on.
• Generous – Start a newsletter that is filled with information about the company as well as interesting and useful information, and offer it to people as a free download. The newsletter can include articles, news updates, special offers, new product information, or whatever information seems appropriate for the business. Be generous with free information like newsletters and ebooks because it creates goodwill while keeping people coming back repeatedly.
• Connect – Social media should be integrated into the website through buttons added to every webpage. Make it easy for people to follow the social media sites with a simple click. Many companies now have multiple social media sites. Small businesses can connect through blogs too. Social media in general is a communication tool between the business and the marketplace. Market the social media sites, capture the leads, respond to visitor comments, prove industry expertise, and enjoy the interaction.
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Notice that all the website must-have features are designed to attract potential customers and then close the deal. People need to visit the website and then stay, return, buy, and review. It is all about action, which is why there should be calls to action like “complete the contact form” or “download the newsletter” or “leave a comment.” A properly designed website is a strategic marketing tool bringing the to life.
Illustrative business plan samples
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