(By: Emily Gorsky, The Write Impact)
Why do you need a website for business?
These days, creating a website is both cheap and easy, even without coding knowledge, by using website building platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Google Sites and many others.
It’s not a stretch to say that if you don’t exist online, you may as well not exist at all. As a business, you need to be where your audiences are, and a website is essential.
62% of customers won’t consider a small business if they can’t find information about it online.
What’s the benefit of building my own site?
You might think, why can’t I just have a Facebook page that’s free and serves the same purpose?
The problem with relying on a platform that doesn’t belong to you, is that you are completely at the mercy of its rules that can change at any time.
Facebook is known to update their algorithm regularly to ensure its users are reading the most relevant information, potentially at the exclusion of your page, and this can limit your reach and harm your business.
By investing in a website, you’re in complete control of it, and your Facebook page can work alongside it to promote your brand. If you want a platform to market your business, to showcase your skills or to help your customers make decisions, a website is the best way to do it.
Where does a website fit in a sales & marketing funnel?
The sales funnel describes the process that a potential customer typically goes through before making a purchase. They begin from an awareness of the business, become interested, before making a decision and then taking action (the sale).
The wonderful thing about a website is that it can exist at all stages of the funnel, if you implement conversion metrics correctly. A website can be used in the awareness stage, and all the way through to the conversion stage if you sell online. In fact, the best use of your website would be to balance all stages of the funnel to get the best results.
If you’re not selling online, a website is still one of the best ways to showcase your business and provide information to potential customers who are searching online. Use your website as an online portfolio, advertise exclusive promotions, track sales and generate leads. You’re only limited by how much you’re prepared to learn or invest time in.
Here’s a quick example on how your website can function at every stage of the funnel:
- Awareness Stage: You need a strong “About Us” page and resources for visitors such as a blog post or training content - anything that can help your visitors learn about who you are and, most importantly, how you can help them.
- Interest Stage: Capture their interest by getting them to sign up to a newsletter, request for more information or a call.
- Decision Stage: By examining data from tools such as email marketing software, you can figure out where your subscribers are in the funnel. If they’re regularly engaging with your content, they’re likelier to buy or use your services. Then, you can help convince them to purchase.
- Action Stage: Keep your products clearly visible, place calls to action (CTAs) in your product descriptions and “add to cart” buttons where appropriate on your site. Make sure users can navigate easily and the user experience (UX) is practical and regularly tested.
It’s important to measure these outcomes. Monitor using Google Analytics, use landing page builders to monitor lead conversions and check your email marketing software to track open and click rates.
What should be the goal of my website?
The goal of your website depends on what you want to achieve with it. These are the 3 main purposes of a website:
- To showcase your brand - A website is one of the best ways to raise awareness of your brand by using it as a blog or an online portfolio.
- To generate leads - Your main goal could be to get more enquiries through phone calls or emails from potential customers. Or it might be to build an email list that you can then nurture through your sales funnel.
- To boost your sales - If you’re selling online, then your goal will be to tracks sales, conversion rates, and other marketing metrics.
2.Building a Website
(By Mircea Taune, Sigma AppDev)
What do you need to build a website?
There are plenty of options to build a website, from using the Google My Business tool to hiring an agency to do it for you. Let’s dive into how to build it yourself. Clearly, it depends on how much time you have.
- Determine your strategy
There are 2 main questions you need to answer:
- What’s the website’s purpose?
For example, your website’s main goal is to showcase your services and capture online orders. For this scenario, you will need to provide at least a simple structure of a homepage, about us, services and contact page with details. You will need to place CTA wherever needed so that it will be much simpler for users to reach out, book, or order your services.
- Who are your website users?
Let’s say, most of your website users are highly technical, comprising of people from the same domain as your business. With these type of users, it’s best to limit eye-catching images and animation. You need a clutter-free website, where everything is at least one click away from what users need, without having to scroll much to get what they want.
- Creating the website’s identity
This is where you design the key design elements of your website such as logo, primary font and colours. These will affect the look and feel of your website and should mirror your branding.
Tip: Don’t use more than 2-3 colours on a website and use a maximum of 2 font types - 1 for headings and one for normal text.
- Creating the content
This depends on your website’s purpose and type of users. The most important rule is you need great content and beautiful imageries. It’s good to look at others for inspiration, but never copy outright. You can hire copywriters and graphic designers to help you out.
- Header: few people realise that this is the heart of the website. From here, users reach to various parts of your website through the menu, touch base with your social media channels, and make a direct connection with the company.
- Homepage Slider or Banner: This is the type of element that can leave a lasting impression on a visitor. It will be the first thing they see, so leave an impact!
- Contact Form: Its purpose is to convert your visitors into customers or leads. Create simple and straight-to-the-point contact forms, so don’t write more information than necessary.
- Contact Information: You can place it in the footer or in the contact page. Include all main contact methods such as phone, email, fax, and address. This is also for SEO purposes. Google will read all the information to display it on their search pages if relevant.
These elements aren’t required, so you will use them as needed.
- Newsletter Form: This is a fantastic way to generate leads for your business. You should only use this if you can manage your email database. Don’t capture email addresses and sit on them.
- CTAs: They help in getting website users to do something, whether making an enquiry, buying or leaving a review. CTAs help keep your users engaged in a specific flow.
- Search: If you have a blog or an ecommerce website, then this is a must. Clearly some people will want to find specific information, so help them out. However, on smaller sites with less content, it can end up a wasted space.
3.People, Tools, Budget
What are popular tools or software to build a website?
There are many tools and software available to build a website. Although it’s best to hire experts, even if just for consulting, you can still build your own website by using these popular platforms:
This is probably the most popular Content Management System (CMS) out there. You can use it to build a simple blog or a 100% customisable website. There are plenty of good tutorials available to guide you. You can also buy a professional looking template with many marketing tools built in for just around $50.
This is, arguably, the most popular CMS for e-commerce websites. Magento provides everything you need in an online shop: online catalogue, email, invoicing and ordering. Many major payment and shipping providers provide plugins that you can use straight away. Expect to pay around $80 for a good-looking theme.
If you have less than 20 products, you can go with BigCommerce or WooCommerce, a WordPress plugin to turn your site into an online shop.
- Squarespace, Wix or Shopify
Some CMS require you to purchase your own website hosting. If you’re not keen on this, you can opt for complete solutions such as Squarespace or Wix. Shopify is another alternative for ecommerce sites. However, they may not offer as many customisations as WordPress and Magento.
What tools do you need to improve a website?
To improve your site, consider automating your processes and daily routines on your site.
Considered the best free web analytic tool, it gives in-depth insights on your visitors, content and campaigns, as well as tracks sales goals.
Email marketing software
A good email software such as MailChimp lets you manage your email list, create beautiful email templates without HTML knowledge, and gives you access to metrics such as who opened your emails and what links they have clicked.
If you are using WordPress, you should start with the following plugins:
- Yoast lets you easily manage your on-page SEO
- Mailchimp has a plugin which seamlessly integrates with your site
- W3 Cache will increase the speed of your website
- Contact Form 7 allows you to add and manage contact forms
How much does it cost to build a website?
Your budget will depend on how much you can afford because you can build a site cheaply or hire expensive agencies to build it for you. The main thing is to keep track of your return on investment (ROI).
Keep in mind that building a great website is an ongoing process. Your site needs to be regularly updated, marketed and monitored to stay ahead of your competitors and rank well with search engines.
Let’s investigate the cheapest path to build a site.
Domain (.com, .com.au, etc.)
As low as AUD$5
As low as AUD$10/month
As low as AUD$5
The cost of each item will vary based on many factors such as how popular your domain name is, how much bandwidth you need in your hosting server, and how customisable your template is.
Alternatively, you can opt for a one-stop solution such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace or Wix, where they take care of hosting, templates and domain names, but comes with a monthly fee.
What’s the cost to maintain a website?
Apart from monthly hosting fees, software fees, and other expenses, you should invest in marketing your website. This depends on your website’s goals. You can spend as low as $5 a month or thousands of dollars to get new customers daily.
You can look into:
- SEO tools such as Woorank
- Marketing tools such as HubSpot, Buffer
- Advertising your site on Facebook and Google
4.Growing website traffic
(By Ben Foster, The SEO Works)
What should you track in your website to measure success?
“What value is my website generating for my business?”
If you’re a business owner, this will be fundamental to your overall growth plan, and if you are a marketing manager it will help keep the boss happy! It’s great talking in terms of website “hits” - but this just scratches the surface. You may get a lot of visits but are they adding value to your business?
The first step is to use a web analytics software, such as the free Google Analytics. Then, start thinking about your site’s goals. Consider the purpose of your website. For example:
- Do you want to increase product sales?
- Are you looking to capture leads or enquiries?
- Do you need to improve customer satisfaction?
- Are you looking to generate more online engagement for your business?
- Are you conducting any marketing campaigns with your website?
These are 5 common website goals frequently tracked by SMEs:
1. Contact/enquiry form completed
The goal is to get website visitors to contact you, leave a message or request a call back. They can all be classified as leads for your business.
2. Product purchased
This is critical for ecommerce sites. You can measure things such as:
- Revenue generated by each product
- Total revenue
- Number of products sold
- Number of unique purchases made
- Average price of products
- Average value of orders
- Performance data based on a date range
- Number of days and sessions leading to a transaction
3. Key content downloaded or viewed
Another form of lead generation is by providing something of value to your website visitors, such as a free e-book, brochure or template. Often, visitors will need to give their email addresses in exchange for the freebie. You can measure how many visitors downloaded your freebie or viewed key pages on your site.
4. Registration or Subscription
If your site takes registration, this is another goal to track. Furthermore, someone subscribing to your emails demonstrates an engaged customer, or perhaps a great lead.
5. Social engagement
You can measure the number of shares, views, comments, bounce rate, and average time on page for your content. A highly engaged audience can turn into loyal customers given the right offer and incentive.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the technique of improving the ranking of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid result. This is often referred to as "natural", "organic", or "earned" results. Unlike a paid listing, ranking high organically means your website is there based on merit and is considered one of the most relevant sites for that specific search.
SEO remains one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies. It is more of a medium-term investment, as it can take time for your rankings to improve. In some cases, the ROI is over ten times the equivalent of paid advertising.
How do you use SEO to grow web traffic?
Start with a strategy
A successful SEO strategy is built around a detailed research into how your target audience is searching online for the product or service you offer. First, you need to consider the most popular searches in each phase of your target buyers’ journey.
Then, identify which keywords are relevant to your business. Finally, research your competitors and assess how they perform in comparison and pull all the data into a keyword map.
Consider ranking factors
There are around 200 organic ranking factors but as a macro view, there are 3 pillars of SEO: content, links, and technical optimisations.
- Content: You need unique and relevant content that are optimised for search.
- Links: Building a fantastic network of backlinks will be a key part of improving your ranking. However, quality is better than quantity. Never buy backlinks. Instead, earn them through relationships, partnerships, and great content. Be cautious of bad links that are pointing to your site, as it can damage your SEO efforts.
- Technical Optimisation: Search engines are robots and it needs to “see and understand” your site. You need to review and amend technical aspects of your website such as meta data, code to text ratio, 404 errors, site speed, and internal links which are crucial for online ranking.
Benchmark your site
There are plenty of paid and free benchmarking tools. They look at your online visibility, social profiles, conduct basic technology checks, and give a health score. They help to identify your strong and weak areas to improve your ranking.