It’s no secret that today’s small businesses live and die by their web presence.
Sure, platforms such as Facebook are a fantastic compliment to traditional websites; however, all businesses need a central hub where they can make their voices heard and take on new clients.
The purpose of your site should be to put your services at the fingertips of your target audience and stand apart from competitors in your space. Oftentimes, the blood, sweat and tears that go into any given SMB site don’t result in the ultimate goals of attracting and acquiring new customers.
You can spend endless hours via social media or traditional marketing to grow your site; however, if you’re not getting the attention of your prospects, there’s something wrong.
Here’s the not-so-secret problem that most SMBs face with their sites: they’re painfully boring.
Think about it. How can you expect to attract clients if your site is boring your traffic to tears? Likewise, if you’re not offering some sort of incentive or reason for visitors to stick around the page, why should they?
Making your site more engaging doesn’t mean a complete overhaul, but rather some simple tweaks to give your visitors that extra “push” to encourage them to contact you. Optimizing your site requires a client-centric approach: keep in mind that’s not all about “me, me, me.”
But where do you start?
Simplify Your Site Structure
Despite popular belief, the best small business sites are usually fairly simple.
Don’t make the classic mistake of throwing a bunch of content in the faces of your visitors. After all, nobody wants to be assaulted by a mess of pop-ups and in-your-face messages, nor do they want to have to sift through a ton of menus to find what they’re looking for.
When in doubt, think “less is more” in regard to your on-site content.
Your visitors will make a determination within seconds as to whether or not your business is what they’re looking for. By taking an economical approach to your content (think: no more than 200-400 words per page), you ensure that you don’t overwhelm your readers. Likewise, you should break up your content with sub-headers and images to make sure that it’s scrollable and easy on the eyes.
If you have an eye-popping logo or images of your business in action, use them to your advantage on your landing page. The more value you can prove at a glance and “above the fold,” the better.
Fewer Options, More Engagement
Strive to make your site as simple as possible. For example, you don’t need more than a few pages on-site to answer your visitors’ questions (think: an “About Me,” “Contact,” “Services” and “Blog” would do just fine for most SMBs). The fewer places your visitors have to wander, the more likely they are to stick around.
On the flip side, the more navigation options and links you have, the sooner you will lose your potential client. Kathryn Booth Trainor, owner and a web designer at SparkItNetwork.com, perhaps says it best:
“Decide what the next step you’d want a new client to take after they learn about your services and focus on that on your homepage. Only then, add additional pages and keep them to the minimum necessary for the potential client to learn more about your business. Don’t leave it to the client to choose between several menus and links as they are likely to leave on the most irrelevant page.”
Don’t Forget Your Mobile Visitors
You can’t afford to ignore the rise of mobile visitors. Optimizing your site for mobile doesn’t have to be rocket science; however, it may require some trial and error. Test your site on your own mobile devices to make sure that it’s up to snuff.
“Most new website tools ensure your site reads well on a mobile device or tablet. If you have an older website, make sure your contact info is clearly available, as that’s the most important piece of information that you want visible for your customer, “said Mickey Hayes, Owner of One World Computing Concepts.
Encourage Visitor Engagement
Sometimes if you want something it’s best to simply ask.
Every small business should have crystal clear calls-to-action sprinkled throughout their site. Whether that action is to click a link or contact you directly, you should always give your visitors something to do on each and every page.
However, don’t make the mistake of solely confining your contact information to your “Contact” page: every section of your site should have your contact info front and center.
Keep in mind that not every one of your visitors is warm to the idea of having a live phone conversation. Similarly, publishing your email on-site results in a steady stream of spam.
To combat this, you can use a contact form to encourage clients to provide their information. Since such forms are often cumbersome and result in less engagement the longer they are, try to structure your contact forms to be as brief as possible. Ideally, you can create a contact form that’s short enough to include on every page without interrupting the flow of your content.
Finally, don’t leave previous customers and returning visitors out in the cold. While every business is hungry for new clients, you should prioritize personalizing the on-site experience for your previous customers to remind them that they’re welcome. Some businesses offer a section for previous clients or a portal where returning visitors can review invoices, make payments, share documents or schedule appointment. By providing this experience, you ensure that your previous customers come back again and again.
Making your small business site more engaging requires some small tweaks in regard to design, navigation and content that can result in huge returns over time. Simply remember to give each and every visitor something to do through your calls-to-action and make sure that your content is short, sweet and to the point. Encouraging new business on-site means making your visitor’s experience straightforward and streamlined.
So, what do think is the most important element of any given small business site? Is there anything you think your site does particularly well? Let us know in the comments below!
**This article was written by Ran Oelgiesser, CMO of vCita, and was originally published in TechRadar.