I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar last Thursday on “Using Your Website as your Top Sales Person” in collaboration with Jeanne Rossomme from Roadmap Marketing as part of the SCORE small business advisory program. A great session with a lot of small businesses who had questions on overhauling their online presence. Some even sent in their websites for an ad-hoc “Extreme Makeover” session – maybe an interesting idea for an ongoing series!
Here are some highlights from that session – how to activate your “Top Sales Person” in four stages:
- Keep it short, easy to remember and type – spelling should not be ambiguous – as we pointed out to an attendee, DrGardnerHealthyKids.com when verbalized may be misinterpreted as DoctorGardnerHealthyKids.com
- Get creative – use keywords if your business name is not available – BloomsExpress.com or BloomsReston.com if BettysBlooms.com is not available
- Consider alternative domain extensions – a COM domain should be your first choice, but remember that there are good alternatives – .CO, .BIZ, .NET, .ME
- Get multiple domains – consider getting other variations of your domain name also – a relatively low investment for the value it provides
2. Interaction – Think through the information and value you want to provide to (and get from) your visitors
- Profile of your business/your services – who you are, what you do, services and pricing, your credentials, seals and badges etc
- Lead collection – ensure there’s information for them to contact you, or a lead-form to fill out
- Content/downloads – think of ways to provide downloadable content that your visitors might want – newsletters, tips and tricks, forms, work samples etc
- Foster a community – use forums to allow customers to post questions or otherwise interact with you or other visitors, help them connect with each other over your products, services
3. Aesthetics – now it’s time to consider ways to make your site more appealing and a pleasure to visit
- Organize information into multiple pages/tabs – use between 3 to 6 pages for content including “About Us”, “Contact”, “Products & Services”, “Testimonials” etc
- Be judicious in using text, and make it easily readable – use bullets to highlight points instead of long paragraphs, don’t use more than two font-sizes and colors
- Focus your content on the purpose of your site – ensure that whatever info you present is tailored to the kind of visitor you expect – is it educational? Is it a sales pitch?
- Use pleasing colors and layout – Stick to a light background with high-contrast colors, use a multi-column layout with 2-3 columns so text and images are lined up properly
- Your website is your marketing hub - be sure to reference your domain in all your marketing
- But also go wherever your customers are – create a facebook page, register on Angie’s List, Google Places etc
- Go broad, get found everywhere – sign up for “visibility” or “local directory” services that will get you included in all the places where visitors search for businesses
- Use E-Mail to keep them coming back – use inexpensive/free email marketing services to send newsletters, weekly articles and other reminders to your customers to keep your business fresh in their minds. But don’t spam, always ensure there’s some content of value to them in your email.