We live in a digital world and for small businesses, this means customers are looking for your business, information about your services and other resources that are related to your presence online. This holds true even if your business is primarily offline.
However, far too many entrepreneurs don’t have their website set up to make it a helpful resource to their current and potential customers. According to the Web.com* Small Business Digital Trends Report released earlier this month, 26 percent of small business owners admit to having only a single-page website and 42 percent admit they don’t use both a robust website and social media channels to market their business. That’s why I recommend working with an online marketing partner like Web.com (who I also work and partner with), who can give you a fresh set of eyes on your website and the expertise to make sure that it has all of the components you need to grow your business.
Here are some of the things that Web.com and I recommend you should have on your site to make it stand out.
New and existing customers coming to your website want to be able to find the information that they are seeking about your business quickly and easily on your home page and across platforms, including mobile. This includes, for businesses that have physical locations, your hours of operation and your location address (enabled with online mapping). If you have multiple locations, finding the location closest to the customer should also be an easy endeavor for them.
For all businesses, contact information, whether it’s a phone number or a button to push to be able to chat or contact the business via email, should also be easily accessible from the homepage. Consider having more touchpoints as a way to be more customer-friendly, but also make sure that you are responsive via that method if you list it on your site.
Your main products and services should also be findable without digging. If you run a restaurant, for example, your menu(s) should be able to be found easily and should be accessible with one click.
Other information on your key policies, such as shipping and returns for product businesses or cancellation policies for service businesses should be an easy find, as well.
If you aren’t sure what information to put on for your specific customer base, that’s where an online marketing partner like Web.com can be helpful. Their expertise across industries helps them know what your target customers are likely to be searching for on your website.
Also, make sure to update the items regularly online. Inaccurate information on your website can be a catalyst for losing a hard-earned customer. If you have special closures for a holiday or have changed a menu item, update that right away so that you don’t end up with unhappy customers.
It might sound obvious, but in fact, 43 percent of small business owners say they have no plans to change or improve their online presence in 2017, according to the Web.com Small Business Digital Trends Report. Respondents of this same report say they’re handling the building and maintenance of their online presence in house (68 percent), compared to only 22 percent who outsource to a firm, and 9 percent who rely on family and friends to build their websites. If you’re having trouble managing content updates, remember: finding the right partner can go a long way.
More customers are spending their time surfing the Internet via their mobile devices. While five years ago, we spent less than an hour a day on our smart phones, now we are averaging 3 hours a day, and that number is only increasing. This means that the key information you have on your website needs to be able to be found not just on a desktop or laptop computer, but on a smart phone.
With limited real estate from much smaller smart phone screens, this means that you need to conceptualize a mobile-friendly responsive design that allows customers to find the type of information listed above (hours, contact, menus, maps and more) in that very small space, so work with a company like Web.com who has a mobile website builder in order to keep you and your business at the forefront of mobile commerce and information gathering.
And, at the end of the day, remember that you have to be able to be found online via a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. According to Web.com’s Report, only 17 percent of small business owners say that adding SEO to their online marketing strategy is part of their plan for 2017. This low emphasis on SEO by respondents may mirror a trend of questioning or misunderstanding the role of SEO for today’s online business. You can have the most helpful website in the world, but if you aren’t ranking in search engines and haven’t claimed a space on social media, then your customers may not ever see it.
* Disclosure: this company has a client relationship with CarolRoth.com or its affiliated entities
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics.
Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth