As a small business owner, you need a website. Whether your business is a hyperlocal enterprise selling to people that live on the same block or a business that ships goods all over the world, without a website your customers will be unable to find you. A website represents the business’s digital presence, a hub that forms the focus of online marketing, information, and communication.
All of which is common knowledge, but knowing that you need a site isn’t the same as being able to create a site that actually works to benefit your business. I’ve seen all-too-many small business sites that fail to fulfill their intended purpose—they do nothing to convert a potential lead into a buyer. In fact, the worst small business sites do exactly the opposite: they actively repel potential customers.
A Lack of Clear Objectives
I like to think of a small business website as a machine for making conversions. Getting a potential buyer to the site is the first step; what remains is to lead them from the page they landed on to a completed purchase.
It doesn’t matter whether your site exists solely so that customers can find your address, or if it’s an eCommerce store—every aspect of the site should be designed to fulfill a goal. And it should fulfill it while communicating the values and branding of your business.
Think about how your site could contribute to your overall goals, and the part it should be playing in moving customers towards fulfilling that goal for your business.
Not Investing in Content
Content is the lifeblood of business web sites. It’s content that has the power to draw visitors to your site. But too many business sites gets this wrong. Content is not sales copy, and nor is it an endless stream of tedious news about your company. Content must be focused on the interests and needs of potential buyers.
If you don’t have someone within your company who can create great content, consider paying for the time of a content marketing professional or freelance writer.
Choosing the Wrong Content Management System
The content management system you choose will set the stage for what you can do with your website. Most modern content management systems are capable of supporting most types of sites, but not all are well-designed from the user’s—as opposed to the developer’s—perspective.
WordPress balances developer and user-friendly features well. If your business is just starting, a simple WordPress site with a premium theme is all you need. And when you want to create something more original, there are plenty of highly skilled WordPress developers and designers ready to help.
But, most importantly, a WordPress site makes it easy for you, as a business owner, to publish and edit content.
Going Cheap on Hosting
There are plenty of cheap hosting providers, but the problem with cheap is that you get what you pay for. There’s no real need for a new business to invest in a dedicated server, or even a virtual private server. Shared hosting is more than up to the task, but only if you choose a managed shared hosting provider capable of offering a platform optimized for your CMS.
Skimping on hosting costs may seem like a good idea, but the site will be slow, it won’t offer a great user experience, and when something goes wrong, your $5 a month doesn’t buy much in the way of support.
Your small business needs a website, but if you’re going to invest time and money to build a web presence, make sure it’s effective, conforms to your branding, and offers users a great experience.
Author: Matthew Davis works as an inbound marketer and blogger for Future Hosting, a leading provider of VPS hosting. Follow Future Hosting on Twitter at @fhsales, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog, https://www.futurehosting.com/blog.