These days, regardless of what business you are starting up, it’s safe to say you will need a website to showcase your products and/or services. But before you start designing your site and chucking it up online and praying that you get business from it there are so simple steps you need to follow in order to ensure success.
1. Decide who your Ideal Customer Is.
The very first thing you need to do before starting any business is to decide who are you actually trying to ATTRACT to your website…Building a website is easy. All it takes is a little time, creativity and sometimes if you’re paying someone else to do it, money.
But what’s the point of having a website that never gets found or attracts a flood of visitor’s but none of them turn into paying customers? For that reason you have to decide right up front, before you even start to look website design or driving traffic to it, who it is you ideally want to do business with.
If you don’t do this then the visitors that do find your website won’t stay long or do business with you. What we’re talking about here is targeting quality leads that come back and do business with you over and over again.
Imagine having 100 visitors to your website a day and no-one makes an enquiry or gives you a call. How frustrating would that be? Let’s face it, getting your website found online isn’t a popularity contest, it’s a marketing tool. The way around that is to decide on the type of visitors you want to attract to your website.
For example, what age and sex are they, how much money do they earn, what do they do for a living, where do they live? These demographics are critical in deciding WHO your customers are. This may seem like common sense to you but the fact is that all too often websites are not designed properly and end up being nothing more than a poorly constructed brochure.
By having a clear picture in mind about who your ideal customer is then you can design your website copy and graphics to suit your ideal customer & your target market. This will help you to start making profits or turning clicks into customers from your very first lead.
2. Build your Website With The End in Mind
Now that you’ve decided who it is you want to attract to your website, you can work out what it is you want them to do once they arrive there. There’s a massive difference in the type of website you build dependent on what result you are looking to achieve.
Do you want your visitors to:
- Phone you
- Send an email enquiry
- Complete an online quote form
- Opt-in to a regular newsletter
- Download a giveaway (i.e. free intro DVD)
- Make a purchase online
- Any combination of above
You see, some people will just want visitors to give them their name and email address so they can add them to their data-base for future marketing campaigns, whereas others will want to have the chance to convert the lead to a sale.
No matter what your goal is with your website you need to think carefully about what it is you want your visitors to do before you start developing it. In some cases a 1 page ‘sales letter’ website will be all that you need, whereas if you are building an eCommerce website you will need to have multiple pages and a large amount of good quality images to do the job properly.
The 5 different types of websites that I have come across are:
1. One page sales letter website
2. Standard website with basic content /graphics
3. Professional website with animated flash /graphics
4. Custom built website with online databases
5. E-Commerce website with shopping cart attached
3. D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) or D. F.Y (Done For You)
Once you’ve decided what type of website you need then your next step is to decide whether you do it yourself or engage the services of a web developer.
The main thing to keep in mind here is that if you really don’t know much about the web environment then I’d suggest finding someone to build you site for you as it will be far less time time-consuming and you’ll end up with a better website in the end.
I know this for a fact as I used to build all my own websites, now because I run several different online businesses it’s a much better use of my time to get a web developer to do it for me and all I do is provide them with what I want it to look like and the content that goes in it. What used to take me days or weeks now gets done in hours by qualified professionals.
Make sure you have a good looking website. The fact is that you have just a few seconds to attract a potential customer and keep them interested enough to stay. Good looking is more about keeping your layout simple, yet easily searchable. Try not to clutter it too much with text, pictures and flash objects.
It’s not how much you fit on the page it’s what you fit and the page and how it’s positioned.
4. Will Your Website Be Easy To Find On The Search Engines?
Let me introduce you to a new way of thinking about your customers and your marketing. What if you targeted your customers using keywords that you already knew people were using to find products or services like yours? I call this doing a keyword and competitor analysis.
This involves using some pretty sophisticated software to analyze the main keywords that people use when trying to find products or services like yours. Then discovering how much competition there is in your industry and what’s required to get a top 10 ranking on Google, Yahoo & other search engines.
Sometimes it may be that there is too much competition for your main keywords and you will need to come up with relevant alternatives to make sure your website is easy to find. This is where a search engine optimization (SEO) expert becomes invaluable.
They do all the hard work for you and then simply tell you what you need to use to get good rankings. The second part to this is that once your website is being highly ranked on the search engines, you need to make sure that it stays there.
This is important as the search engines will change the way they rank websites and your competition will also change what they do online. Once again, your SEO specialist can do this for you as they understand what it takes to keep your website at the top of the search results.
Make no mistake if you don’t know what you’re doing with SEO then don’t expect to get results. With Google alone there are more than 150 different factors to consider when optimizing your website to get a high ranking.
While SEO experts will range in cost and ability, if you are serious about generating business online or increasing qualified traffic to your website then this is one investment where you will see a measurable return in a short time. Turn your website into a high CONVERSION, lead generation machine.
5. How Well Does Your Website Convert?
Now that you’ve created a website that is easy to find whenever someone does a search for your product or service online, the next step is to make sure you keep them there long enough to take whatever action you want them to take.
If you’ve already spent time & money building your website you also need to work out how much you can afford to spend on conversion strategies. The moment a visitor arrives at your website you have just seconds to give them a reason to stay.
This might come from a compelling headline, or catchy sub-headline or simply just having easy to navigate pages that are laid out in a ‘user friendly’ format. An example of a strategy that can increase your conversion rates by up to 50% is having your phone number in large easy-to-read font put on the top of each page (preferably in the banner area).
The harder it is for your visitors to make contact with you the less likely it is you will ever hear from them.
Some of the other ways to help convert more clicks to customers are:
- Use a value based Headline to gain interest
- Offer giveaways such as free reports, ebooks, newsletter, free quotes, etc
- Let your visitors know what is unique about the way you do business
- Offer money back guarantees
- Have compelling copy that keeps your readers interested and wanting more
- Have a powerful call to action
- Set-up a shopping cart to sell products while you are sleeping
By the way, the smart way to make sure your website is maximizing it’s conversion potential is to do one thing that many business owners neglect to do and that is test and measure the results of each part of your website.
The great news about the Internet is that you can test and measure your conversion strategies in just hours or days. This is the only way to make sure your website is going to bring you the best return for the money you have invested in it.
6. Keep In Touch With Your Customers on a Regular Basis.
It’s one thing to go to all the trouble of getting leads to your website, it’s another to keep them coming back. Real marketing whether online or offline is more than just acquiring new leads to your business. It’s also about using marketing skills to increase the average life-time value of your past customers and, the best way to do this is to keep in touch with them all.
Fortunately, this is one of the easiest things to do now with auto-responders that can be set-up to automatically send out regular newsletters, special offers, new product updates, value added opportunities, webinars, podcasts, ‘how-to’ video’s’ or just about anything you like.
When you think about the lifetime value of 1 customer in comparison to how much it cost you to acquire each new customer it makes good business sense to keep the old ones coming back. It’s the good old 80/20 rule, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers, so focus on looking after them!
In fact, for every happy customer that does repeat business with you there’s every opportunity that they’ll refer others to your website. And, what’s more every study I’ve ever read shows that when a person has purchased from you 3 times or more, they’re at least 10 times more likely to refer you to their friends.
If you don’t bother to build the relationship you’re throwing away ‘real’ profits. Take the time to build a database of your online customers and then take the time to communicate with them often.
Online businesses that stand out from the crowd invest time and effort in offering consistent value added products or services that have a low cost to them but a high perceived value to the customer. From free E-books to membership programs, special reports to teleseminars, with experts in your field there’s endless potential to turn your customers into raving fans on the Internet.
6. Publish Online Articles
Let people know why they will benefit from your product or service. Imagine how many people in your target market there are surfing the net right now reading articles about products or services exactly like yours.
If just one of your articles gets picked up by an online publisher who broadcasts it to their database of say 10,000 customers you could get an instant flood of new leads to your website. Typically, articles that you post online have a dual benefit.
The first is that if you post them in the right places your message will reach the right people at the right time. As more people read your articles and follow the links back to your website the number of quality leads will increase. Over time, as you consistently write and publish articles the amount of traffic you can generate is literally unlimited.
The second benefit is that by placing linked text in your articles this will also over time create ‘backlinks’ to your website which is one of the best ways to improve your rankings in the search engines.
Now, you don’t have to write these articles yourself. Especially if it’s something that you find frustrating or you just don’t have time to sit down and do on a regular basis. Some of the businesses we work with use people like our article writers who can put together an article a day if need be to really boost the awareness of your products or services to the online community.
As you develop a strong group of readers online you can set-up and store them on your host server and use them as a way to build credibility and keep people coming back to find out more interesting information.
7. Know Your Websites Statistics
Get familiar with how to interpret your websites performance results and determine what changes need to be made to improve your bottom line. Rather than just loading your website onto a server, writing some copy and hoping that everything you’ve done so far works, make sure you know what your websites stats are telling you.
There is an abundance of useful information available at your fingertips to help you make minor or major improvements to your websites results.
Website statistics and analytics can tell you what search engines a visitor used to find your website, what keywords they used, how long they stayed at your site, which pages they clicked on, what cities and countries they come from, what time of day they found you, and so the list goes on.
Writing better ads, strengthening your marketing strategies, creating higher-converting websites, using website analysis tools that your website host provides,(or you can use a free web-based tool like Google Analytics, will rapidly help you increase your website effectiveness and return on investment (ROI).
One the most exciting parts of using statistical information on a regular basis is you get watch as your marketing strategies start to generate more leads to your website.
As the number of visitors increase you can then refine your conversion strategies including your advertising, headlines, copy, and calls to action, by monitoring each part independently until you have it working just the way you want it to.
Don’t be too daunted by the amount of information that is available to look at. Once you get familiar with it, it’ll all start to make sense to you.
By following these 7 steps you will give yourself and your business the best chance of online success. These strategies are proven to work and will help you navigate through the increasingly competitive environment of online marketing and sales.