Online sales have been booming. The trend has been there for nearly three decades, but it’s been increasing in recent years. And that trend will likely continue. Not necessarily the rate of increase, but the sheer number of purchases made online will continue to climb.
And it’s not just the buying. It’s the researching. People are going online to find information about all sorts of things that they are considering spending money on. They may purchase a lot online. Sometimes the actual purchase may be via phone or in person. But a lot of the traditional sales cycle is occurring online.
And it’s not just large businesses like Amazon that are seeing the change. Small businesses are seeing it as well.
Many small businesses have had websites for a long time. Many need updating. Some just need slight updating. If you’re looking to make yours more effective, here are some tips.
1. Define The #1 Goal
Every website does best when it has a goal.
The goal could be to take the customer through the entire sales process and get them to make a purchase. Or it might be to get them to call you. Or it might be to get them to schedule a time to meet you in person.
Small business websites should have a goal based on what you want the visitor to do on the site. This helps you focus the flow and design to accomplish the goal. Without the focus, things become confusing for the visitor and you wind up missing out on opportunity.
2. Make It Fast
Speed is the name of the game with websites. That’s been true for decades. People expect things to be fast. It will eventually reach a point of diminishing returns, but for now it’s still worth it to invest in a website host that provides fast surface, high uptime, and good support. Prices are even starting to come down, which is great.
If you’re having any issues at all with speed, especially if you test on difficult mobile connections, then it’s time to upgrade.
3. State What You’re Selling
It’s weird, but one of the things I like to do is visit small business websites and see how long it takes me to figure out what they’re selling. Try it on a few sites. It’s a fun little exercise.
The thing with business owners and managers is that you have a deep understanding of what you’re selling. But your customers, especially brand new customers, don’t. They are smart. They are great at what they do. But they know nothing about you.
So in the first heading on the site, state what you offer to customers.
Not some fancy or clever tagline or anything like that. Just the straight wording of what you are selling.
4. First Call-to-Action High On Page
One of the things that seems to work well is putting your main call to action at the top of the page. Let’s say you’re a small plumbing business and your main goal is to get visitors to call and schedule a repair appointment. Put that service and your phone number high on the page.
Visitors will often come to your website, read through the information and then leave. But then they will come back. Perhaps later that day or later that week. They’re ready to call after thinking about it. They want to find your call information as soon as possible.
If it’s a brand new visitor they can easily move past the call to action and continue reading about you and what you offer and things like that. And you can include calls to action later on the site, but be sure to include one early for repeat visitors.
It could also be that a person heard about you from a friend and they just want to contact you right away. They trust their friend and don’t need to read that much about you.
5. Share Pricing
In almost every situation I feel it’s good to share the price of what you’re selling. It’s one of the first questions people have for just about anything they’re thinking about buying. Imagine if Amazon didn’t share prices until the shopping cart. They even share prices for their customizable AWS service.
People are asking it. You might as well share it with them and let the sales cycle continue from there.
6. Initial Offer
If you feel that pricing might be too custom or some type of issue, consider an initial offer. Give new customers a way to learn more about you. Perhaps a free trial of something. Or maybe a smaller version of your main product. This could be the main goal for your website, to get users to take you up on this initial offer. From there, you can prove to them your worth and get them to make the bigger commitment.
7. Same Sales Flow As Real Life
If you’ve been struggling to get the most out of your website, take a step back and think about how your sales process occurs in real life. It might be in your store or office. It might be on the phone. Or maybe you go to where the customers are and do the selling in their environment.
Use that process to guide the flow and design of your website. Look at the first interaction. Look at the questions they ask along the way until you’re able to make them the initial offer.
Online sales isn’t complicated. People are still people even if they’re sitting at a computer or on a phone.
8. General Outline, Then Details
People do like to scan. It’s true if they’re reading a blog post. It was true even when we read books all the time. We liked to scan the table of contents to see what was coming. We even see it with a lot of podcasts these days. There is an outline of what to expect.
In many cases you can create an outline of the entire sales process on your homepage. Sometimes that will be enough for some to buy. But then leave the other pages, the detail pages, for giving people more if they want it.
You’re probably getting all kinds of repeat questions from prospects and customers. Take these and create an FAQ section on your website. If you’re getting questions over and over again in person or on the phone you can bet your website visitors are asking the same questions.
By providing the answers you’re helping boost sales.
10. Multiple Ways To Contact
You might prefer that visitors use your contact form and purchase and reach out via email. Test that for awhile. Maybe you specifically want to attract those types of customers. The ones that prefer and are comfortable working with email. That can work just fine.
But it can be good to offer multiple ways to contact. An actual email address. A phone number. Your location. People prefer different types of communication and if it doesn’t impact your business negatively and if you’re looking to attract as many people as possible, multiple is best.
11. Thorough About Page
The about page is surprisingly one of the most visited pages for most small business websites. But maybe it shouldn’t be surprising. People do business with people. When we go to McDonald’s we even remember the person that takes our order and hands us the food.
We do business with people. Create an about page for your company that is about the people. You can include some history of the business and things like that. But focus on the people. Both past and present if it makes sense.
Give new visitors insight into who they will be working with.
12. Regular Audits
It’s easy to think that your website is done after the initial design. It’s easy to think it’s done after a major redesign. But the reality is that a website is a living, breathing thing. You have to tweak it over time. Major designs are fine. They are sometimes necessary. But plan on regular audits. Every year and possibly every six months.
Go through and review the site. Figure out what is working and what isn’t. You’ll know more about your customers and your business. Make changes as you go.
Small business websites are more important than ever. People are going online to find products and services and they’re probably searching for you if they know you exist. If they don’t like what they see on your website they may start looking elsewhere. So consider these tips for making your website more effective as soon as possible.