How to make your website work for you 

Stefano Maruzzi presents some tips on how your website can help with the day-to-day running of your business.

Time is something that small business owners don’t have much of. If your business has just started up, chances are you’ll be doing marketing, finance, sales, HR as well as making the tea. If you’ve followed this series of articles, your business should be up and running online. So what’s the next step? Time to get your time back.

In truth, your website has the capability to do a lot of the day-to-day running of the business that you may currently be bogged down with. The world is online, and looking for ways to interact with your business.

Give the people what they want

It’s an obvious point, but it’s important to remember that the more information there is on your company’s website, the less time you will have to spend answering questions. A quick exercise that will help you tailor your content is to think of a query about your business that frequently arises.

Start at your website’s homepage and pretend you’ve never visited it before. Now work your way through, and see if you’re able to answer that query yourself. If so, did it take long? If the information wasn’t there, what can you create that will help visitors with a similar issue?

Even offering a page with downloadable brochures instead of physical copies will cut printing costs; a nice saving that can make a huge difference to a smaller operation. This works particularly well for things such as product pricing lists, and more detailed information about what you offer. It will also allow happy customers to easily share information about your products or services, an added bonus which has the potential to positively influence your sales.

Restaurants are a great example of businesses giving people what they want by embracing the online space to do some of the work for them. Many offer a way for diners to book a table on their websites. This is not only useful to the smartphone-wielding customer, but to the restaurant employees who don’t have to spend their shifts taking bookings by phone.

Good form

It’s a good first step. Enquiry forms on any website are a good way of automating communication between customer and the business. The beauty of an online enquiry form is that you can structure the way customers put their query to you. Adding specific fields cause the customer to go into more detail, meaning you can get to the crux of the issue quicker.

For example, the way Apple and some other major providers deals with customer issues is brilliantly efficient, asking the user enough questions to narrow down what is wrong and allowing the customer service agent to offer an answer that is more likely to solve the problem. Time is saved, teams are optimised and the agent is able to solve more queries, creating happier customers.

Apple is probably slightly larger than your business, but the method still applies. Once a quarter, go through the inquiries you receive and segment them. What are the most common questions asked? You can later add these FAQs to your website and ensure customers are getting their questions answered.

Where are you?

If your business has a physical store or office, it’s always worth including a map for customers to find you easily. Embedding Google Maps is the simplest way to do this. Go to the Google Maps page and follow the steps below:

1. Select the address you want to link to and add a location map to your website.

2. Choose type of map: satellite, hybrid or terrain. Look closely which one best suits your needs.

3. Specify width and height to make it suitable for your website.

4. Once you are done with these settings, click on ‘Generate my code’ underneath the Google Maps tool. Additionally, you can select the complete code by clicking ‘Copy to Clipboard – Click Here’.

5. Finally, paste the HTML code in the source code of your website.

Again, this saves you and your staff time as it decreases the amount of calls or emails requesting your location.

Online shopping

If you sell physical products that don’t require a quote, there’s the opportunity to provide online ordering. The amount spent on shopping online grows year on year, with many small businesses opting to save on rent and be a strictly online-only outfit.

This is particularly useful to a business that doesn’t have a large operating space but is growing quickly and needs to cater for more customers, and an influx of orders; especially handy during intense sales periods such as Black Friday and the lead-up to Christmas.

Calls to action

Finally, when creating all your business website’s content, you should keep asking ‘what do I want the visitor to do with this information?’ Providing information on its own is irrelevant if it doesn’t create sales opportunities for your business, so be ruthless when deciding on how you’ll be positioning it. For example, embed the map with the caption ‘come and visit us’ and you’re providing context to the user. The map is there because you want them to visit.

Making your website do the grunt work for you is crucial if you want to have the time to grow your business. And sometimes we just need time to take a breather, sit back and think. Great business decisions can be made when heads are clear.

Find the time to take a step back by creating a website that supports your business.

Also see: Three important website tips for your business

Consumers impatient with bad websites

Four out of five online shoppers give up on buying products online due to poor website performance. This so-called web rage, which has numerous causes, leads to them switching off their computers, or worse still, going to buy from a competitor.

This phenomenon, dubbed ‘web rage’ by web testing specialist SciVisum which conducted the survey, can be caused by the inability to ask questions by phone (cited by 54 per cent of respondents), crashes during the transaction process (47 per cent), over-complicated registration processes (47 per cent), inability to find information (46 per cent) and being unable to amend orders (45 per cent).

There appears to be a distinct absence of customer loyalty when it comes to ecommerce websites, with less than half giving even their favourite website more than a second chance, before moving to a competitor, or taking the old-fashioned route down to the high street.

With 78 per cent of Brits shopping online and spending an average of £89 a month, those trading through their websites could be missing out on significant revenue by not focusing on optimising their website performance.

‘Web rage is a burgeoning online phenomenon,’ says Deri Jones, CEO, SciVisum. ‘With less than half of online shoppers prepared to give their favourite website more than two chances to get it right, the message to etailers is very clear. Online shoppers are showing zero tolerance to poor performance – and etailers must follow this lead if they’re to avoid losing their customers to competitors or the high street.’

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Computer & IT Business

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