Tag Archives: Web Sites

5 Must Haves for Every Small Biz Site

[tweetmeme]
by Ken Builder
Courtesy of Manta

I’ve put together a list of 5 must-haves that every small business website needs to include. Whether you’re building a website yourself, or have a web designer to do it for you, work through this check list and you won’t go wrong.

1. Contact details.

It might seem a bit obvious this one, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to add their contact details. Not only must you have your contact details–at a minimum your address, phone number and email address–but you must make those details easy to find. Don’t hide them away in the footer. Make the “contact us” page one of the most obvious ones. Because having a website boils down to just one thing: making more sales. And if your website visitors have a hard time getting in touch, then they’re not going to buy from you.

2. Map

A bit less obvious, but a must-have that can make a real difference to the number of leads your website generates. The nature of the Internet is anonymous–we’re all dealing with companies and individuals through a computer screen. And because of this, the Internet is a scammer’s paradise–it only takes a few minutes to build a website and pretend to be a company. So having a map of where you are adds a real reassurance to your website visitors. It turns a virtual interaction into something more solid, and gives your website visitors the peace of mind that you’re real people living in the real world

3. A Lead Capture Form

This is the next step on from adding your contact details. Many website visitors want to know more about your products and services, but are disinclined to give you a call or drop you a line. But they’re quite happy for you to get in touch with them. And in order to make that possible, you need a lead capture form. Think of this as a sales assistant approaching a shopper, rather than a shopper going out of their way to approach a sales assistant. A lead capture form allows your website visitors to leave their details and express an interest in you, without going the whole hog of picking up the phone. And since many people surf the web out of office hours, the chances are that the time that they’re actually on your website is a time when you don’t have anyone to answer the phone. Having a lead capture form allows you to give them more information when it’s convenient for you, and lets them express and interest when there’s no one around to talk to.

4. Photos of You and Your Staff

This is another great way of reassuring your customers about who they’re dealing with. In the same way that having a map gives your web visitors the confidence that you exist, having your photos on the website creates a personal connection between them and you. It’s so much harder to turn away from a face than a computer screen. Having a photo kick-starts a personal relationship with your website visitors, and it makes it much more likely that the visitor will then get in touch. The added advantage is that not many websites include personal photos, so get this right and your site will start to get head and shoulders over the faceless ones around it.

5. Newsletter Sign-Up Form

This option is a good opportunity to warm up future customers. Many people surfing the web for products and services will be in a “research” phase of the buying cycle. They’re not ready to get in touch or start buying just yet, but they are interested in finding out more information. Having a newsletter allows you to start to interact with them before they’re ready to buy. They get the opportunity to “‘taste” your service and personality, without having to commit to buying from you. You can start having a conversation with them, so that when they do decide to buy, that relationship already exists. And as anyone running a successful weekly or monthly newsletter will tell you, it can be the biggest source of new leads for your website. So add a newsletter sign-up form, and start emailing news about your company and industry to those signing up, and the customers will surely come.

5 More Must-Haves For Every Small Business Website

About the Author: The webeden.co.uk free website builder lets you build a website, even if you’re a complete beginner. Make your own website instantly with WebEden:You can sell your products, uploads your own videos and music and even integrate your blog.

Advertisements

Is Google SideWiki Wicked or Good?

Google SideWiki: What Are the Implications for PR?

Ever since Google SideWiki launched in late September, marketers and PR pros have been watching it with a close eye. Basically, with SideWiki anyone using Google Toolbar can post and view comments on your site. However, the comments reside on the Wiki and not on your actual Website. Eitan Bencuya of Google Corporate Communications tells PRNewser “Google Toolbar has hundreds of millions of users around the world.”

We asked a few digital marketing executives for their take and what they are advising brands to do.

“I have spent a bit of time with SideWiki and what I’m equating it to is graffiti,” said David Bradfield, SVP & Senior Partner and Global Chair of the Digital Practice at Fleishman-Hillard. “You have your controlled property and now you have this conversation appendix that can be really great or really bad. We haven’t had to deal with any such really bad or really good when it comes to SideWiki but it does have major implications. Clients don’t see it as major threat or major opportunity. We see a number of companies taking control of SideWiki’s and aligning them with codes of conduct, tying it to a disclaimer or commenting policy.”

“Despite the newness of this specific concept, best practices still apply to any organization that wants to protect their brand given the newness of SideWiki,” said Erin Byrne, Chief Digital Strategist Burson-Marsteller.

“First, you should monitor SideWiki as it relates to key Webpages for your organization; both from a branded and contextual perspective. Second, you should be ready to engage and respond when necessary – empowering people within your organization to fulfill this function based on areas of expertise and comfort level with social media. Third, use common sense. You can and probably should respond to regular inquiries, comments and gently correct honest mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Tom Barnes of agency MediaThink outlined the following five-step plan SideWiki reputation plan.

Step 1: For the love of all things holy: Get there first.

Step 2: Welcome constructive comments in SideWiki itself.

Step 3: Monitor continually.

Step 4: Report every abuse.

Step 5: Follow traditional crisis management fundamentals. Plan messaging in advance.

Courtesy of Media Bistro.

Small Businesses NOT Keeping Up With Online Presence

outdoor-vision-user-photo
According to research from Webvisible and Nielsen, reported by Marketing Charts, though 63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend less than 10% of their marketing budget online.The research finds an accelerating trend toward online media for local search. However, the report says the study uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online.

The survey found that search engines are the most popular source for finding local information:

  • 82% use search engines
  • 57% use Yellow Pages directories.
  • 53% use local newspapers
  • 49% use Internet Yellow Pages
  • 49% use TV
  • 38% use direct mail
  • 32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while 24% chose the Yellow Pages directories.

92% of searchers say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines, though 39% report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business. This means, says the report, searchers don’t may choose to contact a similar business with a stronger online presence.

Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services. Compared with two years ago, respondents report they use search engines and email newsletters more, while they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less:

Consumer Use Of Media Compared to Two Years Ago (% of Respondents)
Media Use More Use Less
Search engines

72%

1%

E-Mail newsletters

35

7

Yellow page directories

16

23

Local newspaper

10

25

Magazines

11

31

Direct mail

9

27

Radio

9

23

Source: WebVisible and NielsenOnline survey November 2008, February 2009

Despite the growing use of online media for local searches, only 41% of small businesses report turning to online search engines first, and 31% turn to Yellow pages directories first. In addition, only 44% of small businesses have a website.

When using a search engine to find a business they know exists, only 19% of survey respondents report never or rarely encountering trouble locating that business online and 39% say they routinely have difficulty.

Though less than half of small businesses do have a website, the ones that do are not happy overall with their online marketing. Among those small businesses that have a website:

  • 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new customers is only “fair” or “poor”
  • 30% of business owners feel that they typically do a better job of marketing than a close competitor
  • 78% believe they advertise in the same places as their competitors
  • Only 7% of small business owners say their primary marketing goal is to get more visitors to their website
  • 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing their website
  • 99% of small business owners are directly involved in the marketing
  • 65% believe it is very important to know where their customers come from
  • Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts
  • 78% of small business owners dedicate 10% or less of their budget to marketing Of those, 30% do no Internet advertising

 Over the past two years, 43% of small businesses say they have increased use of search engines in their marketing efforts. In contrast, use of traditional small business advertising mediums is on the decline:

  • 23% say they use the Yellow pages less
  • 42% say they use the local newspaper less

Courtesy of the Center for Media Research.