A small business without a Web site is, well, like a teen who doesn’t text. You need a Web site. You’ve heard that a million times from people.
You know what? They are right. As a small business, you do need one, and, more importantly, it needs to be good.
Web sites are smart investments for small businesses, and here’s why:
■ Web sites can be your 24-hour salesperson, as well as a customer service representative: Potential customers search the Web for products, services and answers.
■ Web sites are cost-effective: Depending on the complexity of the site, it can cost a couple of hundred dollars for a do-it-yourself site or $500 to $2,500 for a professional Web designer. Domain name and hosting can cost about $15 a month.
■ Web sites are adaptable: As your business grows, your Web site can, too, and adapt to the changing needs of your business and customers.
■ Web sites are measurable: There are free statistics services such as Google Analytics
that can track how many people are visiting your site, where they came from, how long they are there and what pages they are visiting. It’s good information to know, especially to measure whether your paid advertising or social media efforts are paying off.
■ Web sites are great referral tools for satisfied customers to share with others: Word of mouth is the best kind of advertising.
Now that we’ve established why your small business needs a Web site, it needs to start with a well- devised plan based on current and future goals, and then be built to suit your business. It doesn’t have to be flashy, but it needs to:
■ Be identifiable: Your Web address should reflect what you do and who you are.
■ Have a simple and clean layout: White space is a good thing. Pictures or logos should have a purpose and not overwhelm. This will allow your site to load quickly. You have less than 30 seconds to make an impression before people move on.
■ Have meaningful content: Your Web site needs to provide useful and relevant information. Keep it updated and relevant. Offer RSS feeds or e-mail subscriptions.
■ Display your contact information prominently: There’s nothing more frustrating to a customer than when they can’t find a phone number or e-mail address so they can contact you.
■ Be easy to navigate: You need to tell visitors what’s on the site, help them get there and make it easy to get more information.
■ Include a privacy statement: In this era of privacy concerns, a privacy statement should be included to show your commitment to customers. You are building a relationship with the customer, and that’s built on trust and transparency. Your policy should say how you handle e-mail addresses and accept orders, identify who has access to this information and so on.
■ And you need to evaluate continually whether your Web site should be redesigned.
Central Kentucky Research Associates is a local small business that recently underwent a
An independent clinical drug research facility, CKRA has had a site since 2000, but it wasn’t engaging and didn’t reflect the dynamic nature of the business. The content was very clinical and not written to reach out to potential participants for clinical trials. The layout also had dated graphics.
But it was transformed into a user-friendly Web site where potential clients could get information quickly in lay terms. The business has seen an increase in traffic to the site, resulting in more interest in participating in clinical drug trials.
Check out the new site, which incorporates all of what good sites need, at www.ckraresearch.com.
It’s further proof that a good Web site will attract and retain customers and help you grow
August 30, 2010 – The copy of the column has been inserted fully for connivence of readers.