A well-built website is one of the most important tools for your small business, even if you are not intending to sell your products or services online. Potential customers are able to discover your business through search, and those who have seen your marketing communications have a place to look you up. Deciding what to include on your small business website might seem like a mix of sorcery and copying what competitors are doing, but it really doesn’t have to be.
As we’re quite fond of saying on the blog, your website is really for your customers, even more so when it comes to small businesses. Everything that goes on needs to add value or solve a problem for them. In the words of Ray Kroc, “Look after the customer and the business will take care of itself“.
The one question: what are potential customers looking for when they get on your website?
Figuring out what customers typically look for goes a long way to informing what you should be including on your site. Generally speaking, there are a few main reasons a potential customer might go to your website.
1. A solution to a problem
Often, people search for problems because they don’t know what the best solution is. This is an excellent opportunity to show you are the best-suited to help. At this exploratory stage, the goal is not to make the sale yet, but to get into their consideration set. It would be best to educate them on how their problem can be solved, and not just how good your product/service is.
For example, if there was a trend of people looking to get out of debt (problem), a financial planner would do well to write a series of blog posts about ‘strategies to reduce debt’ rather than the cookie cutter ‘I can get you out of debt’ messaging. There will be people who find that another solution is more suitable – but these are the people you were unlikely to convert to high-value customers anyway. For the rest that decide they may need financial planning help – you much likelier to be considered.
2. Whether you can be trusted with their patronage
Another reason people land on your site is when they are comparing solutions. The question that inevitably arises is ‘can I trust them?’. Here is where your website can go a long way in convincing them your business is trustworthy. Here are a few things you can include to build that trust:
- Professional associations and certifications
- Client testimonials
- Links to third party reviews
3. Information about the business
I’m sure like me, you constantly look up operating hours, location/contact details and menu items for places you patronize and have also changed your mind because the said information was not available. Here are some things people regularly look for on a local business site that you may want to include
- Address: this allows someone unfamiliar with the area to plot in the address to a map on their mobiles
- Location map: Google has an easy to follow guide to embed a map on your website here
- How to get there
- Operating hours
- Contact Number
- Products and services
- Return policy
This gives the customer the information he or she needs to make a decision or to get to your store.
4. To buy your product or book your service
There is a growing trend in people relying on eCommerce for their needs. While it might be more suitable for some businesses than others, it is growing in importance. At a minimum, it should be something you consider.
For example, a customer might buy your product online and schedule it for a store pickup, which could allow you to pre-pack the purchase during the non-peak hours, freeing up valuable resource during the peak period. Or in another case, a customer can schedule a service online instead of having someone always ready to take the call and book it into the schedule.
If you’re a One.com customer you can explore eCommerce using our Webshop – currently there is a free three-month trial so you test drive it without having to pay.
5. Support and to give feedback
Of course, you should not neglect your existing customers too. After all, retaining customers should be as important, if not more than acquiring new ones. Sometimes, customers have followup questions or want to give you feedback. By providing an avenue for them to do so, ensures that you receive the questions and feedback. If something could have been done better, you can remedy the situation. If you did well you may want to ask if you can use the feedback as a testimonial.
6. Engage and be part of a community
Many businesses, word of mouth is a powerful tool – this can be encouraged. For example, if you’re a cafe, you can create a gallery of customer photos from social media and showcase it. By crediting the customers, you’re giving positive reinforcement to them, while simultaneously getting an endorsement.
By ensuring your customers find what they are looking, your website moves away from being a passive brochure and becomes the digital extension of your business you need to compete in today’s market.