Recently, I came across an amazing statistic that only 45% of businesses have a website. In researching this further I found another statistic that claims only 24% of businesses have a website. Yes, these statistics have been updated through 2012!! I am not sure which one is closer to being correct but nevertheless, I find it amazing that 55-76% of companies do not have a website. My guess is that most of these website-less companies are small business that just don't have the budget, time or resources. Or perhaps its because so many websites are poorly designed and provide little value to the companies that create them. Whether you are one of the minority that has a website, are looking for a website redesign or a company that is looking to develop a new website, don't even think about making changes until you read this article.
In the early days of the internet companies propped up a basic HTML website and called it a day. Back in 1994 this simple approach helped to generate great awareness. This was especially true when there were only 2738 websites in existence(according to Wikipedia) Today, a basic website with a homepage and a couple basic content pages is similar to a phone book listing. As of March, 2012, there are 644 million active websites on the Internet according to Netcraft. So, if you are building a website to help build your business avoid these common mistakes and put that website to work for you!
1. Lack of a Plan
Planning for your website build, launch and strategy is perhaps the single most important thing a business owner can do and yet is it often overlooked entirely. With 1000's of free website templates, do it yourself solutions and cheap freelancers, strategy and planning have taken a backseat to convenience and cost. No wonder so many business don't have a website or are jaded by the lack of return on investment from their current site. Prior to building a website businesses should consider how the website will be used to generate business, help customers, answer questions and create brand awareness. Before the build of the new website consider how your customers attain information. Think about the needs of your customers and prospective customers. What is your competition doing and how can you compete against them? What needs can you fulfill that your competition is not? How does the website fit in with your sales plan and how will it enhance your business?
During the launch process businesses should execute a launch plan with tactics on communicating the new website launch. Are you going to engage in social media? A blog? Do you have the time and resources to do this in house or will you outsource support? After launch you must have a plan for advertising and marketing. How do you plan on driving traffic? What types of people do you want to visit your website and how will you attract them?
2. Boring, Static Content
Your content should be remarkable, engaging and interesting for website visitors. If your website is filled with "what you do" content then you are surely not going to get much traffic. Consider your target customers and what types of content they may be interested in. Example: Think of every question a customer or prospect has asked you and build content around these questions and answers. Think about the best way to communicate your content. Should you present your message in a blog, web page, infographic, video, webinar, white paper or ebook? Every consumer prefers content in different formats. Some consumers prefer editorial text while others prefer graphics. Think about your target audiences and what they prefer. Write your content for your customers, not for you.
3. No Calls to Action
On a vast majority of websites the only call to action you will find is the Contact Us page (which is not really a CTA). For most companies, the goal of the website is to drive more business, sales and lead generation. Using calls to action throughout your site can help pull visitors through additional web pages and funnel them to engaging with your company. Engagements may not always be a phone call or a submission of a "request for quote". Remember, many visitors are just browsing and may be in different buying stages. Consider each buying stage and offer options to the visitor. If they are just researching your products offer downloadable data sheets or product spec sheets. Educate the visitors by offering white papers, industry knowledge, tips and tricks or other offers that require a visitor to download enhanced content in exchange for their name and email address.
If you're serious about business growth then you should be serious about your website. If all you have is an online brochure and you are looking for more information on how to turn your website into a sales machine, download our Website Design Best Practices ebook and learn how to take your website to another level.