Small businesses succeed by going the extra mile, by caring for their customers and by focusing on the things that matter. It is the level of value that the small business owner places on their customers, that truly makes them effective.
Where corporate entities often see the individual customer as a necessary “cog in the wheel of commerce”, the small business typically operates in far smaller and more intimate circles, “knowing each customer by name”.
A corporation can afford to bleed and lose the occasional customer, for a small business however, every customer represents a very real and very necessary part of their businesses and economic livelihood. For this reason, small businesses spend a large portion of their time ensuring that their existing customer base is well taken care of.
By now most small businesses understand the importance of a website to their business, however this website can (and should) exist as more than an “online presence”. This website can in fact be designed to go the extra mile and to service your customers productively, thoroughly and efficiently.
Here are five key tips to help you make your website as customer conscious as possible.
I know what you are thinking, you just got a website, now you have to get a mobile one as well?
Don’t worry, it really isn’t that difficult and in fact many web developers can roll this out as a part of the website package. For instance our business, Transition Marketing, while not in the mobile development industry, develops websites that work very well on mobile devices.
Alternately you can look into free software offered by guys like Google: (Google Mobile Website Software). This is bare bones type stuff, but on a tight budget it can get you started. This is the type of tool you look to if your current website is operated through Joomla, or similar software that does not inherently offer mobile capabilities.
Some Points To Consider Regarding Mobile:
- Mobile usage is quickly overtaking PC usage.
- It is the fail safe tool for a population on the move. Smart Phone technology is the biggest up and coming resource for everyone from the high school teenager to the Fortune 500 CEO. Regardless of who is looking for what, the lions share of these searches is happening on phones and tablets.
- By setting yourself up with an easy to find and easy to access online presence, you are hitting one of the highest online marketing demographics available: Mobile users.
- Being accessible on mobile tools, means your website is more easily shared among friends (Think about it this way, how often do you share something from your PC with your colleagues? Now compare that to the number of times you have shared something from your phone or tablet. Bingo!).
- Consider how important that one extra sale is. If a consumer is on the move, say on vacation, and they need a bathing suit, skis, refreshing beverage, tire change (etc.) in a hurry. YOUR business could snap up this sale, simply by creating accessibility.
- An added bonus, mobile sites are often be more accessible to a growing number of people NOT on the move, including the visually impaired or those who simply prefer touch screen to the traditional mouse.
Budgets are tight, and developing a mobile site in addition to a standard site can intimidate many owners. If mobile websites are cost prohibitive, than make sure you ask your web developer about mobile-friendly layouts.
2. Provide Extra Information.
What is one way to develop a loyal customer base? Go above and beyond and meet their needs as thoroughly and quickly as possible. What this can mean for websites, is providing the most useful information available (relevant to your industry) and ensuring it is easy to access from your website.
How do you know what information to share? To answer this try stepping into the consumers shoes, if they are on your website researching, pricing out, or looking to purchase, what information will make these processes the easiest?
(You may also want to consider asking third parties to visit your website and have them communicate their thoughts on the matter).
Consider providing valuable information related to manufacturers, warranty and products. For example:
- Warranty Policies.
- Product manuals.
- Manufacturer contact information.
- Troubleshooting guides.
- Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)
Providing this info is one more opportunity to win your customers loyalty. You are going above, providing the best service and showing that you care. Essentially you are reinforcing the small business brand promise that the customer is indeed point #1.
By providing this info you are building value into your website and giving customers a reason to keep coming back. Whether for purchase or for reference, getting this traffic is key. You want them on YOUR site, no one else’s, so give them reasons to keep visiting.
3. Give Help and Make It Accessible.
Offering extra information, and providing answers to FAQ’s is a big step towards a customer conscious website. Sometimes, however, no amount of information is enough, other times consumers simply need more clarity.
Ensure that your website includes contact information that is easily and readily accessible. Offer more than one avenue to contact your service or inquiry departments, if you are offering an email, make sure to offer a phone number also.
Consider providing links to external resources and information also.
Simply put, your web audience should be able to contact you from every page. Include an email in the footer, or a phone number in the header. Add a quick email button to the sidebar, or a hyperlink within your content.
The rule is clear: ALWAYS make it as easy as possible to find what is needed.
A simple, effective and all too often understated means of generating traffic, engaging consumers and building SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is to update your site regularly.
No one wants to eat week old left overs out of the fridge and this is the mindset one should have towards website updates. Stale content kills traffic, whereas fun, new content grabs attention (For more on the value behind fresh content we recommend this short post)
There are a number of reasons for this, but desensitization is probably the best word for it. After someone has seen the same image enough times, they blot it out. They do not take notice of it anymore.
Each update to your website generates new reason for the consumer to pay attention. It sounds cheesy, but the fact is that we take notice of new things and glaze over the old. Giving your audience a REASON to look around, will ensure that they do so.
How It Impacts SEO:
The same goes for Search Engines. They are hungry, but picky. Do not try to feed them stale old content because they will simply go elsewhere. Instead offer up fresh relevant content and Search Engines will treat your website like a delicacy, quickly sharing your site with all of their friends.
5. Keep it Simple and Keep it Organized
Now we will appear to contradict ourselves. We have just said to populate your website with all manner of useful content, but it must all be clean, clear and organized.
Hint: There is NOTHING WORSE then trying to find ones way through a maze of content and poorly laid out webpages on a website.
Offer up the content that will win your consumers hearts, but take the time to lay it out properly. Content can very quickly get out of hand, in fact it is often more difficult to remove content, then it is to add it.
Consider your website as equal to your storefront. The same care in laying it out must be taken. One must pay attention to detail, to the lay out and organization. Clutter is bad, on par with stale content.
Your website must be clear to navigate and understand, it must be quick to deliver. When I open a website, if it looks garbled, I do not even bother, I close it and go on to the next one, why? because I know that SOMEONE out there is offering the same service without the headache.
Most web developers will provide a potential webpage layout if you ask them to. Work with your designer to ensure your website is set up for success.
If you’re building your own site, stop every now and again and ask yourself this question: “What can I take out of here to make it simpler?”
You may need to remove entire paragraphs of text, or adjust colour schemes. Push back a border, tweak your columns, add an entire extra webpage, just make it easy to use!
Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated, it’s always a work in progress and it will get better with time, just keep at it
It is not enough to have a website anymore, the online competition in small business is heating up. Upgrading your storefront’s location and layout provides your business with an edge, it is the same for your website. Upgrade, improve and win your consumers hearts!
Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.