Getting Customers Online Through Websites (3 Phases)
The goal of every website really, should be to reach potential customers. And the dream is to be able to convert them from visitors to prospects and ultimately, to a customer.
There are 3 phases every website should go through which I covered in a short presentation I did for a group of business owners and entrepreneurs here in Singapore.
It’s been a long while since I did a presentation (the last time I did it was about 3 years ago).
What’s more, I had a time limit, so I had to fly through the topics in double quick time (there’s a *ding* somewhere during the presentation, that signified I was down to my last 2 minutes).
If you’d rather watch then read, feel free to watch the 14 minute video above of my presentation.
But if reading is your thing, well… read on cause I’m going to be adding a bit more information which I could not cover during my presentation.
Getting Customers Online Through Your Website
It may be pretty common knowledge these days that you need a website if you’re running a business but out of the existing millions of websites today, there’s another million companies and ventures that choose not have a website.
They just don’t see the necessity of owning one – that’s a mistake.
Every small business needs to be aggressive in its marketing today in order to survive. You probably know the statistic that most small businesses don’t survive past the 5 year mark – and one of the contributing reasons is that they don’t work hard enough on their marketing.
The skill of attracting more customers.
The potential of a website can no longer be ignored today.
Bankaholic.com, TechCrunch.com, Mint.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Business.com – these are all websites that have sold for millions and millions of dollars.
Bankaholic was started by Johns Wu to provide credit card information for consumers. He made money through his website with affiliate links. He did so well that his website was eventually bought over. I don’t think he’ll actually make $15 million through his website through the affiliate links but I’m pretty sure he’s not complaining from such a sale!
Mint provides a service for people to manage their money through their online platform and in just 2 years, sold it for $170 million dollars. Man… if you worked on a website and even made just $1 million in 2 years, I would think that’s a pretty successful return on investment.
But what do these websites have to do with you – oh, small business owner and entrepreneur?
I’m glad you asked.
What we should do is to analyse what these sites are already doing & apply them to your own websites.
Content Management Systems
There are hundreds of Content Management System (CMS) options to choose from – from free to paid ones. For most starting businesses, free is the best price.
There’s nothing wrong with going with a free CMS, what matters is… (1) Ease of use for yourself (2) How your audience sees your website
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chariman of Alphabet Inc (better known as Google), says there is too much content on the internet these days.
Users are now relying on BRANDS to get their source of information. That means as a small business, you can start using information to attract and retain customers.
Continuous User Growth
While you have a CMS and you’ve got good content, you need to continuously grow your site with more users.
Keep giving them reasons to come back, continuously communicate with them.
3 Phases of a Customer Getting Website
For SMEs & entrepreneurs, there are basically 3 phases of creating a website. I won’t be going into market research and validation of your business as that’s another post for another time. To help you remember, think of it as planning for a party.
- You have to get ready for your party.
- You have to invite people for your party.
- Since you’re running a business, the party actually doesn’t end!
Phase #1: Getting Ready for the Party
Content Management Systems
As mentioned already, you really need to have a CMS to manage your website. Even if you’re very comfortable with coding a website from scratch, using a CMS will seriously make things a whole lot easier for you.
I used to code websites from scratch and ever since I moved onto using CMS, it just makes things a whole lot easier. Honestly, as long as someone is willing to learn, creating a website from scratch using a CMS is very, very doable.
Design – white space (clean), professional, mobile-friendly (responsive), intuitive, basic UX
Reading on screen (as you are doing now) and reading on print are totally different experiences.
On paper, you can have huge chunks of text and people don’t mind. Do that on a screen and it scares people off. Even the font type matters – serif, sans serif and script.
You need to have a lot of white space (meaning… a lot of short paragraphs) so your visitors “last longer” as their eyes don’t have to do so much work.
Of course, you’ll need good copywriting as well together with sufficient white space.
The growth of mobile devices will only keep going – coupled with data plans and more mobile devices such as tablets, your website NEEDS to be mobile-friendly. Or what we call as “responsive”.
Responsive simply means your website will change it’s layout based on the window size. If you are reading my website now, try resizing the window. You’ll notice parts of the website changing layout automatically.
This makes it easier for your customers to consume your content no matter what device they are using.
Intuitive, basic UX
UX stands for User Experience. There are a few things people are already accustomed to seeing on the internet. If you see a block of text and one of the lines is underlined and in blue, you think it’s a link. So don’t go making all your text blue and underlined, it’ll confuse your visitor.
There’s a whole industry dedicated to UX, I won’t go into those. As long as your website does not break some of the more basic rules of user experience, you should be good.
Content – speak to an audience of One
I talk about this a lot for my clients when I help them set up their websites – always write your content so it’s speaking to one person.
Many websites, in wanting to make themselves sound important, use big fluffy words like “Our company strives to serve our customers in the most cost-effective way”.
Small businesses should not do that, especially if you’re a very small team. Yes, you want to grow big… but while you’re still growing, be authentic!
Change all those big fluffy words and write as if you are speaking to one person.
Some little tricks you can apply on your writing…
Do a search and change all instances of “our”, “us”, “we” to “you”, “yours”
Force your writing to make it all about your reader’s interest, it’ll benefit you greatly.
Delete “that” – yes, remove all usages of the word and then see if you can rewrite your content without using “that”.
You’ll find your writing packing more punch!
Most good writing is really good EDITING.
After you’ve written your first draft, come back after a day or two with fresh new eyes to improve your writing.
Big message up front – inverse pyramid
Get to the point. Most people have very short attention spans these days.
Your visitors are demanding higher quality information more quickly. So don’t take too long to warm them up, hit them with what you want to cover.
Tell them exactly what and how they’ll benefit after reading your content straight in the beginning – and once they’ve decided to stick around, you can then tell them what you promised to tell them.
Avoid writing comedy, humour, “smart”
Most comedy is funny because of the way it’s delivered – through a combination of words, tonality, timing and possibly body language.
In terms of a small business website, avoid writing content in an attempt to sound funny or smart – you’ll run the high risk of either being NOT funny or your readers don’t understand what you’ve just written in an attempt to sound smart.
Contact information & Social media links
There is a growing trend of customers and prospects who expect you to be easily contactable or reachable through social media. If you want more business, don’t be shy about being the main contact person.
Wow, this one is a biggie. I won’t be able to do justice to this topic in this post by mentioning it. However, this is something every small business must have. The ability to contact prospects and customers at will!
Be sure to subscribe to me so you’ll get notified of new posts about this seriously important topic which every business must have.
Analytical data capture software (analytics, heat mapping)
Having software to track what your visitors are doing on your website is crucial. Your visitors and customer behaviour will tell you exactly what your website should focus on.
For example, a client of mine has his website front talking about all his franchises but I knew from the beginning that his visitors are not interested in his franchise business, but rather, his menu for his restaurant. The data I get from analytics proves me right.
Heat-mapping will tell you which part of your website your visitors are clicking on and spending time on. Analytics can’t tell you that accurately as it will usually only tell you how long on a page – but not which section of your page.
This technology will also show you where your visitor’s mouse is moving (a lot of people still use their mouse to help guide their eyes) and where they are clicking on. If you find a bunch of clicks on a non-clickable picture – it means your users expect something from that area.
Phase #2: It’s Not A Party Without People!
Contact existing customers & ask for feedback
If you’ve been running your business for some time and you haven’t been able to contact your customers, this is the perfect time to contact them.
You’d be surprised how open they are to help your business.
While it’s true that nowadays we’ve got certain limitations in Singapore for contacting people, I really believe it’s the way you structure your pitch.
Content marketing strategy
Become the brand or expert your customers want to hear from. Create some content your target market wants and start feeding it to them.
Even if you’ve created a great piece of content, you actually need to do a lot of work to sell that free content. It’s no longer “build it and they will come”, you’ll need to go get some eyeballs.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
What every business wants is to rank on top of the search engines for their desired keywords. What I like to tell businesses is that SEO is a long term strategy.
You’ll want to have SEO in your plans but while that’s happening, use other ways to generate more traffic to your website and offers.
Think of SEO as a stream – lots of little streams add up and combine to become a river of traffic.
Similar to the earlier point of contacting existing customers, your business should already be starting to collect leads. Typically, you want to start offering something for your leads to buy early on.
The idea of warming up your prospects with a whole bunch of information and then hoping they’ll buy from you isn’t a good strategy. Nor is the idea of only sending promotions after promotions.
You’re conditioning your audience to expect only free information. You’ve got to mix it up with free, paid, freemium, etc.
If you are not in social media, you’re not getting in front of people. Staying in touch with the latest technologies will help your business become relevant as people adapt different technology to stay in touch with each other.
Once you’re on a social media platform, start building a presence there and stay in touch.
Many businesses tend to go onto every social media platform available and use software to blast out updates to every single place. That’s OK, actually. But if people are talking to you, please make the effort to talk back.
If you don’t have the time to do it yourself or you’re not a little crazy like Gary Vaynerchuck, it’s better to find a professional and outsource this.
Paid media is one of the most scalable methods – money talks. And paying to extend your reach is one of the oldest ways to get discovered.
If you’re on a tight budget, the best strategy you’ve got is to start investing in up to date courses on various paid media. Get yourself equipped with the right knowledge before you start going into paid advertising.
Start paying attention to the ads you’re seeing over and over again, keep screen shots and screen captures of it so you can refer to them for ideas.
Phase #3: It's Not Time To Relax Just Yet
Periodic backup, security
After you’ve set up your website, you’ll definitely want to secure it as much as you can. However, the ultimate fall-back is still a complete website backup.
How often you do this depends on how often you update your website – if you update your site regularly, then you should backup regularly.
Thank Your Visitors
This might require the ability to use remarketing technology but if you make the effort to update your visitors on the status of your offer, even if they’ve only visited but have not taken up the offer, it enhances the experience your prospects have with you.
Create More Content
To keep your online presence strong, you need to create more content. There may come a time when you re-visit previous content but at the start, you’ll want to plan for even more content.
Ask your visitors what do they want to hear from you next. Or do some research into trends. There’s always a chance to create something for your visitors.
This simply means testing different ways of saying the same thing… and finding out which one your customers respond better to.
For example, “Get Youthful Skin” vs “Babysmooth Skin”… which of these will work better for a skin product? Split-testing can give you some clues.
Responding to Feedback
While it may be a pain to deal with, responding to feedback and fixing problems are actually a great way to help you improve.
Your visitors and customers are telling you what they want – so listen up. And if they are constantly asking for something which you aren’t currently offering, then you know you’ve got a new project to work on.
Interact on Social Media
Way too many businesses make this mistake – they think they need to be on every social media platform so they start joining all the platforms they can. They then start pushing all their updates using those accounts.
What they don’t know is they are making themselves look very spammy. Why? Because they’ve not taken the time to communicate. Each social media platform has their own “rules of conduct”.
No matter how good your marketing is, chances are – a huge majority of people just will not buy now. Don’t fret. Keep marketing to these people in different angles.
It might just be a situation of wrong timing. Keep at it long enough and you might get some good results.
After you’ve served your current batch of customers, there will always be more opportunities for you to serve your target market.
You can either continue to build a stronger relationship with your existing customers or start a campaign to create new customers.
Create Something Sellable
We are living in an information age – and people are willing to pay for information. This is a great way to leverage your knowledge since you are the subject matter expert in your business.
Again, pay attention to what your target audience is saying and create something based on their feedback.
Don’t attempt to create a huge product without asking your market – otherwise, you might be disappointed when they don’t respond.