Want your business to reach new customers? Push print and commercial advertising to the backburner, and get online. Pew Research Center reports 73 percent of Americans go online daily, while 21 percent say they go online constantly. If your small business website doesn’t represent your enterprise positively and give visitors the opportunity to become customers, you could be losing significant revenue, especially from younger consumers who surf the Web the most.
Fostering sales conversions demands more than just using a basic website template to get your business on the Internet. Here are five important factors to include in your small business website to make it more appealing to visitors and more beneficial for your company.
1. E-Commerce Integration
About 10 percent of all American sales are currently happening online, and Forrester Research predicts the e-commerce sector will experience a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent over the next five years — leading to nearly $500 billion in e-commerce sales by 2019. Whether your product is physical or digital, giving visitors to your website an avenue to purchase from you in a few clicks is vital.
Feature the purchase button prominently on your home page, and include calls to action to purchase appropriately in Web copy. Consider integrating a pop-up depending on user action throughout the site, but test frequency and context so you retain customers and don’t drive them away. Make the shopping experience easily available on a variety of devices, and keep customers’ personal information secure by using encryption methods during the transaction process.
2. Responsive Design
Just like customer purchasing should be seamless on smartphones and tablets, the user experience on your business website should be pleasurable to visitors no matter what device they’re using. Pew Research Center reports as of October 2015, 68 percent of adults have a smartphone — nearly double the amount in 2011 — and 45 percent of adults own a tablet computer. Percentages climb as ages decrease, so if you want your business website to be relevant to a wide population, you’ll want it to appear and function exceptionally on any device.
Responsive design means your business website will adapt to the size of the screen it’s on, making it easily readable, allowing buttons to be pressed without requiring zooming or pinching, and ensuring it loads speedily to keep customers engaged. Many businesses are designing their websites with smartphones as top priority, since statistics indicate their popularity will only continue to rise.
3. Social Media Icons
Web visitors aren’t just using social media to connect with friends and post memes — they’re using social networks to get in touch with brands for answers to questions and access to digital customer support. Information technology research and advisory company Gartner reports businesses who don’t respond to users on social media can cause dissatisfaction resulting in up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers. Giving visitors to your website appropriate social channels they can contact you through is a way to wow them and keep them coming back.
Ensure your social media strategy aligns with your business objectives by getting appropriate employees involved in social media management — including legal and customer service — and by determining a communication plan that makes messaging consistent throughout all social channels. Use social media not only for promotions and marketing messages, but to get to know your customers to provide valuable insights for your business. Make sure everything you disseminate on social media is compliant with both laws within your industry and with the social network guidelines.
4. Customer Support
While acquiring new customers is meaningful, keeping the customers your business already has should be prioritized. A report by Harvard Business School found increasing customer retention rates by just 5 percent increases profits by 25 to 95 percent. Making access to customer support on your business website needs to be a prominent part of your strategy — and making sure there are people to help when support is contacted is just as important.
If your customers are global, consider employing contractors to act as 24/7 support contacts. Also, instead of simply listing a phone number to call, keep in mind today’s digital users may crave communicating via email or chat. Integrate a variety of ways for website visitors to reach you to ensure everyone is placated.
5. Search Engine-Optimized Content
If your paid media budget is meager, building your website to target search engines can help and should be part of any website strategy so customers can find your business. Even if you don’t have the resources to hire an SEO specialist, there are simple ways to make your business website more appealing to Google and other search engines.
Business.com reports an interesting trend in 2016 in the way people are searching: they’re using their mobile phones to speak their queries, which makes using structured data, or “rich snippets,” in website code a significant factor. Google has a handy free mobile-friendly test tool that allows website builders to analyze a URL for mobile-friendly design.
When writing content for your business website, think about what keywords relate to your business in how potential customers are searching. Use those keywords to drive your content, and integrate them in headlines and meta descriptions for Web pages, and in headers and body copy on pages. Search engines reward genuine content that isn’t keyword-stuffed — rather, it should be content that is actually useful to your Web visitors.
By beginning your business website building strategy with these five factors in mind, you’re on your way to capturing new customers and keeping current ones pleased with your Web presence.
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