What do you really hope that your website does for your business?

Having a website built for your business is fairly easy to do. But, to have a website built that actually grows your business is hard. If you do it right, your website will take your business to new heights. If you think about it, there is really no reason to have a website if it doesn’t have a major impact on your business.

Many entrepreneurs only consider the lowest bidder or the easiest solution for a website like hiring some kid down the street. Just put something together and that’ll do. The fact is that that won’t do, not if you want your site to make money for you.

There are too many things to consider to have an amateur build your website.

Before you decide to use some amateur to create your website, think about the following:

What’s this number, 947,885,264?

It is the number of websites in the world today and growing every second. That means that there are nearly 1 billion websites in the world. What that means is that you have more competition today than ever, and tomorrow you’ll have even more. As you’re considering whether to add another site into the mix, consider whether the kid next door can really do enough to make your site stand out among the masses.

Before you hire a web designer, ask yourself these questions:

What are you hoping to do with your website?

Within the business world, there are three general kinds of sites:  An informational landing page, a lead generation site, and an online store.

An informational landing page exists to supplement the advertising that you do online or offline. You list your page on every ad you place, on the bottom of your business cards, and on any printed materials. You create this kind of page to have a narrow focus on a promotion, product or service. At the end of the day, though, this kind of site is basically just a brochure put on the web with a call to action. Informational landing pages are not bad in and of themselves, but you want to consider if this is the kind of web marketing is enough for your business.

A lead gen site is a notch above a landing page and has the main goal of generating its own leads for your business. This is the kind of website that most services should want. The goal of a lead gen website is to catch a person’s attention as they browse and get them to take action upon reviewing your site, with the goal of eventually making a sale from the contact.

Lastly, you may hope to have an online store through which users can directly buy your goods or services.

A website may have multiple strategies behind it, but until you define what you hope to do by building it, your website will not stand out and bring you business.

How can someone discover your website?

Many entrepreneurs think of traffic to their site last. They are more worried about shades of colors, the exact pixel size of their logo, and other trivial things.

Traffic is what makes your website worth having.

With so many different sites out there, the chance that a customer will come across your site naturally without doing some serious SEO is fairly low. If you were to determine how much a sales lead costs simply by users randomly accessing it, you wouldn’t spend the money to create a website in the first place. Because you should only build a website to generate profit, it’s vital that you have a strategy in place to help people to be aware of your site and want to spend time on it.

If you have a marketing plan based primarily on offline access — things like word-of-mouth, newspaper ads, or call centers — you may want to send your leads on to your website to learn more about your company and what you can offer. In this case, you can use your website to extend the reach of your physical advertising strategies. If you have a marketing plan based mainly on users who access your company online, you’ll want to make sure that your website is highly visible through searches, links, and ads on key sites that relate to your business.

How are you going to make users stick around on your website?

On average, a person will stay on your website for about a minute. It can be tough to sell a product in such a short time — doing so takes strategy. So how can you do it? Through your content. To entice a user to stay on your website, you need to give them something that they are looking for. This may be information or guides that they can’t find somewhere else that are directly useful to them. If the only content on your website is sales speak, no one will stick around to look through your products.

You’ve gotten them to the page…now what?

Most business owners would reply, “Get them to purchase something!” or “Call us!” and these are valid goals…but from a first-time visit to your site, customers usually don’t feel like they know you well enough to buy from you yet. The best way to sell products or services is to develop a relationship with the customer. How can you build trust? By offering information that is helpful, while asking for a way to keep in contact. Be careful, though, not to abuse the information a customer gives you by filling up their inbox with junk!

What will entice a visitor to keep returning to your website?

The best way to keep users coming back to your site is to have enough useful content to make your customers want to add a bookmark for your page and return later. It is important to be able to add and change the information available at your site. After all, if your website always stays the same, no one will want to return.

What methods are you going to use to see how your website is working?

There are no guarantees when it comes to a website. For this reason, it is important to have tools that will allow you to see how many people have come to your site, what time of day they accessed it, how they got there, and what pages they visited. Whenever you change something on your website or change the way you advertise, make sure to see if your numbers change. By making changes slowly, you can see what avenues bring the most revenue.

Do you want your neighbor’s kid being in charge of your web presence?

While a lot of companies can offer you a lot of flashy features, in the long run, it is often better to have a simple business strategy that allows your content to shine. Just like a flyer, a great website is a part of an overall marketing strategy. Whatever company you use to design your website, make sure that your marketing plan runs your website, rather than letting your website run your marketing strategy.



photo credit: Seattle skyline