Everybody has a website.
Not all websites are the same.
Depending on the nature of your small business, your website does different things.
For an online shop, it is more like a catalogue. Comparative price and availability are critical factors (less so if you make/sell bespoke products).
For a service-based business, that sells offline and competes less on price, it is a referral tool. For example, if you’re a recruitment consult or interior designer your website goal is to convert a visitor into an enquirer or a follower or, at the least, an interested party.
Regardless of the outcome, the transaction does not begin and finish on the website. In this case the website role is to make a connection with the potential customer and persuade them to give you their attention and time.
Fundamental to this is your offer:
- Differentiation – Why is your company (brand) different from the competition?
- Relevance – How are you useful to the customer?
In other words, your website needs to express a likeable personality, include the right information, presented in the right way and do a great job of answering their questions and removing any doubts. It needs to tell your story, but written for the customer.
It also needs to be clear in where next. Perhaps a chat box to make it more personal, a download, some sort of sign-up or capture, handover to social media or an enquiry form. Often described as calls to action, these are essentially ways to extend the conversation.
Ultimately, for the not selling online service-based business, your website is a relationship building tool. It is a big part of the (long-term) process of asking a prospective customer to put their trust in you. To move from the virtual world to human engagement, where the deal will be done.
To do this, it has to function like a smart, empathetic and insightful sales-person. It needs to be an object of substance. Clear strategy, sound structure, good design, great copy and imagery all combining to create a unique customer experience.
It is part of a bigger, joined-up, communications system that keeps the conversation going until such a time that they feel confident to buy.
Giving your website the respect, resource and salary of a team member is much more likely to deliver significant return on investment. After all, everyone has a website, so you need something better.