Thanks for joining our presentation today. Let’s start by looking at a few common reasons businesses DON’T have an effective website. -I can’t afford it or don’t have the time -I pay a person to do this for me -I get all my business from networking & referrals – so I don’t need it -I have too many customers as it is! -I’m already very active on social media -I just don’t know where to start -I’ve tried marketing and it doesn’t work for my business -I already have a website and it’s not that old Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Before we go through what makes a website effective, we need to look at the big picture and determine what we want to accomplish. Your website is a tool. So, consider how this tool fits into the bigger picture of attracting and retaining customers. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. What problem is your customer trying to solve? Most customers begin with a Google search. Building trust with potential customers begins when they discover your company in their search results. They see your review ratings, and your physical location –– before they ever get to your site. To begin this strategic trust-building process, you need to appear in their Google search. Once someone clicks on your website, you have 7 seconds to convince them that they are in the right place and to look no further. It’s a crucial step in building trust with your company and brand. In that brief time, they have to confirm that you can solve their problem AND eliminate reasons why they should NOT trust you. That’s a lot to convey in just 7 seconds but it’s a pivotal step. What do you say here? without reading from this slide? Both Matt and I have been in business for years – both working for corporations and as business owners. We have found that building trust between our brand & our clients is key to winning and building good lasting relationships. Since 2016, Cultivate has provided advising, educational training, resources, and referrals to hundreds of small businesses. It doesn’t matter if you are brick & mortar, virtual/work from home, or out in the field with customers – your website is the best opportunity to reach your audience AND to help establish trust. Since we know that a healthy website is a vital tool in trust-building, how can you make your website more effective?
10 ESSENTIALS That Every Site Needs
Here are 10 Essentials that will build credibility with your website and your brand.
Local Address & Phone Number
The first essential is having a local address and phone number on your site. This may have a greater impact than you realize. First of all, it shows that you are a legitimate business and not a scam. This is often a huge problem with small businesses especially if you work from home or in the field. Secondly, Google may not even verify your business location in a search unless you have the address on your site. If you don’t have a professional business address, let’s discuss how you could add a mailbox, office, or meeting room. Another point to consider is that many of our rural members have 20 times the sales opportunity in Columbus because of the customer density. For example, if you are in Bucyrus, you may benefit from adding a Columbus sales office with a Columbus address. And it’s easier and less expensive than you may think.
Social Media Links
Social Media is another tool that helps you communicate with your audience. If you include social media links on your website, you need to actively post and manage these sites. You don’t want to disappoint your customers. Instead, you need to use this tool to build trust with your customers.
Lead Capture & SSL
You need to create a way to engage with your customers on your site. In other words – you have NO opportunity to develop a relationship unless the customer engages with you. One way to do this is to include a form on your website. Once you’ve captured this lead, you need to respond professionally and promptly to engage with this person – this can be with a return email or phone call. Be sure to retrieve, then answer your messages in the same way – promptly and professionally to continue to build trust in your company and brand. Another method of building trust is to include a security certificate on your site. That’s the little lock in your browser window. Be sure to check that your IT person has done this on your website.
Responsive Mobile Friendly
The 4th essential is having a responsive mobile-friendly website. More than half of your website visitors will view your site using a mobile device. So you want to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly and that it loads quickly. If it isn’t a responsive site, Google will penalize your search results. And your site is going to be frustrating to the customer that is trying to use it.
Core Message/UVP – What Do You Offer, Why Buy From You?
Core Messaging or your Unique Value Proposition. In the initial 7 seconds, your audience needs to understand what you offer and why buy it from you. That is your value proposition. You need to convince them that they are in the right place and that you provide what they need. Your website content is important but the visuals & design elements help to quickly communicate your message.
Call to Action
What is your Call to Action? On your home page, your first step to engage with your customer is a Call to Action. You are asking them to do something and that moves your relationship with the customer forward in the trust-building process. Be sure that your call to action is clear and easily understood. If you need help developing an effective UVP and Call To Action, you can check our website for these training videos.
Tell Your Story: About, Services, How to Buy
The 7th essential is all about your story. Your “business” story needs to establish trust in you, your product, and your brand. You need to tell your story. When creating content for your website, you can use the basic 5 Ws – who, what, when, where, and why. This can be your guideline as you describe your product, services, and background if that info adds credibility to your brand.
Professional Graphics With Use Rights, Optimized For The Web
Use professional graphics. Stock images may be ok for certain uses but professional photos of you, your team, and your products will do much more to establish trust in your company! With many small businesses – YOU are what we are selling! It’s your knowledge, experience, and the opportunity for customers to connect to YOU! Also, you can’t just pull images off the web. The quality and professionalism of your graphics really help to establish credibility and trust in your business as you build this relationship with your customer. It sets the stage for who and what you are. It’s always best to be authentic.
Social Proof – Display & Get Reviews
Reviews are a type of referral. They show that you have built some trust with a customer and they want to share that interaction with others. Positive reviews give people a reason TO trust you. These reviews are your Social Proof and this bolsters customers’ confidence and trust in your brand. But the only way you will systematically get reviews is to include a process for requesting them on your website. When Cultivate builds a website for a business, we include a plug-in that very effectively requests and then highlights your positive reviews.
Google Analytics, Search Console & Facebook Pixel
And lastly, as business owners, you need to gather all the business intelligence that you can. Intel like – What problems do customers want to solve when they arrive at your website? What keywords are they using to search for a solution? Where are your customers coming from? Are your marketing efforts working? Take advantage of the free information by adding these 3 tracking services to your website – Google Analytics, Search Console & Facebook Pixel.
Things That You Need Related To Your Site
The next recommendations aren’t on your website, per se, but are part of building trust and an effective online presence.
Domain That You Own and Control
Your Domain. You want to use a meaningful, short domain without punctuation – ideally, a “ .com” Don’t use punctuation like dashes or abbreviations. Your domain doesn’t have to be your business name – like our URL for example. “Cultivate.org” was not available but “Cultivateworks.org” was available. OR it would be more advantageous to use a domain name like ColumbusHousePainting rather than BobsPainting since there would be hundreds of businesses around the country with that common name. Also, you need to purchase and control your domain. Don’t have your web developer buy this for you. You, personally, want to have the access to your domain, website, and email.
Email At Your Domain
Your email address. You need to pay the extra for email at your domain so you look professional and legit. For example, my email address is email@example.com NOT firstname.lastname@example.org Typically this will cost about $5/mo per email address. You should look at this as the cost of doing business and not an opportunity to save money. Also, aliases and forwards are usually free add-ons (for example sales@, and info@).
Calendars/Booking For Resources and Team
We recommend that any business that uses appointments should have a booking tool on their website. The plug-in we prefer integrates with your personal Google calendar and allows people to directly schedule with you.
Google My Business & Apple Maps
Two free tools you can add to your website are Google Maps & Apple Maps. This is how people find you. Google My Business is also very helpful. Customers can leave reviews but there is so much more than you can do with it to build your brand awareness like postings, events, and business information. You will need to add your business manually to Apple Maps (for iPhone users) unless you are already on Yelp.
Email marketing is an affordable way to grow and communicate with your audience. Sending out more emails is not better. You don’t want to inundate your audience and become annoying. You can use a platform like Mailchimp that has spam compliance so your audience can opt in or opt out.
The actual content on your website is very important to Google. Google’s promise to its’ users is that they will show the best, most relevant content in their search results. This means that you need to create content that is unique and meaningful to your business. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that once their website is launched, they are done with it. But that isn’t true. You need to continually add content to your website – once a week is best. This frequency proves to Google that your website is up-to-date and relevant.
Popular DIY Platforms And Why To Consider Based On Your Type Of Business
You can build a very simple DIY site in 4-10 hours and there are No Setup Costs. Larger sites with more features and complex platforms require a learning curve that will take considerably longer. We have found that CONTENT CREATION is most often the slowest, hardest part for most entrepreneurs to do. (On average, it takes 2-5 hrs/page). These are some popular website platforms. And some have specific features developed for different types of businesses that can be very helpful.
- Google sites are very simple, free, and are a part of Google My Business. Your domain is an extra charge.
- Square: great for a business with local pickup-like food. This platform includes eCommerce and POS
- Logify: connects all your rental platforms like vrbo, Airbnb, and manages bookings
- Shopify: is completely hosted and has an infinitely scalable eCommerce platform with integrations to marketplace sites.
- Zenfolio: is just one platform that was developed for photographers with booking calendars and photo sales.
- Thinkific & Teachable: these are learning management platforms that have been developed for course creators to sell their content/courses.
You can build a good site with almost any platform. Your website is just the beginning of your trust-building process. You need to continue building trust so your customers keep purchasing your product or service, send you referrals, and submit healthy positive reviews. Cultivate offers memberships to help small businesses and entrepreneurs develop and grow this trust-building process. With our Plus membership, we will develop a 1-page WordPress site for you that includes the 10 essentials that will support a simple sales process. We handle the “tech” part of the development and will train you to do basic edits. You can also upgrade to our Pro membership as your business grows and you need more than a single page to tell your story well. There are no set-up costs. If you want us to write your content, you can opt to use our Fast Track plan. So, what is your next step? I want to encourage you to take our online Discovery Assessment at cultivateworks.org/discovery. This will take you about 10 mins to do. Once completed, we will introduce you to providers if you need any (like bookkeepers, small bus. lawyers, graphic designers, etc). You will also have free access to all of our online educational courses and business resources. In addition, our team will process and evaluate your existing web presence and then meet with you to discuss strengths and opportunities – some of this evaluation will be based on the 10 essentials that we just discussed. If needed, we will also make technical vendor suggestions or membership plans that you may find beneficial. We hope you can apply these 10 essentials to increase the effectiveness of your website. And please, reach out to discuss any questions you may have. We look forward to meeting you and discussing the growth plan for your business.