GET A WEBSITE … If you don’t already have one, create a website with an address exactly matching or as close to your business’ name as possible. Most potential customers look for a website to learn more, BEFORE they call, even before they do a web-search or look you up in the yellow pages.
It can be rather inexpensive to get started with an informational web site that you, or a qualified web developer, can tweak and grow as your business demands. The best thing to do is create an informational web site, that sets a precedence for your corporate identity and can be easily tweaked as you learn more about what your customers want to see from you on your website.
If you can find a developer who can offer “website templates” to get you started at a lower cost, this would be ideal. You shorten the development time and reduce the amount of money you have to spend because most of the design work is already done for you.
As you and your customers use your new website, you will learn from those experiences where the strengths and weaknesses are and can easily make revisions to suit. In time, you may want to have your site’s aesthetics redesigned to be more customized, or you might discover the need to add some sort of database driven application such as eCommerce or customer login areas to your website.
The important thing here is you didn’t spend a large sum of money on your website until it was making money for you … now the expense is justifiable … AND your prospects and customers got a chance to drive the direction of your online offerings, which is most important because they are usually the target audience.
To get started, call a local web developer to find out more – make sure they’ll provide ongoing support at a reasonable rate, that they have the skills in-house to work on your site whether it is Informational, eCommerce, Database driven or even Integrated online/offline software.
Many businesses find it HIGHLY useful when their website developer is also capable of providing graphic design services for offline materials. This helps keep a businesses identity coordinated and cuts down on time, expense and possible confusion by limiting the number of “hands” in the project. If, in addition to these services, your developer is also qualified to help you market your business as a whole, not just your website, you will be much better off.
By considering the other ways your web developer can help you, when choosing your new web development firm, then, when you’re ready for a project other than your website, your developer will know you, your business and your corporate identity – very well. This can save A LOT of time and money in the long run.
When evaluating a firm, please be sure to ask any potential vendor for references and customer testimonials. Look at samples of their work on their websites, but also ask the developer to send you their marketing collateral via “snail-mail.”
Find out who’s visiting your website: Add as many opportunities as you can, for a website visitor to communicate with you. Always request an email address and find ways to use it (with permission).
Always request an email address and permission to send the occasional follow-up message. This will greatly reduce your marketing expense, help you to learn more about who’s visiting AND, if you use an automated email follow-up system, help you to keep in touch with them on a routine basis. Ask your webmaster for more info.
Additionally, check with your webmaster … make sure there is website traffic reporting set up on your site. This will tell you information like:
- where visitors came from (i.e. search engines, emails, direct entry, etc)
- when, how often and how long they stayed
- what paths they took through your site (i.e. what pages they went to and in what order)
- what page they were on when they left your site
- what page they hit when the entered your web site
- how long they’re staying on each page
- what search terms they used to get to your site … and more …
This information can help you modify your web site as you learn about its use by your visitors. If they’re always leaving when they get to the page that tells them about price … for example, perhaps there’s a problem with either how you worded the page, or your pricing.
This is so very important that we include FREE server-side web traffic reporting for all sites we host on our web servers.