Why business websites need fresh contentWebsites for business are sometimes considered a set and forget proposition. Once the design, content and images are up, the site has been published most businesses feel the work is done. But websites like any part of your businesses branding and reputation require ongoing maintenance and development. Without new content, new images, updating and securing of the code your website will stagnate. It will get lost in the information provided by your competitors and pushed to the bottom of the Search engine rankings.
Here comes the Stats on WebsitesResearch shows that approximately 78% of Business to Consumer ( B2C ) and 75% of Business to Business (B2B) purchasers use the both the internet and social media to research suppliers and businesses before committing to a sale. This research by buyers, who have access to hundreds of varying and alternative competitors and suppliers, who read online reviews, then compare different suppliers and pricing lead to self qualifying customer. A self qualifying customer is someone who has educated themselves on the type of product or service they want and by the time they contact a business they are ready to buy instead of needing more information. In fact it has been shown that by providing enough information to potential clients you can reduce acquisition costs for gaining new clients. Consumers engage in research on websites and social media reading an average of 11.4 pieces of content before they make a purchase. If your business website doesn’t have compelling fresh content that is relevant to what a potential customer is looking for then your business is most likely going to miss out on sales. And it isn’t about the direct, immediate sale either. The buying cycle of customers is extended. In previous years the person making a purchase, especially a large and or expensive outlay would do research in the form of asking friends and family, reading magazines, newspapers and visiting numerous stores that stocked the item they were interested in. Usually with in a shorter time frame and with less information than they do today.
More StatsEvery year people spend 36 Billion minutes online with just under 18 Million people doing all of this browsing. That is 27 Billion page views. And these are statistics for Australia only.(2) In dollar terms from August 2014 to August 2015 online sales totaled $17.5 Billion dollars. This was lead by Electronic games and toys which rose by 27.2% followed by Media (17.7%), Fashion (11.4%) and personal and recreational goods (7.3%). All Categories except for daily deals showed growth.(3) Is your business online and selling to this ever increasing market place ?
What does this mean for your Business ?So fresh content, a new blog post or photograph of your latest completed work is important to get up and seen on your social media profiles and website. It gives your business authority. It gives your customers somewhere to go and look at your work, your prices, and your business as a whole. Having your customer base be able to find you online is important for the longevity of your business, the promotion of your business brand and the income you derive from the business. The way to survive in today’s online 24/7 world is to have the information about your products and services up on your business website, the latest photos of your work on social media profiles and your news and blogs circulating on related websites, social media pages, and media outlets. With out a plan and strategy in place to handle your online profile, to handle how your web design is built to interact, how your social media posts and content are timed and displayed, your business is not profiting from the online market place. You and your business will be left behind by your competitors who will take advantage of all the tools and customer engagement process they have to build brand awareness for their potential customers.
What can your Business Do ?So what can you do ? Talk to someone about your business, sit down and map out a strategy for your business. Mesh that strategy into your current business model and lay the ground work for future online sales. Going from nothing to a healthy online profile is going to take hard work, a concentrated effort and a deliberate focus on your website and social media strategy. The sooner you start the better off you will be down the line.
- THE AUSTRALIAN ONLINE LANDSCAPE REVIEW FEBRUARY 2015
What’s involved in building a business website.The length of time it takes to create your website depends on the complexity of the content you wish to add to your website and is also depends on several other factors like graphics, type of website and time frame. The complexity of your site depends on the amount of content, photos and graphics that you will be using to display. Is your site a straight up information portal for your business or will it be an e-commerce website selling your product online 24/7. One of the biggest factors is content for your webpages. If you have content ready to go for your site then putting it together is that much quicker. But if the website’s content needs to be written, edited and approved then that adds to the length of time to get the site live. Graphics are another big issue. Your Business logo can be a problem if it has been sometime since it was first designed. Ideally when developing the website a hi-res image of your logo in either a .png, .jpg, .tiff will be needed. This way the developer can resize the image to maximise load time while keeping the business logo clean and crisp. And if you have photos that need to be added to a gallery that have been taken with a digital camera, those images will need to be resized, compressed and readied for the fastest possible load time on your website. If your website is an e-commerce site then the product images need to be taken, uploaded, stored, tagged and connected to descriptions and pricing. When you have hundreds of products and services that your business will be adding for sale then this will increase the length of time the site takes to be ready. Even with relatively small amounts of products for sale the length of time to enter the products into each category can be painstakingly long. In some cases businesses have already built databases containing this information and if it can be exported into a form that can then be imported into the website this will make the process much quicker. There are also POS (point of Sale) products that can make use of the one database for both in store and online sales which is something you could discuss with the designer at the time of your websites development. (VEND for example) Not to worry though because at the time you decide to go ahead and build your business website your web designer will give you a list of requirements they need to get started building. This will look something like this:- – Logo image for website – Photo’s and any other images for the website – other graphics to be added to the design – Content – wording for each page – Copyright permission forms signed for any images supplied that require it – Video links from where the videos are hosted – Optimised videos (of course the developer can take care of that though) – Login access to website hosting site, if you are hosting it away from the developer. And any other items specific to the build of your site. Then there is the urgency with which you need the site up and how much other work a website developer has at that point in time. Points to consider when building your new website or updating you existing business website.
You’ve just decided that your business, existing or brand spanking new needs a website to get your brand and your message out there. So you ask yourself, what now? It’s a complex question and a exciting time. Before going to a Web Designer there are a few things you can do to help get the process started. Any business web designer you go to will need to know a few basic things about your business to begin the building of the site. Here are a few of the questions you might want to consider asking yourself when your ready for a business website. What is the goal of my website ? Is it for selling a product or service directly to customers ? Is my website better suited as an e-commerce business site? Who are my customers ? What are the age ranges, locations, or other definable traits of my target market. If I want to sell products from the businesses website how am I going to take payment ? Do I need a merchant account or will I use pay pal? Is there a secondary goal of the website? For instance if a visitor to my e-commerce site doesn’t make a purchase then do I want them to sign up to a product newsletter, or have them leave contact details so a staff member can contact them directly. Or is the website all about branding my product and providing information to potential customers? Many visitors to your website will be simply researching a future purchase or looking for a particular service and getting an idea of pricing, delivery times and other important ideas before committing to a final purchase. Social media connections, do I need all the social media sites or are there ones that are better suited to my business, I.E Pinterest to display winning pictures of my product range? Then there are the decisions about marketing the site, whether to push the launch of the site with online advertising and integrating it into Social media campaigns on a business Facebook page. A website also needs to fit into and complement the current marketing and branding material your business organisation currently uses. Being able to supply a current logo, and any other images or graphics you want you business website to display is also a must. Copyright permission on images that you don’t own need to be obtained. For instance if you wish to use images containing staff from your business you may have to obtain a release form from each person appearing in the photograph. A landscape developer sells his work to a new customer based on work he has previously done, this is often through word of mouth from past clients who show the work they have had done to family, friends and people in their street. A previous client used to carry a photo album of his work around, both before and after shots. It is a very effective tool to not only show how something could look but acts as proof of competent work done by the landscaper. The modern version of this is a website with images of the various gardens before and after on the site, in fact one very effective tool that can be used is for the landscaper to carry a tablet around to each new quote he attends. Calling up the website on the tablet and simply flicking through the before and after shots in high definition colour is an effective tool in showing proof of concept and work to clients. Though with the photography being on the web, express copyright and permission in most cases are required to be held before displaying other peoples properties. And is one of the many things a web designer will help you walk through and understand if needed. When it comes to it, building a new or revamping an existing webpage into a successful, attractive business website that builds your business brand and reputation takes time and a lot of questions. A good web developer will take the time to get to know your needs and your requirements and come back to you with a design that helps build and grow your business online.
Take away from the article for those of us who are time poor:-
If your website isn’t mobile ready you are losing customers!Even with the warning Google gave leading up to its latest algorithm change on April 21st 2015 many Australian business websites are not mobile ready. Approximately 80% of Australians own a smartphone. And nearly all of those smartphone owners use their mobile device to browse the web researching purchases, locating restraunts or trying to find a businesses contact details. In fact in some areas like hospitality, accommodation and food service between 42 and 50% of website views come from mobile devices. (For those interested there is an article here on restaurants ) And another factoid, average internet usage on a mobile device is 1.85 hours per day, rising to 2.84 in the age range 16-24 years. What does this mean for your business? And how does that effect the number of customers finding your place of business online? Lets try to put this into perspective, 75% of Australian Small to Medium Businesses have some sort of Internet profile. This internet profile could be website only or include multiple social media profiles, Facebook being the most popular, although Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are up there too. Businesses with a Social Media profile only are in the minority and are usually a micro/home based businesses. Now lets consider this. Out of the 75% who do have a business website only 26% are mobile ready/optimised. Lets put this into a real life situation:- Introducing Susi and Mark. Susi and Mark have just finished a night out having gone to the movies and are get out from the movie showing at slightly after 7pm. Looking at a 20+ minute drive back to home having only eaten choc top ice-creams and pop-corn neither of them are willing to wait until they get home for dinner but neither of them want a big mac. Susi jumps on her smartphone and Googles local restaurants in the area. Here are what Susi finds in the first couple of results. ( How does your website do with SEO ?) Two websites, for local businesses. Restaurant sites. Both list there menus, opening times, and contact details including a reservation system on their sites. Restaurant A has a desktop optimised site that looks perfectly normal when viewed from a big screen. But doesn’t respond well on her Samsung S5. The content is too big for the screen, images are taking too long to load and the menu system isn’t working too well. Restaurant B has a responsive design for their site. This means the site responds to the devices screen size and serves both content and structure to suit that device. The site has a mobile menu, a minimal number of small sized images that quickly load over a mobile network, and any structure that would get in the way of the content on a small screen device has been removed. Which one do you think gets the business? While we are asking questions it might be a good time to stop and do a simple and quick self assessment of your website here. With the Nielsen Online Landscape Review – February 2015 showing that 62% of browser use comes from mobile devices the need for your business to be mobile ready, to have in a place a plan that grows your market share online into the future is essential to keep your business succeeding. Yes there is a lot of numbers in this article, business is like that. Constantly testing, observing, tweaking and re-testing to get your message and brand in front of potential customers is how it works. Data, information and planning around that collected data is just as important as having something to sell in the first place. I will leave you with one final question, an important one. Do you have a plan for your Business Online?
How a good business website can influence your customers.
Many small business owners have a hard time understanding how a website benefits their business. Especially in the short term.
While the owner of a small or medium business understands how it runs, how well it does from month to month and also understands the use of marketing their brand, most don’t understand the way a well built and designed website can have a positive impact on their bottom line. This is reflected by the 2012 abs.gov.au statistic that only 44.6% of businesses have an on-line presence of any kind.
Yes when you sit down with a website designer they tend to use a lot of three letter abbreviations, SEO, SEM and SLA. But probably the most important three letter abbreviation that is important to any business owner is ROI.
Return on Investment is important to your businesses bottom line. Websites and your business should be complementary. A website should reflect the brand, existing marketing and existing advertising you already do and provide your business with a potential new customer base. When looking at investing into your online image, whether that is a new website, updating an existing one, Social media marketing or Google adwords it is important that your business is able to quantify the results from the money spent.
That return can take many forms, from direct sales, to increased customer participation on your website or social media pages. Increased brand awareness from having a functioning, elegant website with content designed to boost your rankings in search engines can lead to higher top of mind awareness in potential customers which in turn leads to higher sales for your business over time.
In vying for the consumer dollar your competition will try to take every advantage to make sure they are the ones who customers think of when they go to purchase. And a business website can make all the difference – whose business website or Facebook page has the information on what’s in stock, which site can let a customer reserve an item for later pick up or better still which business website will let a customer find the item they are after, let them know if its in stock, let them order it, pay for it, and arrange delivery?
And a large percentage of customers research their purchases – over 75% of all Australians have access to the internet – especially purchases involving larger cash outlays, on the internet, through Google and through comparison of businesses websites, Facebook pages, or Google business pages?
This product research by customers often results directly in a purchase.
If your business isn’t on the web, doesn’t have a website, Facebook page or anything else asides from a directory listing who do you think will leave a greater impression? You or your competition?
And leaving you with one other thing to consider.
Did you know that a business is able to claim some of the costs associated with website and online marketing??
Look at this post from business.gov.au