Monday, November 15, 2010

8 Ways to Make Your Website do the Work

So you know you need a website, but maybe you're looking for ideas on how to USE your website effectively. Why get a website unless it helps you accomplish business goals, right? Here are some ideas on what your website can do for you.

1. Use your website for 24/7 sales opportunities

Whether it’s with PayPal or an online shopping cart, a website gives you the opportunity to sell your products and services at any time of day or night. It’s important to give your customers the option of purchasing something when they want. Make it as convenient as you can and provide options.

Note for non-profits:

Maybe you're not selling products, but you probably have donors, or events where people can purchase tickets, or some kind of service that you can sell online. It's very easy to accept online donations using PayPal. Read our blog about the benefits of using PayPal.

2. Use your website as a marketing tool

It is often said that a picture paints a thousand words. You can talk to your potential customers for hours, trying to convince them that you are a professional, top of the line company that can satisfy their needs…or you can let them see for themselves by looking at your website. If it’s properly crafted, a professional website will add loads of credibility to your business.

Be careful though. A homemade looking website can do just as much damage to your credibility as a fantastic website can add to it. You do not want to give your business an amateur feel. As tempting as it might be to have your 14 year old computer-tech nephew create a website for you on the cheap, it's usually not a good idea. Get a profesionally designed one, even if it's a very basic starter site for $400-$500. Related - 5 Easy Ways to Enhance Your Website

3. Post PDF files of your printable brochures or announcements

Save some money on printing by posting your brochures and other handouts on your website. You can still hand out some physical copies but many people would rather have the digital copy anyway.

4. Use your website is an informational tool

A website can save a lot of time and money by being the centerpiece of your marketing material. Make sure that any information that you would want to be made public is easily found on your website. Here are some ideas for general information you can post:
  • Contact information (email, phone, fax, etc)
  • Physical directions to your offices using Google Maps
  • Information on products and services
  • Prices
  • Calendar of events
  • Press room page with articles, press releases, or news features
5. Get referrals easier

Say one of your loyal customers recommends your services to a friend. If their friend is a little unsure, all he has to do is visit your website. If your website looks great, you have a new client.

6. Get feedback easier with an online form

It's a great idea to have a little online form on your contact page. This will let people contact you directly through the website. It looks professional, is easy to setup and manage, and will make life easier on your customers.

7. The search engines will bring potential customers to you 24/7

Through the search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, your potential for reaching new customers is huge. You don't necessarily have to be an expert in search engine optimization to get traffic through the search engines. If your website is simply coded correctly, with the correct keywords scattered throughout your content, you should get some traffic.

If you REALLY want to get the most you can out of the search engines, invest in an SEO (search engine optimization) expert. SEO experts know all the tricks on how to drive relevant traffic to your website. It can be a costly investment, but the payoff can be huge. Just make sure that you hire someone who you trust.

8. Your website can reach people who you never would reach otherwise

Think about the can actually sell to people who have never even heard of your company. Geographic location is no longer much of an issue. People who find you through Google or Yahoo would probably never find you any other way. Your potential just goes through the roof when you have a properly created website that draws traffic from multiple sources.

Having an effective website is like having another employee who works for you 24/7. It is a time and expense commitment up front, but once you have it created it becomes a long term investment.

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