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Why does your “small” town business need a BIG business website?

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic limiting access to goods and services at times, there has never been a more important time to invest in a website for your small business.

A website opens a range of online possibilities for small businesses, and benefits that go beyond the bricks and mortar of a physical store.

Even in a small rural community, like Ingham, where I live and work, it’s vitally important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and technology has made the world a much smaller place. Regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you online and if they can’t find your business, you can guarantee they’ll find your competitors instead.

If you need more convincing than that, here’s three clear-cut reasons why your “small” town business needs to get online.

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

Why would you settle for doing business with a limited audience when you could go global?

Websites level the playing field for the “little guys”.

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations, but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

  • An easy-to-use interface.
  • A clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks, or tips).
  • High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers using an effective Social Media strategy. With little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions separate from your business being involved and, if those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

  • Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.
  • Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.
  • A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).
  • Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

As stated, a properly built and effectively managed website allows a small-town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

Five Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer

Building a website for your small business should not be a spur of the moment decision.

And yet, as a website developer, I often meet new clients who have decided to build a website for their business but they haven’t yet considered how that site is going to improve their business.

Some still view a website as an online business card and, as I’ve covered in my blog posts before, a website can be so much more if it is planned and implemented correctly. The key to this effectiveness is carefully-considered planning – at every stage along the line.

Before picking up the phone or emailing a web designer for the first time, there are a few key questions that need your attention to ensure that the website development stages are quick and the final website is more effective when it is launched.

#1 What is the Key Objective of the Website?

Very simply, in as fewer words as possible (one sentence if possible), write down a measurable objective for your business website. This single sentence will guide everything else that happens along the way to development your site. The measurement is usually written as a percentage.

i.e. Increase the Monthly Sales of XYZ company by 20%

#2 Who is the target audience?

With point #1 clearly in mind, now look at what kind of site visitor is going to make that measurable objective possible.

Who will be looking for your products/services? Where are they? How old are they? What gender?

Be as specific as you can – this information will help your designer plan and style your site.

i.e. 18 to 60-year-old men interested in recreational fishing around the North QLD area.

#3 What kind of content will your audience be seeking at your site?

After identifying the audience that you want to attract to your site, grab a pencil and paper to map out the type of content that these potential customers will respond do. Will they want to read text blogs like this or would they respond better to video or imagery? Maybe a mixture would work best?

What kinds of information / products / services will they be seeking from you and, most importantly, what information do you want them to have about you and your business?

i.e. Information about the latest estuarine fishing equipment, videos on how it is used, fact sheets on where the fishing are biting….

#4 What are your competitors doing online?

Get this information in conjunction with point #1 – Get online and see what your competitors are doing with their websites. Google all relevant information regarding your target audience. Your top competitors will generally be at the head of the list – What kinds of content are they using? What appeals to you on their sites? What doesn’t?

Although your web developer should do this research as well, it will be highly beneficial to you as your website takes shape and you know what you are aiming for.

#5 What timeframe do you have to complete the site?

Armed with the knowledge that designers work better when given a timeframe (I know I do), when you want to launch your site to the world? Keep in mind, you must be able to “hold up” your end of the bargain and ensure that you can provide the content that the site requires for launch. Even the most experienced developer will baulk at a proposed launch date if they don’t have the content for the site.

Conclusion

By having the above planning completed/documented before contacting a designer, you will also be able to brief them clearly and then ascertain whether they can do the job at hand.

Don’t leave your small business’ website goals up to the designer. Remember that no-one knows your business better than you.

Have you got all the above planning done and are ready to go ahead and contact a designer?

Get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design on 0488 406 050 and we will work with you all the way (and even beyond) to a great, customer converting website for your small business.

The five key features that your small business website needs

Creating a small business website is a daunting task for anyone who has very little or no online experience.

Even the smallest bit of research will unleash a whole range of techno-jargon and online marketing advice from all angles – enough to make anyone’s head spin.

To avoid this overload of information, a new site should be treated like a V8 Supercar heading out to the track for the first time. It must be built on a solid framework but will be constantly tweaked throughout its life span into an efficient, customer-converting machine.

To provide this solid framework, there are five essential items that must be taken into consideration from day one:

#1 An Easy-to-Use Navigation Menu

The menu system of the site must be easy to find on the page, simple to understand and uncluttered in appearance. Refine the main options (those visible straight away) down to the bare necessities and “drop-down” menus should be used to display any extras that need to be accessed during a visitor’s time on the website.

#2 An “About Us” Page

It’s been found that today’s online consumer likes to “connect” with businesses before they purchase products or engage services.  A good “About Us” page should be jargon-free and clearly display who you are, where your business has evolved from and why it exists now. Once again, keep to the essentials but at the same time, don’t leave any important information out.

Be sure to also include a “Contact Us” page on the site with a contact form that sends directly to the site manager’s email.

#3 Helpful, free content

Another way to create a connection with your customers to provide helpful content that will improve the way they interact with your products and services. This can be achieved through a variety of ways including FAQ pages, videos, customer forums and downloadable PDFs. By adding high-quality free content to your site, visitors are more likely to return in the future to what else you have to offer them.

#4 Customer Testimonial Page

Whilst writing your own content will go a long way towards selling your products and services to site visitors, nothing works better than testimonials from your current customers.

Select a few satisfied clients that you have worked with and send them a friendly email requesting a short description of their experiences with your business. You may be surprised how quickly you will receive a response from them – most people love to reward good service.

#5 A Clear Call-To-Action

Everything above counts for nothing if you don’t provide a quick, easy to find Call-To-Action (CTA) somewhere prominent on your site. The CTA is the method by which a site visitor chooses to become a customer. For example, on a motel’s website, a “Make a Booking” button provides as the Call-To-Action. On an eCommerce site, you’ll find a shopping trolley icon marked “Checkout”.

The CTA may be different for each business but the rules for displaying them are the same – it must be eye-catching, clearly defined and be designed in such a way to encourage interaction.

Without a Call-To-Action, a website quickly becomes an online brochure.

Conclusion

There are loads of other elements that help make a successful website that converts visitors to customers. These five items will allow you to create a solid framework from which to build the remainder of your site.

In future blog posts, we will cover some of the extras that will add even further value to your site and help to build your business in both brand and bottom line.

For help getting your small business website off the ground, get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design. We’ve been working with small business since 2007.

Information Overload + High Bounce Rate = Poor Website Performance

In numerous blogs, books and forums, small business owners are told from the very beginnings of their online forays that content marketing is a must for a successful website.

Any solid marketing advice will say “You must create FAQs, blog posts, videos, podcasts, Facebook feeds, how-to sheets, free e-books, Tweets and Pins for your site to REALLY connect with your target audience.” This is good advice, after all, Google loves fresh content and so do those visitors who return to your site.

But there is inherent danger with all this information – having been told to create it, some website owners get carried away. And, unfortunately, your website visitors may not appreciate this content as much as you do – especially if it is displayed to them all at once.

By this, I mean displaying it all on the very first page of a website – known as the landing page.

In a recent blog post I mentioned Google Analytics which is an excellent tool for tracking and reporting on website traffic. One of the key statistics from Google Analytics is the “bounce rate*” for the site on which it is installed.  If your site overwhelms visitors with the information displayed on that first page, then you may find that your bounce rate is quite high.

The key to solving this problem is to always remember this simple point: your site visitors have arrived at your site seeking only one of two things, information, and engagement. Think back to any site that you have ever visited – you have sought out those sites out to either find out more about the business and their services/products or, engage them in further conversation (which can take many forms) and maybe make a purchase.

So how do we avoid information overload on key pages of your website?

Try to keep information in line with the five basics of a good home page:

  1. A catching headline that includes your keywords. If you are a plumber in Innisfail, use a title liked “Professional Plumbing Services – Ingham.” Keep Google happy by staying under its preferred title length which is 70 characters.
  2. A solid sub headline paragraph (or two) that briefly describes who you are and what you do. Visitors love a story so you could also talk about what you can do for them but don’t get use jargon, remember to apply the K.I.S.S. principle here.
  3. Display your immediate contact information in the top right-hand corner of the page. If you want people to ring you, show the phone number in a large font. If you prefer emails, show the email address. Remember to keep it all mobile friendly by ensuring that both can be clicked/tapped.
  4. Make your Call to Action noticeably clear. In most cases, this is what you prospective customers will be looking for so make it STAND OUT! Don’t make customers search for your latest deals or booking forms, make them so obvious that a blind person could find them.
  5. Everyone loves a good slideshow (that’s why every site these days has one). But don’t just use it to display pretty pictures – make it part of your marketing plan. Make it part of your HOOK* to immediately engage your visitors.

Get those things right on the front page and everything else is superfluous – put the extra information on other pages. Use your navigation effectively and your visitors can find it if they want to dig further.

With the advent of Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, there is the ability to create a multitude of cascading pages for your website so there is no excuse for not using this to your advantage.

Keep the front page of your small business site clean and simple using the five items above and monitor your Google Analytics. Done effectively, you will watch that bounce rate drop away as your prospective customers come and, most importantly, stay.

* the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

* a hook, which is a short phrase or jingle designed to entice a customer to purchase a product or sign up for a service.

Tropical Coast Web Design