The top 6 things every business needs online

These days most businesses realise they really need to have a website in order to be competitve, including bricks and mortar businesses.  Sadly, many of them have no idea what they need to have on their website in order to improve their business and increase their sales.  So to help these businesses out, we've created this simple guide to the top things that have been winners for our clients online.  When you're reading through this list, have a think about your own website and how it could be improved by making some small improvements like those below.

In today's competitive internet environment, every business should consider the following things online:

1. An easy-to-find site

There's no point in having a website if no one can find it.  You can spend all your time and money creating a professional site, but if you aren't doing anything to promote it then it's just a waste.  The first step in creating an easy-to-find website is to choose a domain name that makes sense.  Don't try to be too clever - just use your business name because that's what people will look for.  You also need to put your website address on everything (business cards, signs, ads, uniforms, email signatures etc.) so people know about it.

The next thing is to get your site optimised for search engines so it displays high when people search using keywords related to your business.  You'll need to put these keywords throughout the content of your site and work on building backlinks (i.e. links on other sites back to yours) to move your site up the listings.  Another way to make your site visible is to advertise on search engines like Google with Pay-Per-Click advertising (Google's system is called Adwords).  This cost-effective system displays your ad when someone searches for a related keyword, and you only pay for the space if they actually click on your link and visit your website.

Draw people from your advertising and promotions directly to your site, and draw further attention to your offers to increase their effectiveness.

How we can help you: 3G Website (built in SEO functions), SEO programs, Google Adwords Management, Landing Page Manager, HTML Manager

2. More than one way to capture details of leads:

Someone that browses your site is just a visitor, but if you can capture their contact details and add them to your database, they become a lead that you can hopefully convert into a customer.  So what are you doing to catch the details of these visitors?  You need to be doing a few different things to get them interested enough to give you their details.  The key to this is that you will have to offer them something in return for their name and email address, because no one gives out their information over the internet for free anymore.  It has to be something that is relevant and valuable to them and it needs to be prominent on your website so they can actually find it.  Here are some ideas:

  • Competition: everyone loves a chance to win something for free, so organise a competition on your site with a prize that will attract visitors and get them to submit their name and email address to enter
  • Free ebook or white paper: write an ebook (electronic book in the form of a PDF) on a topic you know lots about, then make it available for download on your website - in exchange for name and email address of course!
  • Newsletter sign-up: newsletters are an effective way to build your database, so put an eye-catching  newsletter sign-up box on every page of your website for visitors to enter their details and join your mailing list
  • Free demo/trial: offering a product tour or a trial has two benefits - showcasing what your products can do and capturing details for your database so you can encourage them to buy later

How we can help you: Competitions Manager, Ezy Communicator (for newsletters and database management), Custom Form Creator

3.  Opportunities to demonstrate your expertise:

People are more likely to become customers of your company if they think you are an expert in your industry.  You need to show your knowledge and expertise on your websites so you can attract leads and convert them to paying customers with your knowledge and reputation.  Well-written content is a great start, but it's not enough on its own - you need something that will make you stand out from the crowd.  Here are some strategies:

  • Tips and 'did you knows': displaying interesting facts and helpful tips around your website can be a great way to engage your site visitors and keep them interested in your site.  This is also a very effective strategy for positioning yourself as an expert and educating  prospects on what you can offer them.
  • Articles: you've probably got lots of industry knowledge and great ideas floating around in your head, so why not put some of it down into an article to educate your customers?  Writing regular articles and displaying them on your site or in your newsletters will show that you know your stuff and help people at the same time.
  • Testimonials: people love buying from people, so putting stories from real customers on your site is great way to show how good your business is and that you are the expert.  Testimonials are particularly effective in your shopping cart area where prospects are actually making a purchase decision, and also if they are specific about how your business helped the customer.
  • Run free workshops: educating your potential customers on your area of expertise through informative workshops/seminars is a very powerful strategy.  Send out email that make it easy for your clients to book online.
  • Podcasts: produce MP3 or podcasts of topical information to further demonstrate your expertise.  This is a great strategy if your target market is very technologically savvy.
  • Blogs: run your own diary, with regular updates of information and news - these are also effective to bring people back to your site, as well as increasing your traffic.

How we can help you: Tips and Quotes Manager, Articles Manager, Testimonials Manager, Event Manager (free within Ezy Communicator), Podcasting, Blogs

4. A new way to share your success stories:

As mentioned, testimonials are a great tool for showing how great your business is.  However, it can sometimes be difficult to get good testimonials from your customers so you might end up with lots of general "I'm so happy with your products" testimonials which aren't really that useful.  A great way around this is to write success stories about your customers yourself and then get them to approve them.  By writing a story, you can really focus on what the client's problem was and explain in-depth how you provided a solution for them.  You can make it more interesting with pictures and quotes and even link the page directly to the products that were used by the client, making it a great sales tool.  People love to read about people or businesses similar to themselves and can more easily relate it to your services in the form of a story.

To see some examples, click here for our Bloomtools success stories.

How we can help you: Case Studies Manager

5.  Something to draw people back to your site regularly:

Most people that visit your site won't buy something straight away - it generally takes 3 or 4 exposures to a business before a person buys from them.  Therefore you need to be implementing strategies that will draw people back to your site reguarly so you can work on converting them into customers.  If you want people to come back to your site, it needs to be interesting and engaging and offer something more than just information on your products.  You also need to keep yourself at the top of their mind with regular promotion.  Here are some ideas to get prospects coming back:

  • Blog: these days, everyone from celebrities to kids has a blog.  A blog is just an online diary where the owner can write anything they choose and readers can leave comments.  The key to a successful business blog is including information that will help the readers - news about your business is good, but people won't come back to read it unless there's something in it for them.  Try writing articles, advice, how-to guides and business tips about your area of expertise.
  • Forum: a forum is a great way for you to interact with you customers and also for them to interact with each other.  Why not post a story, idea or some advice once a week and encourage your members to discuss it?  If the content is interesting enough, people will keep coming back.
  • Newsletters: newsletters are an example of regularly putting your business in front of your prospects, rather than relying on them to come back to your website themselves.  Just the newsletter itself will put your business at the top of their mind, but if you place lots of links to your website throughout the newsletter, you can actually push traffic there.  A good tactic is to have a short snippet of articles in the actual email, then a link to your website to 'read more'.
  • RSS Feeds: an RSS feed is a way for your customers and prospects to keep up-to-date with your business.  They can subscribe to the feed of your blog or articles so they can be notified every time you add something new and can come to your site to read it.

How we can help you: Blog Manager, Internet Forum, Ezy Communicator, RSS Feeds

6. Add value for your clients

The reason why 7 out of the 10 clients left your business was because they believed you didnt care - it costs 6-8 times more to attract new clients than it does to keep your existing clients, so it is really important to look at how you can retain your clients and keep them happy.

Regularly communicate with them - news, industry updates and tips that would be of interest to them; special messages on their birthdays or special anniversaries; find out what they really think of your services/products with client feedback surveys; invite them to special events.  These strategies will keep your business at the top of their mind and strengthen your relationship with them.

Make it easy to do business with you - set up a secure client backend area to your site that they access via a client login, with common forms, tips and forums that make it easy for them to login to obtain information of value to them and you; create a client-only ordering systems that showcases your products and special client prices, set up a ticketing system to manage your client queries (so they can track their queries and you can manage everything effectively).

How we can help you: Ezy Communicator, Client Repository Manager, Ticketing System, Knowledge Base Manager

7. A way to facilitate sales:

The overall aim of any business is to get sales.  Your website can be a very effective tool for this, even if your product can't be sold online.  If it is possible for people to buy your product over the internet, you need to get a shopping cart on your site that displays all your wares professionally and makes it easy for people to buy.  The best shopping cart software these days even comes with inventory control systems to make it hassle-free for you to sell online. 

Even if you are a bricks and mortar business, you can facilitate sales using your website.  You need people to call you or come into your shop, so make it easy for them to contact and find you!  Put your address, a map, phone numbers and an email form so they can contact you, have an online order form if that is possible in your business, and have lots of calls-to-action to encourage people to make the step from 'browser' to 'buyer'.  Showcase some of your popular products to entice people to come in. You could even have special 'web only' deals, so prospects can print a voucher off your website and get a discount when they come into your store.

How we can help you: Shopping Cart, HTML Manager, Product Catalogue

The best thing about having a website with a Content Management System behind it and the ability to add on tools (like all Bloomtools websites) is that you have the freedom to try lots of these strategies to see what works for your business.  Remember, today's consumers expect a pretty high standard from the internet, so make sure you have a lot to offer them on your site to keep them interested. 

Please don't hesitate to give us a call if you would like to discuss implementing the above strategies in your business.


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