Starting a small business is tough. The long hours ensuring you have enough product, enough time, enough cash flow, enough marketing, and most importantly, enough customers, can seem overwhelming, but this is YOUR business and nothing can be as fulfilling and rewarding when things are done right and you see progress. One of the most, if not THE most important aspects of any business is it’s online marketing and business website. You may have the best product or service out there, but if you can’t execute online properly, you are in trouble.
Many times businesses fall short with their online marketing from simple mistakes, and other time HUGE mistakes. These oversights can drive away business and often lead to your competitor grabbing up that business. In fact 40% of people surveyed say they have turned to a competitors website after viewing a poorly design one.
So here are some of the most common errors small businesses make when building their online presence.
#1. Not Having A Website!
The year is 2015, and if you have a business and don’t feel the need to have a website to compete, you are kidding yourself. Aside from people having no way of finding your business while searching online, you have no way of communicating the products or services you provide. Sure you can list your business with yellowpages, but how effective will that be when your competitor is also listed under the same category and they have a beautiful website. The answer: not effective at all. You will be skipped over and lose that potential customer. Don’t make this mistake, get yourself a website ASAP
#2. Thinking Any Website Is Good Enough
Another mistake businesses will often make is thinking that having a website is good enough without any consideration of design, content or user experience. As mentioned above, there is a 40% chance people viewing your poorly designed website will go to a competitor based solely on appearances. Harsh I know, but it is a reality. People will have an instant judgement of the credibility of your business based on the website you have presented. If your website is hard to navigate, confusing, cluttered and looks like it was built in 2001 (or *cringe* earlier) you have a problem that is going to affect your bottom line. Now before your run off and start making your own website, please see #3 below.
#3. Taking The DIY Route And Building Your Own Site
Web design is not rocket science, but it is a skill that requires a keen eye for design and user experience that is best left up to the pros. Thinking you can save money by building a DIY website will not only cost you customers (as mentioned above), but it will also cost you the most precious asset you have, and that’s your time. You may spend hours and hours and days and weeks putting together this DIY website and in the end you will be hurting yourself and then needing to hire someone professional to fix things. So save yourself the time and focus on what you do best, and hire someone to do what they do best, which is make an awesome website.
#4. Not Having A Mobile Friendly Website
There used to be a time where websites were only being viewed on your desktop computer, but those days are long gone and today mobile is King. Your business cannot afford to not have a mobile friendly website. Over 50% of internet searches now occur on smart devices and if your website is not mobile friendly, there is a big chance you won’t convert that person into a paying customer. In fact 67% of users say that they are more likely to use a business that has a mobile friendly website. If that isn’t reason enough, then consider that Google loves websites that are responsive and mobile friendly, so your chance of ranking higher in searches is greatly improved if you a mobile friendly website.
#5. Not Taking Advantage of Social Media Integration
We are undoubtedly living in the age of social media and for any business, big or small, it can be one of your greatest tools to connect with potential customers, and loyal customers. A wise man once said that “No Man is an Island” and this holds true for your website. It’s fantastic that you have a beautiful mobile friendly website, but that shouldn’t stand alone waiting for people to discover, you should be driving traffic through Facebook, Twitter, Google + and depending on the type of business you run, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Creating engaging posts is only part of a great social media campaign, engaging with people is how you really succeed.
Too often I come across Facebook pages and Twitter accounts where potential customer’s questions and comments are left ignored. This is an easy to way to have your business ignored and potentially seen as no longer operating. TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! Respond to them. Like and favourite their comments. This is the best way to drive people to your website, and having social media widgets on your website is the best way to drive engagement with people on your social media channels. Utilize this feedback loop and your returns will be noticeable.
#6. Bad Design
I feel like I might be repeating myself here, as I mentioned in #2 and #3, bad design can be a big detriment to your business. People judge your business based on how your site looks and works, and if it’s bad, you have just lost yourself a potential customer. So what does “bad design” mean? Bad design is myriad of different things that can be happening right now with your website or could happen if you try and DIY your way to a cheap solution. Clashing colours, terrible font choices, confusing layouts, hard to navigate menus, cluttered pages, poorly aligned content, walls of text, broken links, animated clip art, and the worst of the worst Flash! If your website has any flash on it right now, put down whatever you are doing and contact me! There is nothing more annoying than having to update a Flash plugin for a website to work.
All these things mentioned are a sure fire way for people to think your business is not worth their time or money. You might think having a wall of text with 3 different typefaces that blink blue is eye catching, but it’s not, and you need to hire a pro. If you have broken links or a website that aligns to the left side of the screen, people might think you’ve gone out of business or your attention to detail is worrisome enough to look elsewhere for that product or service. You need to hire a pro. If you think hiring a pro is not where you want some of your marketing budget going, please see #3, step away from MS Paint and contact New Black Creative for a quote.
#7. Content Overload and Stale Information
Content is crucial for any business website, but having too much content can be overwhelming to the viewer and often times lead them off your website. It is important to be concise with your written content and not rely on walls and walls of text. Viewers will often come to your website looking for information and skim your content looking for key points. If your content is too lengthy, very stale and potentially out dated, visitors to your site will become disinterested and move on to another website. Keep it short, keep it fresh, and have a call to action!
#8. Using PDF files
Using a PDF file may seem like an easier way to display content on your website, but it’s not and most importantly, it’s super annoying. I personally encounter this method all the time, especially in the restaurant business, and if I click to view a menu and a separate browser window opens and loads a pdf file, I leave that site. Call me an internet snob, I am, and have little problem admitting that. Information should be displayed on a web page. Period. If you think you need to have a pdf so people can print a form, or keep a copy of a menu, just make your web pages printer friendly.
#9. Minimize Options, Focus On Simple Navigation
I touched briefly on navigation above while talking about the importance of design, but I feel this deserves it’s own point to expand on a broader topic and stress the importance of good navigation. The difference between a good website that converts viewers to customers and a bad website that does not, relies heavily on the ease of navigation. All too often websites will have way too many menu items in their navigation, presenting your viewer with an overload of information. Menu items with submenu items can be useful, but it is important to try and minimize the options to keep things concise.
If a viewer has to search through a dozen pages to gather the information needed to become a customer, there is a good chance you are over doing it with your menu. It also increases the chances of a visitor to your website leaving when they land on an irrelevant page. There is no magic number for this, but it is important to have a clean and easy navigation so people can locate the necessary information as quick as possible. And for the love of Pete, if you have a broken link in your navigation, get it fixed IMMEDIATELY! The most unprofessional thing you can do is have broken links in your navigation.
#10. Encourage Feedback And Collect Emails
The importance of feedback and email collection cannot be stressed enough. This is a direct link to your customers opinions about your service or product and the best way to improve the way you are doing business. Use social media to garner feedback on your business or your niche in general. For example, if you are running a Yoga studio, engage your followers with different questions. What is your favourite time to do yoga? Do you enjoy ashtanga yoga more than bikram? This not only promotes community around your business but helps you refine various aspects of how you operate.
Starting a newsletter is also a fantastic way to keep in direct contact with your customers and potential customers. Promoting new products, add on services, contests, announcements, etc.. This is free marketing to people who have already shown an interest in your business and one of the best ways to turn a potential or first time customer into a life long customer. That being said, don’t be spammy with your newsletter. One or two newsletters a month max would be my recommendation.
Now let’s take a minute to briefly summarize everything.
- Get yourself a website!
- Don’t slap something together when you do get a website.
- Avoid the DIY route. Hire a pro. Stick to what you do best and save yourself time.
- Make sure you have a mobile friendly website. Phones and tablets are here to stay.
- Use social media to promote and engage.
- Keep your design clean, easy to use, and visually appealing. Hire a pro.
- Create concise, exciting content with a call to action.
- Stop using PDFs! Staahhhp!
- Avoid choice overload. Simple, easy to use navigation is crucial
- Create a community and listen to them!
These are only some of the most common mistakes I see in business websites, and opinions may vary when it comes to this topic. I only offer them up as suggestions on how to really optimize your online presence. What do you think? Are you guilty of any of these mistakes? What are some of the most common mistakes you see that I didn’t include?
If you are guilty of any of these mistakes and are looking to get some help solving these problems, please get in contact with New Black Creative. With over 7 years of professional experience, you are in good hands and sure to have the most beautiful and affordable website in town. Get in touch today!