How well does your website work for you?

SCORE SMALL BUSINESS COLUMN
Special to the Asheville Citizen-Times

While multiple social media tools are touted for reaching customers today, the website remains the centerpiece of every small business’s online marketing strategy. It is so important that your print ads, brochures, email promotions, e-newsletters and social media link to it — for more information, to contact you, to take advantage of a special offer or to read a full article or blog. And even more, it allows a business owner to track the success of each of these marketing campaigns.

Think about it — your website serves as the place where people find you through online searches, where you give people information on your business, where you draw them in to take action, where you point them to other social media and marketing vendors, and the place where you track what is working and what is not. So don’t ignore your website! Form a good relationship with your web designer and make things happen for your business!

An effective website has to be well-designed, informative, easy to navigate, trustworthy and grab someone’s attention quickly — all within 3-5 seconds. It needs to provide visitors with short calls-to-action on the homepage that draw them into the site or just give them what they are looking for — quickly and easily. Otherwise, they’ll simply surf over to another site.

Also, stay up-to-date. If any of your products, services, prices, location, hours, contact information or marketing messages change, be sure to make the updates immediately.

Make regular blog and article updates. This helps your website look “fresh” to visitors and helps to optimize your site with search engines. Then push those posts to your Facebook wall, Twitter account, or e-newsletter so you can pull your social networking audience back to your site. See the marketing cycle here?

Regularly review the site from a customer’s perspective or check in annually with your web developer to see if there are new technologies you could employ to make it easier on your web visitors, like getting a responsive (mobile-friendly) site.

Lastly, use your web analytics software to help you identify your web visitors — like what geographic locations they came from, what search terms and referral sites are used to find you, what device they are using, what percentage of people go through checkout or contacted you, and what pages they visited.

Analytics can even help measure the success or failure of your marketing campaigns by tracking what entrance pages were accessed for certain promotional deals you offer. This information can help you further tweak your marketing plans and website to the audience you seek. Google Analytics is one of the most popular of these software options and it is free and easy-touse.

Steffi Rausch is owner, web designer & web developer of Evolv LLC (evolv.com) and a frequent SCORE seminar presenter. To learn more about custom websites, ecommerce, and enewsletters for small business, contact ashevillescore.org. We’re a nonprofit organization providing free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners.

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