Canadians are some of the biggest internet enthusiasts in the world, according to the CIRA Internet Factbook 2016. We spend more hours online than anyone else, seeking out an average of 80 websites, and 3,238 unique web pages per month. We’re also some of the biggest spenders, with online sales estimated to reach $39 billion by 2019.
As a small business owner, it’s vital to position yourself to exploit this traffic by creating a strong and professional online presence. You want to put your best foot forward, while giving them all the details they need to make a confident choice to do business with you.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a budding Bill Gates to make it happen. An array of tools, templates and resources exist to get your business online. Below, we’ve listed five pointers to help you create a starter website for your business.
Decide Why You Need a Website
Before considering anything else, you need to decide what purpose your website is going to serve. Do you want to provide an online business card for your company? Do you want to share information or insights on your industry in the shape of a blog? What about an online store where you can sell your product directly to consumers? This key decision will shape the development of your website, but it’s not a static thing. Starting without an online store makes things easier initially, and you can always add it in later. If you’re willing to put the time in to regularly update it, a blog is a fantastic tool to populate your business social media profile.
What Platform to Choose
The selection and value of “off the rack” Content Management / hosting services like WordPress and Squarespace has enabled those with little technical savvy to quickly create slick, tailored websites. It’s important not to make cost your number one consideration in this choice. Don’t simply choose the cheapest, or most expensive option, in the hopes it’ll provide a better experience. Instead, find the provider that best aligns with the features you need for your business. There are a lot of options available in this field, so it’s recommended to do your homework. We highlighted Squarespace and WordPress because of the vast array of plugins, both free and added cost, available in both to further customize your website.
The tried and tested purchase funnel has been used for generations to guide customers from awareness to action. It should be something you implement, even if you don’t host an eCommerce aspect on your website.
- Awareness – ensure the potential customer is aware of your product or service as soon as they visit
- Interest – does your website enable potential customers to find out more about your product?
- Desire – a potential customer wants to buy your product, have you given them clear instructions how?
- Advocacy – you now have a customer, have you given them a way to solicit feedback on your product? This could take the form of links to your social media.
For many people, content can be the hardest part of creating a website. You can use templates and hosting services to get the website live, but creating compelling copy that resonates with customers will keep them coming back. Speak about your product and your company in a friendly, informative way. Present pertinent details like how to contact you, where to buy, and opening hours in a prominent place. Your content strategy should extend beyond the website to include social media. Every savvy marketer is using social to promote their products, and there’s no good excuse not to be on there. If you’re knowledgeable about your industry, write blogs, join in the conversation, and attempt to create a community around your company.
Keep It Up to Date
Regardless of whether you plan on posting blogs, news, and visuals yourself, or you intend to take a more hands-off approach, it’s vitally important to keep your website up to date. Few things are as off-putting as visiting a website and finding headline information that’s months out of date. Not only will timely updates make customers want to come back, it will also help you rank higher on Google, as a regularly updated website will score higher for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) than one starving for updated content.