I was in Florida walking the beach and looking for the closest coffee shop. I picked up my cell phone and typed “coffee shop near me,” and up popped the search results in Google Maps. I clicked on directions and started to walk. During my stroll I compared the businesses on the Google map to the storefronts I saw visibly during my stroll. There were many actual businesses not showing on the map. In the virtual world, they simply did not exist. This is just one instance of how having a website benefits businesses large and small.
Consumers look for a website to learn more about a brand. In fact, 92% of website visitors do not make a purchase the first visit – they are just checking you out. Websites communicate your brand story, what you do and how you do it. Conveying these three company sensibilities provides a solid foundation for forming a relationship with the visitor. It creates an emotional connection with the reader and compels them to learn more. It’s important that you clearly communicate what you do, how it benefits the consumer and the results they can expect from your product or service. Share your success stories for inspiration and client reviews. Credibility and trust are key elements in forming a virtual relationship.
Increase your credibility with a website by including:
Your Brand Story: Every great brand story includes the purpose that birthed the company and makes an emotional connection to the reader.
- What you do.
- How you do it.
- How your product or services benefit
- Examples and inspiration.
- Positive client reviews.
Websites are up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are a virtual billboard that connects people looking for your services and products. Websites that have a consistent search engine optimization (SEO) program in place will prominently show in Google or Bing searches for specific search terms. SEO is the process of improving your website by identifying search terms people type in to find your products and ensuring Google, Bing and others place your website on the first page for that search term.
When connected with Google Maps, your website and location will show in maps to people searching for businesses “near me.” Websites that have a “Contact Us” form that captures email addresses enable your company to further expand your visibility and touch points to the consumer or potential employee by emailing them. Including a blog post page on the website increases your visibility by providing search engines with new content and consumers with information and inspiration.
Improve your visibility with a website by including:
- An ongoing search optimization initiative.
- A connection to Google Business.
- A contact form that collects email addresses of potential clients.
- New and inspirational content provided in news and blog posts.
Reducing redundant administrative tasks allows business owners to lighten the workload of existing employees, freeing them up to do higher level tasks. Appeal to future employees by sharing information on your employee benefits package and work environment to entice like-minded candidates to apply. Employment applications can be filled out online, automatically emailed to the appropriate staff while a friendly text acknowledgment receipt is automatically sent to the applicant in tandem. Chatbots are pop-up instant text apps that can answer commonly asked questions, freeing up customer service to handle more complex tasks. As more companies expand to a virtual world, employee handbooks, required notices and events can be stored on the website for easy access.
Integrating lead funnels on your website helps guide new visitors to learn more about your company and walk them through awareness, consideration and conversion. An example of a lead funnel would be an automated email campaign that sends specific emails to the visitor based on their viewing interest. Combining a well-developed lead funnel with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool automates the process.
Expand the efficiency of your organization by adding:
- Auto text responders that reply with a helpful text immediately after receiving a website inquiry.
- Employment applications, inquiries and notices.
- Auto forwarding of completed website forms to the appropriate staff.
- Chatbots that answer commonly asked questions.
- Lead funnels.
Your website is your intellectual property – you are in the driver’s seat overseeing this domain. It can collect information from visitors, and offer updates to employees and customers alike.
By enlisting SEO, your visitors will grow and alleviate the need for paid digital advertising. Ideal SEO includes a constant supply of new content on your website to draw visitors. Social media pages should augment your website, not replace it. Businesses that rely on a Facebook Business page to generate sales will be at the mercy of the social media platform. For example, a Facebook Business page can be closed erroneously by Facebook, or worse hacked with no chance of recovering all the work you put into it. Relying on a social platform 100% to support your sales and legacy information is not an ideal business model. Your own website is a priceless sales insurance policy.
Create a Stable Website by:
- Owning your website and not relying on a Facebook, Houzz or Instagram Page.
- Investing in website security firewalls to protect your website from hackers.
- Enlisting SEO to assure it remains visible in search engines like Google and Bing.
I have helped large and small companies create their digital footprint, and build websites that work to improve leads, reduce the administrative burden and create sales growth. The website is the workhorse of digital sales. I liken it to a salesperson, where the website’s other social media platforms encircle the website and complement it, much like a person attending networking events to promote their business. Working in tandem with a trusted marketing firm to create a website benefits companies in many ways and provides unlimited and stable growth opportunities. ▪
Denise Grothouse has an extensive background in international business, branding and marketing. She specializes in digital and social platforms and integrating them with traditional marketing and branding strategies in the kitchen and bath industry. She is the founder of Perfect Six Marketing, director of public relations of HeroPlex, and vp of the Executive Forum of the Lehigh Valley.