Get an online presence
First step for promoting your business is getting a website, no matter how basic. If the budget is low there are free solutions available that you can use to get started. You can always upgrade to a professional site later on.
Along with the website it is important to use a professional domain name that would probably be used for the entire lifespan of the business. The domain name shouldn’t be too long, it could contain keywords related to the business and it should have an original name so it can be easily recognized in search engines.
Some business owners have success just by starting with a Facebook Fan page, which later, should be linked to and from your website.
Plan the content really well
Next step would be to figure out what content you’ll need and how to organize it in pages, so the potential customers can easily find it.
Content strategy for brochure websites
For smaller business, with a basic brochure site, some typical pages could include: Home page, About Us, Services, Photo Gallery, Contact page and perhaps a Blog which we will discuss later on.
- The Home page should always act like a directory that points to the most important sections of the site such as services, blog and contact pages. Using a short intro text is a great way to describe your company and is important for SEO purposes. A photo slideshow on home page can better help visitors understand your business and create a WOW factor.
- About Us could contain company information, team bios and even a short customer testimonial if it makes sense in the context.
- Services page can be divided in subpages, especially if you offer more types of services. On this page you could load related content, which will increase your chances of being discovered in search engines!
- Photo Gallery works well for certain business. “A picture equals thousand words” stands true in this case.
- The Contact page normally includes contact information (name, address, email, phone etc.), a contact form and a map for directions. I recommend all of those when applicable.
What not to do
- Do not create long pages which are hard to read. Keep it Short and simple.
- Do not load unprofessional photos. The images should be high quality with an optimal resolution.
Content strategy for Ecommerce websites
An Ecommerce website is more complex and among the pages mentioned above, a shopping site needs extra pages such: Categories, Product Details, Cart, Checkout, Customer Profile etc.
- Categories page contains a list of products with each product linked to its details page.
- Product Details is the place where, most of times, the customer decides if he/she will buy the product. This page needs a great looking image with multiple views and zooming option, price, description, reviews capability, related products and an easy to spot Add to Cart button.
- Cart page could be an optional stop in checkout process, where customers can view a summary of the ordered products, estimate shipping costs, apply discounts etc.
- Checkout process is built using more steps such as sign-in / creating user account, billing information, shipping information, payment and order confirmation. In some cases most of these steps can be combined in one page using a method called one step checkout. One step checkout can increase sales by minimizing customer clicks but it’s not ideal if the information required is really long. Breaking it into smaller steps makes more sense.
- Customer profile is for when a user created an account and they can later access their order history, wish-list, contact information etc. This is a must have feature for making the shopping experience easier for returning vistors.
- For Ecommerce sites, where users need to insert sensitive billing information, lacking SSL certificate can make many customers shy away. While I don’t heart GoDaddy hosting provider, it offers one of the best price for an SSL. It’s really not that expensive.
- Lacking good product photos or meaningful description, can turn off customers.
- Price it’s one of the main factors in purchasing decision. Charging too much might not sell and going too low can hurt your business or customers will think the product is cheap. Finding a balance is the way to go.
Web Design quality
While the products and services are important, the package sells them, which in our case is the design part. A great looking modern web design will represent you in a professional light and could land you more customers, while a bad design can hurt your business.
While you can start with a cheap website as I explain in the beginning of the article, in long run it is more profitable to invest in a good looking website.
Branding is equally important, and while a logo designed by your nephew may be good enough for your personal website, it just won’t do it for a professional business website.
Marketing your website
Word of mouth
Your friends and family can always be a great resource for promoting your business. That’s a reason why you should always carry professional business cards, which will also contain a link to your website where your new connections can go and learn more.
Blogging for marketing
A blog is a great and relatively inexpensive way to promote yourself. Using a blog, you can keep your customers updated with latest information and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Search engines also love freshly posted content that’s why you’re more likely to land on the first page in Google.
Social media may be a very effective way for connecting with potential customers or leads.
Popular social networks currently are: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin, Pinterest and Google+ which are a great way to build a fan base.
Since you know your business and customers the best, this is something that you can do all by yourself. If you don’t have time, energy or knowledge, seeking for professional advice is the right decision because you need to be there!
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization or simply called SEO it’s what helps you get more traffic on the website. While professional advice and SEO service is costly, first you should make sure the website has a nice design and everything else mentioned above is checked. There is no reason to have many visitors, if your site is not able to convert them to customers.
There is more information on this subject than I could ever hope to fit in one article, but some tips to consider are:
- Researched keywords implemented in title tags
- Link Building: as more quality websites link back to your website, as better your site ranks
- Analyzing and optimizing traffic data. Installing Google Analytics for tracking your visitors, can help you refine your keywords and content.
Having many visitors and no sales means that you probably need a redesign.
- If you have the cash for paid search, taking advantage of Google Adwords can quickly boost your website on the first page.
Investing in a great looking professional site and branding, marketing it efficiently using word of mouth, blogging, social media and SEO, can grow your business and lead you to profits.