How to Build an Effective Website for Your Small Business
[30 Minute Webinars]
Hello everybody this is Rich Brooks from Flyte New Media here for another 30 minute webinar by Flyte New Media. Today we’re going to be talking about websites, building an effective website for your small business. These webinars are all content, no fluff and if you’ve got questions, I want you to ask them. However, it’s hard for me to go back and forth between if anybody’s asking a question and doing the presentation, so as your questions come up please feel free to put them into the questions box and I will check them at the end. I’ve got about half an hours worth of content today, I will be sticking around afterwards to answer any questions you might have. You can ask them now, during the session, or afterwards.
As always, we use a framework here, something called the BARE essentials of digital marketing. The BARE essential is a four piece platform. The B is for build and this is really where we’re going to put our focus today. Build is all about creating a platform that turns our visitors into customers, and that is your website. The A is for attract and how do we drive that qualified traffic to our websites. The R is for retain, or how do we stay in touch with our customers after they’ve left our site. And the E is for evaluate, or how do we measure and analyze our results, how do we know what’s working.
Now in previous 30 minute webinars we’ve definitely looked at a lot of things about attraction, we’ve talked about SEO, we’ve talked about digital media and social advertising. We’ve also looked at some of the things under retain, as email marketing being the primary source. Then we’ve also done a couple back to back sessions on google analytics, which is all about evaluating what’s going on. So if you have any questions on those I definitely recommend you check out those recorded webinars as well. Just by attending one of our webinars you get access to all our other webinars as well.
So for those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m Rich Brooks and I am the president of Flyte New Media. We’re a web design and internet marketing company located in Portland, Maine. I’m also the founder of the Agents of Change, a weekly podcast and annual conference that’s all about how to reach your ideal customer through search, social, and mobile media marketing. We are again having our 7th annual Agents of Change Conference on Thursday September 20th and Friday September 21st, 2018. You can head over to the agentsofchange.com to get your tickets. We have four hundred tickets, we’ve already sold a hundred of them in just the first few weeks, so I certainly assume this is going to sell out, so you definitely want to get on those tickets now. If you can’t make it to Portland, Maine we do have a virtual pass where you can watch a live feed of the conference and watch every single session on demand after the conference is over. I’m also the Tech Guru on 207, which is an evening news program here on the NBC affiliates here in Portland, Maine. And last year I wrote a book called the Lead Machine: the small business guide to digital marketing, which kind of goes into a lot of the topics we talk about in these 30 minute webinars.
But let’s get to building a website that builds your business. Before we even start to build we have to consider quite a few things. The most important thing, and this is something I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses, we’ve built hundreds of websites over here at Flyte over the years, and one of the biggest problems clients have, businesses have when they come in is they want a website that’s all about them. And it makes sense except it’s completely wrong. Your website is not about you. Your website is about everyone who comes to your site. Everyone of your potential customers, that’s who the website needs to be about. You need to focus all your attention on the site on that person. So you need to be very clear on who your audience is. That means you need to understand what their job is, what their needs are, why they’re coming to the website, how old they are, how much money they have, how they like to spend their money, what drives them. The more you can be clear on your ideal customer, the better you’ll be. Years ago I interviewed John Lee Dumas developing a business avatar, and he talks very clearly about developing one single person he bases all of his business decisions on and I would recommend a similar approach. Be very clear about your audience or audiences visiting your site. Understand and be clear about what they want to accomplish at your website. Your website is not a simple brochure, they’re going to come there and they’ve got questions, they’ve got needs, there’s something that’s driving them to get to your website. Be very clear on what your goals are, and finally be very clear on how you can help. So when people are coming to your website, go through the process of getting in their shoes thinking what are the causes that are driving them to this website. Why are they here in the first place? Understand the questions they’re going to ask, understand their needs and then make sure you put everything on your website so that they can succeed.
There’s a number of things you need to consider when building your website. Like I said, we’re not going to look at it from an html standpoint, but whether you’re going to build your site yourself or whether you’re working with a digital agency to help you build you site, there’s a number of things that are just so critical that I need to mention them. The first thing is that your website absolutely needs to be mobile. More than half of the world’s internet traffic has been delivered on a mobile device since 2014. So it’s been 4 years now that there’s been more mobile internet traffic than desktop internet traffic. Here in the U.S. I wouldn’t say we’re a little behind the times, but we don’t necessarily have as much mobile traffic, just because we have a desktop or a laptop at home and at work so our desktop and laptop numbers are definitely higher. But every year I see more and more mobile traffic coming to our website, coming to our clients websites. Whether it’s 10, 20, 30, or 50% of your traffic on a mobile device you wouldn’t turn those people away from your storefront, so you want to make sure that your website is mobile friendly and usually responsive web design is the way to go.
You need to make sure that your website is fast. By fast I just mean that right now we have the attention span of a gnat, of a goldfish. So if your website isn’t loading very quickly, people will tune out. People will click the back button on the search, they’ll go back to the search engines and they’re going to start looking somewhere else. So you need to do everything you can to make it fast. That may mean stripping down some of the bloat on some of your pages, about cleaning up the code, about reducing the resolution of your images, whatever it is, putting it on a CDN, hosting it on a good host. This is often where people who are trying to save money on hosting get hurt. These are all things that are going to impact the usability of your website as well as your search engine visibility.
Your site needs to be nimble, it needs to be built on a content management system. Now my personal favorite is wordpress. It powers, last I heard, one third of the websites in the entire world. So it’s a pretty ubiquitous platform out there. That just means that if you happen to have a falling out with your web developer, or he or she goes out of business, or they get too big for you, or you get too big for them it’s all fine because your wordpress platform is independent of them and you can take it to another person. Whatever choice you make when it comes to your platform you definitely want to make it on a content management system so you can continually update and keep all that content fresh.
And lastly, it needs to be designed for results. Design is in the eye of the beholder but you need to create a website so it walks people down the funnel. Takes them on a path where they learn more, where they feel more comfortable doing business with you, where they provide some information about them, where they share some contact information with you, these are all critical pieces to your success.
Another thing you absolutely need to do is to build trust almost immediately when people come to your website. So how do you build trust? There’s a great book out there by Robert Cialdini called the Psychology Influences of Persuasion. He talks about the six weapons of influences. Ways that we have more influence over other people than they might expect. I’m not going to go into all of them, but there are a few here that really make a difference. One of them is authority. Now when we see an authority figure, maybe not in today’s day and age, but generally, we give them the benefit of the doubt. Authority comes in a lot of different sizes and shapes and if we see a police officer or a sheriff we might assume that they have a certain amount of authority and we give them respect. A lot of times this comes with badges, we can also borrow the authority of others by wearing badges. So how does this work on your website? Well here is a speaker that actually spoke at the Agents of Change last year, Jay Bear. As you can see on his speaker’s page that these companies like working with Jay. Now most of us have heard of most, if not all of these; Cisco, Prudential, United Nations IBM, south by southwest, the list goes on. If we’re coming to this website and we’re trying to vet whether or not we want to hire Jay for a particular project we can see that he’s worked with some of the biggest organizations and companies in the world. Those act like little badges. You might also have different kinds on your website from the better business bureau or perhaps a board certification. Whatever it is, but if there are badges there is some sort of authority that we can show that we’ve gone through some sort of certification that means something to our customers, then that definitely something that should go up on our websites.
There’s also something called social proof. We’re very social animals and very often we look to others to understand what our role, or what our response should be. If you see a bunch of people looking up, you’re going to look up because why would all those people be looking up? One way we can tap into this is with testimonials on our website. When we see people that perhaps remind us of ourselves on a website talking about what a great experience they had, and how good this company is, and maybe about how they were unsure about hiring this company but they’re so glad they did, those things, especially when coupled with photos or even video can have an incredible impact on our ability to overcome some of the risk aversion we might have and start to trust this company. So consider using different types of social proof in your website.
Another critical piece is appearance. We’d like to think people are going to look deeper than just skin-deep, but the bottom line is we’re all tuned in to appearance. There is a famous PR expert by the name of Michael Levine and he talks about the Tiffany box theory. The Tiffany box theory simply states that anything delivered in a Tiffany box has a higher perceived value than something in a plain paper box or no box whatsoever. So think about your own website; is it a Tiffany box, a plain box, or no box whatsoever? In the real world this could be the difference between are you using a custom design theme or a really nice theme or do you have something off the shelf that’s really out of date. Maybe there’s a bunch of social media icons that don’t lead anywhere or maybe there’s ones that aren’t popular or known with your audience. Maybe you have one of those awful facebook like boxes that are still hanging around out there, just things that make your site look tacky. The bottom line is that anybody on the internet could be a fly-by-night company so you want to do everything you can do to make it look like you’ve invested in your online presence. I bring up the is image right here from a company, you know this is an opinion thing, I think this is a nice photograph, very clean design, it makes me feels comfortable, maybe not you. Design is a little bit in the eyes of the beholder, but you definitely want to make sure that you’re using solid design and that you have a well defined appearance on you website.
Let’s talk a little bit about how to organize your website. One of the first things I recommend people do is review your competition. Now you definitely don’t want to be a me too type company by just stealing all your competitors ideas, but if a lot of your competitors are doing something similar, you’re going to want to decide if you want to avoid that, because you don’t want to be a me too company or that you absolutely need to include it because that’s what customers are expecting. We talked to a client who did a lot of home sales but refused to include the MLS listing so you couldn’t search his website for available homes. He wanted to be different from everybody else but in our opinion that didn’t make any sense because what’s the first thing you want to do when you get to a realtor’s website is check availability. You don’t want to call up somebody anymore and have them write a list for you, you want to do it yourself. So in that case it might’ve been a mistake. On another front we worked with a prosthodontist who when we looked at a lot of their competitors websites, one of the things we kept seeing in the primary navigation was a button that said, ‘what is a prosthodontist?’ That queued us in to the fact that perhaps a lot of their potential patients don’t know the difference between a dentist and a prosthodontist and maybe that’s why it’s such an important feature. So definitely spend a little time checking out your competition.
Obviously everyone’s going to have a home page, it’s the default page on your website. The trend these days is to have a nice big hero image like we saw on the previous page, fewer words on the home page. I used to say put a lot of words even on the home page because search engines care about this, but the search engines are looking for different queues these days and you can have a lot of other pages on your site that are more deeper with content. The way that I look at a home page these days is that it’s almost like a building lobby. Where you walk in, it’s beautiful, it takes your breath away, and there’s a very clear indication of the places you can go; perhaps the different floors or the different offices.
You’re definitely going to want to have products and services pages. I recommend that you have as many individual pages for as many products and services as you can get away with. Don’t have one page that lists all your products and services, a bullet, or even a really long page that clumps them all together. Google and search engines are looking for focus on your content and so are your users. So to have a drop down menus that lists all the different types of products and all the different kinds of services, or at least the categories depending on how deep your website is going to be good for your usability and for your search visibility.
I am a big fan of blogs. One of the things I like is a nice clean website, and a blog is almost like a messy drawer. In other words you can write content on almost any related subject to your business, put it in the blog, and it doesn’t mess up your home page, it doesn’t mess up the navigation. It just goes to a place where search engines and visitors can find that content. It helps keep the rest of your site organized. There’s also a lot of search engine benefits to blogging. We talked about that in the SEO webinar as well as the blogging webinar, and it’s a great place to build credibility and build trust with your partners.
Then there’s the about section and you can make this about yourself, but you can still make it about your customers and clients however. A lot of people make this the second most important page on their website, in fact some people treat their homepage like an about page. I recommend that when people show up on your home page they’re probably listening to the radio station WIIFM, (what’s in it for me). So the home page should talk more about your customers, your audience and your about page can talk more about you but still in regards to what your audience cares about. I also recommend that if you do have a team that you include pictures of your team and really personalize this page as well as the rest of your website.
Then a contact form. The contact page should absolutely have a contact form, not an email link. In fact, I tell everybody, don’t put email address’ on your website, it’s a great way to get spam sent to you. A contact form does a much better job of collecting information about your prospects. If you just ask them to click on an email link and send you an email, very often they won’t give you the information you need, they might not include a phone number, or any other pertinent information. With a form you can kind of lead them down the path and let them know what information you need so you can get back in touch with them and also include directions. If you’re a local business it’s really important for you to include your address on the contact page, in fact I might recommend that you put it on the footer of every single page of your website.
Where to Invest
So there’s a few places where people don’t invest as much time or money as they should in their website and I just want to mention three of them right here. The first one is copywriting. I strongly recommend that unless you are a copywriter, you hire this out. I’ve actually had some conversations with people lately that didn’t really understand what copywriting was. So these are just the words on your page, this is the content that you’re writing or that someone’s writing on your page, and the reason I strongly recommend hiring a copywriter is because although any of us can write, copywriters are skilled in writing persuasive copy that gets people to take action. Yes it’s an additional expense, but you can reuse this copy in a number of different places and depending on your industry, this copy could be good for five or ten years, so it certainly pays for itself. Not only that, it frees you up to go out there and do the rest of your business so you’re not taking so much time off from work. Writing 10 pages of copy can easily be a forty hour project, which is basically taking a week off from work. Is that really where you want to spend your time, or do you want to hire a professional who can write keyword rich, persuasive copy that ranks well in the search engines and gets clients to take action. It seems like a no-brainer to me.
Another place is photography. If you can, if you’ve got the budget for it, hire it out. A lot of times you can get somebody to come by your office and take pictures of you and your staff for as little as 500 dollars, depending on where you are in the country. A good photographer can come in and take all types of photos or go out on location. If you can’t or you don’t have the budget for it, you don’t have the budget for all your photos, you can use stock photography. We use it in different places on the website especially our blog where I’m not going to hire a professional photographer every single blogpost I have. Lately I’ve been a big fan of adobe stock, which used to be dollar photo club, then adobe bought it out, but it’s like 10 photos a month for thirty dollars. So it’s basically three bucks a photo, really high res photos and I find a lot of really unique looking images. So I definitely recommend checking that out if you’re into stock photography.
And the last one is hosting and a lot of people are looking for the cheapest hosting possible which is fine, until something goes wrong and something always goes wrong. I don’t recommend hosting companies I’m not even going to mention the two we use right now because that’s not my point, we’re not a hosting company we use other companies to do this. You definitely don’t want to be looking at something that’s 6, 7, or 10 dollars a month because something will go critically wrong and it’ll go wrong on the weekend. I usually tell people to budget anywhere between thirty and forty dollars a month for a regular website, maybe fifty dollars a month or more for ecommerce. Certain people need even more security or more backups than that but that’s usually a good place to budget.
I want to wrap up today with some conversion hacks. Some things that are going to get you more visitors and turn them into leads and customers.
One thing is this idea of simplicity. A lot of website owners want to continually add new things to their website. They want all these flashing lights, and bells, and whistles, and scroll bars and all this sort of stuff. Some of the most effective websites out there, in fact, when I ask people what are the websites you like, the two answers I almost invariably get are apple and google. Two of the simplest websites out there. Simplicity sells. Alright it’s an overwhelming world and people have a very short attention span. This is our friends over at orbit media studios and you get to their website, no bells and whistles, no moving anything it just says Chicago web design & development team focused on results. Then you can scroll down and see some examples of their work. Another thing to keep in mind is you can increase or decrease your conversion rate based on where people are looking on your website. So this is a website from Wix and they’ve got a homepage here “It all starts with your stunning website”, as you can see there’s one man there and he’s staring out and like all human beings we first look at his face and then we look into where he’s looking. He’s looking at a ‘start now’ button, really the number one thing they want you to do on this website. The only thing I might recommend here is if they had that ‘start now’ button pop a little bit more than they do.
Which brings me to choosing an action color. I strongly recommend that you have a color that’s for every link and every button, as much as you can get away with on your website and only use that color for those things. So here you see the homepage for constant contact. First of all it’s a simple website, secondly you could argue that the guy in the photo is actually looking down at the orange button down there, and the third thing is that they’ve got these orange buttons and this is really the only warm colors on the page, everything else is nice cool so they kind of pop and it’s the one thing they want you to do, sign up free or sign up free today.
Another critical thing is limiting people’s choices at your website. I see this so often companies making this mistake. I mean I know amazon’s got a million products and staples and best buy, but you’re probably not amazon or staples or best buy. You’re you and you really want to simplify your website because people aren’t as familiar with your brand as they are with those other three. There was a famous study years ago in one of these fancy grocery store and they brought out six flavors of jam in one of those free tasting stands and people came over and tried the jam and some of them picked up jars and bought the jam. Later they switched it out and put out twenty four flavors of jam and it was a much bigger display and many more people tried the jam and interestingly enough, they sold less jam. It’s the paradox of choice, when we’re given too many choices, we chose not to chose. So if you give people too many choices, too many links, too many moving images, too many options on any of your pages but especially your home page they’re just going to go back. How do we do this? There’s a number of ways we can limit some choices on our website. This was a screengrab from 37 signals that creates some software that we use and you get to this website and you can see there’s three choices; premium, plus, and basic. So of course you look at plus first, it’s their most popular plan. Now it’s probably their most popular plan because it’s center, it’s bigger, and they’re telling us it’s their most popular plan. I could decide that I’m a small group and go for basic, or I could say I’m a power user and go for premium, but still they’ve told me what the best choice is for me most likely. This is really important because if they had just laid out all three equally, it’s very likely that people like me would look and be like, i’m not sure what I’m going to go for so I think I’m going to come back later and think about it, except, we never come back. This is something that was popular in the book Nudge, which I recommend you guys check out, but it’s also just a way of basically giving people the best possible plan and getting them to take action.
Some other tricks, or things to keep in mind for increasing conversions is on your website, make sure your phone is not hidden. It shouldn’t be at the bottom of your contact page. It should be at the top right corner of every page on your website. As I mentioned before, use a contact form not just an email link. A well performing contact form, like the one we have on our websites will ask people for their name, their phone number, their email address, in fact they’ll require those three things. Then they’ll also capture things like perhaps company name, street address, when you’re thinking of making a buying decision, how you heard of us, or any other information you think is pertinent, just don’t over do it. Once that person fills out the contact form they are taken to a thank you page or maybe there’s an upsell, or more information. We’ve also asked them to join our mailing list and then that information is automatically entered into our database so that they are no mistakes and it doesn’t take anybody any time to add that content in. Then an email is sent out to all the pertinent people on the team so then somebody can get back to that person quickly. Now isn’t that a lot more powerful than just having an email link?
You should definitely have an email opt-in. One of my favorite digital marketing tools is email marketing so you should be asking all over the place to join your email list. If you’re interested in learning more I definitely recommend you check out the email marketing 30 minute webinar we did. Every small business, every entrepreneur, and every marketer would do better by spending more time building their email list.
Finally, have calls to action! Have a call to action at the bottom of every page, possibly multiple places within a page. A call to action is simply asking for the business, asking them to take the most logical step. Too often I’ve gone to a website and I’ve read something I found interesting and I get to the bottom of the page and that’s the bottom of the page. There’s really no discussion of what I should do next. So what I recommend doing is at the bottom of every single page tell them! Tell the person what they should do next. You may think it’s obvious but they may not. They’ve spent 99.99% of their time on the internet not on your website. So tell them to click on that lick to figure out their mortgage on your calculator, or click on the link for a free consult, or click on a link for a certain download, whatever it is you think is the next logical step on the path to them taking care of whatever their problem was that you can help them with.
So I hope that’s been helpful, again if you’re looking to generate more leads online you want to use the BARE essentials to digital marketing; build, attract. Retain, and evaluate. And that’s the content that we have for today. So I’m going to check and see if anybody had any questions for today. So if anybody is looking to access the previously recorded webinars, we have sent out emails that we sent to our email list, when I send out the email recap for this presentation I’ll include a link to that section of the website so you can get into there.
Matt has a question: contact form location, on the main page, product page?
I certainly think you want to have it on the contact page because contact I think should always be a primary navigation item. As far as product page or homepage it just depends on what you’re looking to do. Sometimes asking for information on the home page can seem a little aggressive but it just depends on what your product or service is. We’ve definitely seem it work on product pages as well. A lot of times you can just build it automatically like if you’re using a content management system like wordpress you can build it into your pages so it will automatically appear at the bottom of every page of your website. I have seen conversion rates go up when you have some sort of contact form at the bottom of every page. You can actually change them up so you know when the person’s email comes in or their form comes in which page they actually filled out that form on. We were doing that when we had a brand new website on one of our clients websites that were selling conveyor belts and conveyor belt parts that putting a contact form at the bottom of each page or an inquiry form really increased conversion rates.
Same question for the email subscribe button. I put an email subscribe button at the footer on every page of our website and I always recommend to our clients that they do the same. But I also don’t stop there, I have sometimes in the middle of a blog what’s called a value ad. Let’s say you’re reading a blogpost on 10 things to keep in mind when building a website. Then I might have something about like here’s your website checklist that you can download and to download it it’s an email registration, which gets them on our email list. Also in our contact form we ask them if they want to sign up for our email list. Sometimes we’ll do pop-ups like many of you may have seen when you visited our website. Again these are multiple ways of getting people to opt-in to you email newsletter. On our blog homepage we have a request to join our mailing list and on every single page on our blog in the right hand column we have the same.
Gale S: What is the maximum number of service pages a website should have?
I don’t think there is a maximum number, I think it should be the exact number of services you have. An example is if you’re a psychologist and maybe you do couples’ therapy, and you do child psychology, and you also do teenagers, and you see groups, that’s at least four different pages that you want to have where you kind of talk about those sort of things and you go into detail what you do and practice. Although there’s no magic number on how long a page should be, I will say that most search engine experts say that you need at least three to five hundred words on a page to even be picked up, for the search engines not to be what’s called thin content so I would definitely try to add as much. In general search engines and people are looking for a lot of quality content that’s deep, so the more time and energy you can spend on these pages, the better off you’re going to be.
Q: Does your call to action need to be direct? We’re using “jump in” because our business is called splash. Is that misleading?
That’s a great question. I would probably say that I would do an A/B split test on that. I do like the idea of jump in, I’d want to make sure it looks like a button or a link so there’s no question about it, but I might do some tests. Either an official A/B split test where randomly two different button names are shown. You can do that through a couple different platforms and then you just measure to see after a while which one has a higher click through rate and if they’re the same that’s great it doesn’t matter. If one is the obvious winner then you want to go with that one, so that definitely could be it. Or you could have something since ‘jump in’ is a little bit of a branding call then maybe you have a longer button that says, ‘jump in! Join our mailing list now’, or something to that effect.
I see a few thank you’s in here as well, you’re welcome. It does look like we have come to the end of the questions. I’ll say that this has been great for me, I hope it’s been helpful for you. Please when I send out the email in the next 24-48 hours with the recording and link and everything else let me know if there’s any content or sessions you’d like to see us do, I’m always looking for new ideas of things that are going to serve you. Thanks very much for your time today, have a great day.
If you’d like someone to help fine-tuning your own Website or need help developing a digital marketing strategy, please let us know.