One of my favorite all time quotes is from the movie “The Matrix” when Morpheus sits down with Neo and says, “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”. This can be said of small business websites in 2011. You can stay with what you’re currently doing and pretend that your website will do just fine, or you can wake up and learn about 6 things in 2011 that will make your small business website out perform the competition.
Competition in the global and local online market in 2011 will be fierce, and the one’s with the best websites will come out ahead. Let’s face it, this time last year we didn’t have “Like” boxes, and we definitely didn’t have revolutions in Egypt and Libya because of Facebook and Twitter. It’s important that small business owners know what to have on their websites in order to maintain competition. Small business websites that have these six things in common will have the advantage throughout the year.
A Mobile Site Combined with QR Codes
Imagine this scenario: A potential customer walks past your flyer or poster at a super market and sees a QR code. They are curious, and pull out their smart phone to open up the QR code and visit your website which has been optimized for mobile phones. On your mobile website, is a link to your facebook, your products and services, and your contact information. Not only might this passerby “Like” your facebook page right then and there (because you are smart phone friendly), but you could actually make a sale. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, research company ABI recorded that “Americans spent more than $3.4 billion on mobile shopping in 2010” (entrepreneur.com). If that isn’t reason enough to want a website optimized for mobile phones, according to that same study, spending on mobile phones is expected to grow to $163 billion by 2015 (entrepreneur.com).
Social Media Widgets
Want to have a powerhouse of an online marketing strategy? Take my advice by integrating your Facebook account with all of your other social media accounts, then add a facebook feed box to your website. Visitors will be allowed to “Like” products and services on your website. Set up a Twitter account and visitors can also tweet about new products or services you come out with. New visitors to your website will receive all the updates you give your regular facebook fans. Fans from your facebook page will visit your website (when you give them a reason to). Couple that with automatic Twitter, and LinkedIn updates and you will have an online marketing strategy competitors will lose sleep over. This will drive huge amounts of traffic to your website.
Having social media also builds credibility for your small business. It shows new prospects and visitors to your website how pleased with your company other prospects have been in the past. Having 2,000 “Likes” on your Facebook page will definitely give you a competitive advantage over a competitor who doesn’t have as many “Likes”. With Facebook, you can also add quick discounts or deals to your fans, bringing in more traffic.
Have a Blog
Let’s delve into some of the reasons having a blog will benefit your small business website. First of all, a blog gives you a connection to your visitors. It tells them what they don’t know about your company already, gives them tips on how to use products or services you offer, and is a place to tell them about future deals, discounts, products, and services. You can also post links to your new blog posts onto your social media, giving you interesting content for your fans to read up on. Having a blog isn’t only going to give your business good public relations, it will also actually help with search engine optimization – as long as it’s done correctly, meaning using common sense and not trying to trick the search engines with black hat tactics.
Local Search / SEO
Should every business website be optimized for search engines? Yes! That is unless if new or existing customers aren’t welcomed to your website. Statistics from the most recent census in 2010 have said, “87% of adults online used a search engine daily to find information on the web” (census.gov). I once knew a guy who said he didn’t care if Google could find him or not, he wanted a flash based website because it looked cool. That’s fine, a flash based website can still be found in major search engines, it’s just a little more hard to have descriptive content that the search engines can read. But to say that you don’t care if search engines can find you or not is like saying you don’t care if you’re customers are able to give you a call, find your store front, or buy your products and services. All small business websites will benefit from search engine optimization on some level, and it should be among the top things to have done once a website is built.
Having a video on your website is an easy way for customers to learn about what the website has to offer. Having video is a more convenient way for customers to learn about products and services than it is for them to read about it. Customers like it so much in fact that according to MetaCafe, having a video on a website can retain the attention of visitors ten times longer than a website without video (metacafe.com). And WSI Superior Web Solutions report that “52% of online video ad viewers take action and 16% make purchases” (Marketing Sherpa). Having video on your website not only allows you to advertise on your website, but also on popular video sites like Youtube, MetaCafe, and 5min.com.
Having a Resourceful Web Master
Technology changes. Plain and simple. In fact, last year there wasn’t even one “Like” box on a website. Now every website has a “Like” box. Having a web master who can integrate code, knows how to select appropriate web hosting, a slew of programming languages and graphic design as well as able to create neat looking graphics, and perform successful SEO campaigns is essential for the small business website in 2011. Is there going to be some new outrageous technology that can triple your business this year? Who knows, but be prepared with a good web master if something like that should come up. A good web master knows what’s going on in the online world and can give some needed advice to those who aren’t as privy to the online world of commerce as they are.