The internet and all things related to it are evolving constantly, at a pace that is sometimes dizzying and usually impossible to keep up with. This can present a challenge to marketers and professionals who want to capitalize on ways Internet marketing services can generate traffic, leads, conversions, and profits. Instead of continuing to spread yourself too thin and weaken your marketing position and potential online, perhaps you should step back and evaluate the power of your existing online presence.
Specifically, how informative and effective is your business website? It is, after all, your company’s home on the internet, and is often the source of your audience’s first impression of you and your business, before they ever make initial contact with you or enter your sales funnel. More than half of a consumer’s buying decision is already made before they make first contact with a company, and part of that decision comes from your online presence, including your business website, and the impact it makes on visitors.
Here are five must-have components for a business website to make it more user-friendly, engaging, informative, and valuable to your visitors, along with details on why you should include each component as part of your own site.
The importance of mobile-friendly design for websites, landing pages, and other online content cannot be emphasized enough in today’s on-the-go world. More users than ever before are accessing internet-based information with mobile devices from tablets to smart watches, so you have to have a website that can be viewed properly no matter what device is being used to view it. Responsive design has made it possible for internet content to be displayed properly regardless of the type of device used to access it, because this type of web design is programmed to adapt to different display types and sizes.
In addition to making your content more usable for your users, mobile-friendly design also makes it more appealing to search engines. This can help your content achieve better rankings simply by being designed for mobile access, navigation, and use. For example, Google adds a statement in search results that tells a searcher whether a link is mobile-friendly or not, and the search engine’s algorithms will up-rank or down-rank content based partially on that factor alone. Search engines have also shifted to demonstrate a preference for mobile-friendly content, listing that content higher than identical web pages that are not designed for mobile-first usage.
Clearly visible and easily accessible contact information for your company is considered by some, consumers and business professionals alike, to be the single most important part of your website. The most captivating graphics, compelling text, and can’t-live-without-it product will not be enough to keep some customers engaged and in your sales funnel if they cannot easily find a way to get in touch with you when they want or need to do so. While this is true for all businesses, it is even more so for those who rely on physical patronage at a brick-and-mortar location for some of their customer traffic.
Company websites without valid contact information often give the impression of a here today, gone tomorrow enterprise, which causes many potential consumers to avoid establishing a B2C relationship out of fear that when they need something from the company, it won’t be around to provide it. Your website should have a dedicated page for contact information that is easy to access from anywhere else within the site, such as a “contact us” navigation option on each page. The information you should provide should include:
- Company name or D/B/A name if your business is operating under a registered alias
- Physical address (for companies with a location that can be visited in person)
- Telephone number that will be answered by a live person (or a number through which a caller can leave a message that will be returned within a specific, and short, period of time)
- Email address that is checked, and responded to, on a regular basis
Make sure you have an email address that is associated with your domain, rather than one provided by a free email hosting service like Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or others. Some free email providers give you the option to use your domain-associated email address with the provider’s interface, or you can use the email interface offered by your domain hosting service (i.e., GoDaddy). You want your email address to point to ‘email@example.com’ rather than ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ because it gives a greater appearance of investment in your site and visitors, longevity, and more authority and credibility.
If possible, your contact page should also provide names of employees to whom consumers can directly reach out with specific questions, comments, or concerns (by phone or email). This may include a sales manager, claim specialist, operations director, human resources supervisor, or other frequently contacted staff members. No matter what information you do provide, or how much detail you include to enable people to contact you, it is vital that you give people some way to do so.
Details About What You Do
When saying that your business website should have details about what your company does, this does not mean a product or service list, a menu, or a fancy mission statement filled with buzzwords and meaningless but pretty prose that conveys little real information. The components, like a product list, menu, list of services, and a well-written mission statement, are important, but they really don’t tell someone anything about your company.
Whenever possible, you should include an “About” page that gives a company background, with a short history of the company from inception. If you have long-term employees or executives who have made significant contributions to the company, showcase them on a page about your staff. Include milestones and benchmarks the company has reached, or noteworthy accomplishments, and provide customer testimonials, photos of your products in action, or reviews about what you are offering. Give readers some buzz about your business to get them more interested, and give them a reason to select you as the source for what they are seeking. Mere service lists and product descriptions do not always accomplish that.
Well-Organized and Easy-to-Use Navigation Options
Some companies try to impress site visitors with fancy navigation buttons, panels, windows, or other features, or they use clever catchphrases to indicate navigation choices. You don’t want to make getting around your website difficult for your user, so avoid the fancy tricks and phrases and stick to options that the average user can see, read, and understand. One of the best ways to create navigational choices for your website is to put yourself in the shoes of your site visitor. What are they looking for, or what options would they want to select when visiting your site? Another way to do so is by providing navigation options based on what you want the visitor to do. Do you want them to shop? Sign up for something? Become a member? Contact you? Make the navigation section easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to use – for even the least savvy of your potential visitors.
Social Sharing Options
Aside from having a business website, you should also have a company page on a variety of social media networks. Part of your content management plan should include regular posts to those social networks, so you can remain engaged with your audience and extended community. Social media gives you an excellent opportunity to strengthen B2C relationships, and it also gives you the ability to connect all the aspects of your online presence to each other. When you add a post to your blog, link to your website or social media page. If you send an email newsletter, make sure you include links to your blog and relevant landing page. Firing off a quick post on social media? Don’t forget to include a link to your website or blog.
Social sharing is a vital component of cross-channel marketing and should not be neglected when designing your business website. Provide visitors with links to your social media pages, and make sure you monitor your social presence and stay actively engaged with your audience. This helps establish authority in your industry, enforce your credibility, and demonstrate your investment in not only your bottom line but also your fans and followers.
You can have a visually stunning and incredibly well-designed website that won’t do your company a bit of good if you are not delivering what your visitors want from you. The five components provided here are things that people want and expect to see when they explore a company’s website, and these components can help attract traffic, keep visitors engaged, and put you a step ahead of your competition. When you design your website and other online content and utilize effective online marketing services with your audience’s wants and needs in mind, rather than your own, you are giving your company a huge step-up in terms of being effective and successful in attracting visitors, leads, and customers.
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