In order to generate new customers from your small business' website prospective buyers must read your website. To do this you need three things to occur.
One: Buyers Need To Find Your Website
Online - The majority of your traffic online will come from organic searches in search engines, so I will focus on this for this article even though there are other ways people can find your website online. I will leave commenting on the other methods for another article. In order to have people find your website via organic search your website needs to be indexed and rank well for your keywords. Being indexed means that search engines like Google and Bing have found your website and included it in their list of websites. What I mean by ranking well for your keywords is that when prospective buyers do an internet search on items you sell, you come up on the first page and preferably have multiple listings on the first page. So if you sell trophies and someone types in "trophies" in an internet search, your website comes up multiple times on page one of the results. If you are not indexed you should submit your website and site map to Google and Bing. This should get your website indexed. If your website is not ranking well for the keywords you want you should do is have someone do some Search Engine Optimization for you.
Offline - People can find your website offline via business cards, advertising etc. But in order for people to find your website when they are not connected to the internet your URL needs to be posted on these items in a way that is easy to read and remember. If your URL its self is not easy to remember and read I would seriously consider buying a new URL.
Two: Buyers Need To Go To Your Website
Online - If your website is indexed and ranks well, the next thing you need to be concerned with is getting people to your website. How you do this is by having them pick to click on your link of all of the links displayed in the search results. To do this you need to have a compelling page title and meta description. These are the two components that people will read on the search results before clicking. The page title is the text that is listed in the link in the search result. The search engine pull this text from what is also listed at the top of the internet browser when you go to the specified page. This text is determined by the HTML code of the webpage using the HTML title tag. The meta description is also an HTML tag in the page code that is a description of what content is on the page. Google will use all or a portion of this text as a description of your page and display it under the link in the search results. Given these two elements are the only things web searchers will see about your page when looking at search results you need to make them attention getting and intriguing. So be sure to write interesting, accurate and compelling page titles and meta description tags for your web pages.
Offline - Again people need to remember your URL if you are going to drive traffic to your website from offline sources. When people type in your URL they will have to remember it correctly or they will not go to your site. An idea to improve the chances of people remembering your URL from offline interactions is to give prospective customers items they can keep with your URL on it (ie business cards, fridge magnets, flyers, pamphlets etc). This way they can refer to an item that has your URL when they go to type it into their internet browser.
Three: Buyers Need To Read Your Website
Finally once you get prospective buyers to your site you need to make sure they stay their and read the content there. The first factor in doing this is to reduce your bounce rate or the % of people that immediately leave your site without reading other pages. According to one survey I found of 80 companies, the average bounce rate is around 41% for most businesses. This means that 41% of viewers to a website don't read any other page then the one they first go to.... if they even read that page at all. Or in other words if you have a 41% bounce rate 41 out of a 100 visitors to your website leave without reading more then one page. Think about how many more customers you would get from your website if you could get an extra 10 out of every 100 to read more then just the first page they go to. If you have a bounce rate higher then 41% on your home page or any other major landing page then there is probably opportunity to improve it and increase the number of customers generated from your website. To reduce your bounce rate you will need to look at your navigation system, the content on your landing page and the design of your landing page. When looking at your navigation system you will need to make sure it is easy to understand and use so visitors can find the content they are looking for. If they can't find it easily they will bounce. The content on your landing page needs to be easy to read as well, eye catching and intriguing. If there are no images or text present that they are interested in...again they will bounce. And finally the design of the landing page needs to look inviting and professional. If the design is poor, disorganized and looks unprofessional the visitor will be more likely to bounce. Reducing your bounce rate is just the first step to generating more new customers from your website. The rest of the steps I will have to save for another blog article. But I really believe reducing your bounce rate is the key. To read more about bounce rates check out this article from Web Analysis.
If you don't have a website yet a great low cost option is 99Designs. They have a very unique business model. If I had not designed my own website I would have used them. It is great because it is low cost and how it works is multiple designers will submit concepts to you and you get to pick the best one. If you know exactly what you want Elance can also be a low cost option. Elance is also great if you want to make some minor revisions to you site (like to reduce your bounce rate). Using Elance will be significantly cheaper then getting your agency to do it, if you have an agency.
I help various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener, Ontario, Canada generate new customers. If you are interested in keeping up to date on issues related to generating new customers for B2B small businesses subscribe by email to this blog.
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