If you attended my SEO Class for Small Business at RCC here are the links I promised to provide to you.
Chronicling my adventures in DIY, Home Improvement, Barbeque and Fatherhood
What I really like about the Web is the unlimited variation and innovation. This list of six Web site ideas is merely a starting point.
- Make your Web site the center of your online marketing universe – What do I mean by this? Take steps to make it extremely easy for a prospect (or customer) to find you online. How do you do this? Simply link to your Web site from: your email signature, Google places page, Facebook page, LinkedIn page, etc. Then, link out from your Web site to all those pages/places online.
- Offer a way for Web site visitors to stay up to date/receive special offers. This might mean producing an occasional email newsletter (using a service like MailChimp free for small lists) or, offering readers of your blog to subscribe to your RSS feed.
- Test different offers on your Web site. Depending on your business this could be a free initial visit with a percent off. Or, a free accessory with a minimum purchase.
- Test different calls to action: Do you have a contact us form or Appointment Request form on your Web site? If you do, consider using a free tool like Google Web site Optimizer to test how well a small change to your form might work.
- Offer tools for clients to configure their dreams. This could be something from a PDF worksheet download to a web form or more complex online configurator.
- Collect and display testimonials from past customers on your Web pages. They add credibility to the hard work you’ve already done and will instill confidence in prospective customers.
What are some of your ideas of things to do with a small business web site?
Are you using email marketing for your small business?
If you aren’t, go sign up for MailChimp, Constant Contact, iContact or any of the others listed here now. Unlike some other media, e-mail can offer your small business nearly instant feedback and results.
If you are emailing your customers and prospects you are well on your way to increasing your profits.
But, are you taking advantage of every opportunity to reach out to both categories of email subscribers? In the case of customers: are you offering them new information to enhance their business, life or other concern? If your emails are always promotional offers should a customer continue to subscribe?
In the case of prospects (non-buying subscribers): When was the last time you emailed them? Have you sent them a “Last Chance/Good bye” email? In this email offer them a one time discount or special opportunity
For example: % off coupon valid only for the next 30 days. These emails have a good chance of capturing additional sales revenue for very little effort.
Many local small businesses struggle with the question of whether to have a Web site or not. You see the advertisements for easy “DIY” Web sites and/or late night ads which promise an easy path to Internet riches. But, the fundamental question remains:
Do you need a Web site?
To answer this question lets refer to a bit of research:
• According to a recent survey by PEW Internet, the percentage of adult Americans who access the Internet using broadband (high speed internet service like cable or DSL) grew from 63% in April 2009, to 66% in May 2010. In increasing numbers your potential customers are accessing the internet at high speed.
• When it comes to buying local, consumers often “ROBO” (Research Online, Buy Offline). Research company Forrester states that online research will influence US$1 trillion in offline sales by 2012.
If after reviewing the above research you think you would like to have someone create a Web site here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Do you have before and after project photos, company logo, a picture of you/your team and a biography about you/your company already written and available in electronic format? If you do not, you should consider gathering as much of this together before engaging a web development firm. It will speed up the development of your site and lower your overall cost.
• Is your company name available as a domain name? One place to check is Whois.net www.whois.net
• Are you able/willing to update the written & graphical content of your new Web site? Most modern Web sites have the capability built-in to enable you to add/edit content. Your prospective and returning customers don’t want to return to the same Web site months or years later.
A Web site that hasn’t been maintained is a sure sign “no one is home” and is a turn off to your prospects and customers. If you aren’t up to the maintenance task ensure that your Web site agreement spells out the number and frequency of updates. In addition, you should know exactly what is/is not included in an update by your Web site vendor.
• Do you have a budget for this project? Professionally done web sites can cost up to several thousand dollars depending on complexity. There are also annual and monthly costs for web site hosting and domain name registration to consider. Be ready for the incremental expense but, also the benefit of a new source of business leads.
One of the sessions at Internet Summit focused on Search Marketing. Within this session there was one presentation that mentioned value as part of the equation in obtaining in-bound links to your Web site. It’s something that is typically glossed over and the mention of it in this session gave me some hope. But, I thought I’d give the topic a little more explanation after some post session discussion and some thinking.
In the race for keyword domination there seems to be a void. The void, is one filled by the user/visitor and not the search engine. It’s fine to compete on keyword(s) but, that alone will not yield high quality links. It’s the content or, value that you provide to users that will net links. What are your target customers/users needs, most asked questions, or problems? Answer these questions and craft solutions in copy and downloadable or widget forms. These strategies will, over time, net links that can’t be bought or traded. To paraphrase: “Build value for your users and the links will come.”