A business website is your face in the virtual world. Considering the empowerment that your business can gain from web marketing and the real dollar sales you can realize through the web, your business website becomes a vital cog in your business machinery. A study conducted on the information search behavior of customers by Forrester Research revealed that 7 out of 10 users look for the company website first, before falling back on other means of information. That clearly captures how important your business website is.
Invariably, as a businessman who is not versed with the intricacies of website development and website marketing, you will quickly swim through 3 painfully commonplace experiences – firstly, underestimating the time and resource requirements of website building, secondly, realizing the need to invest time and effort into the creation of the website, and thirdly, noting that despite your sincere efforts, the website seems to fall short of its intended communication goals. The reason – you might have missed out on one or more of these business website essentials –
Mobile optimization – the road towards present relevance and future readiness
It’s time to realize and acknowledge that mobile browsing is as important (if not more) as desktop based web browsing. Users are now expecting to be served the perfect web browsing experience when they open a website in their smartphone’s browser. So, go for a responsive web design upfront, or change your website’s template if you’re stuck with an old static design. You can ill-afford serving a chaotic, slow loading, and half baked mobile browsing experience for users logging in to your website. Apart from making your website relevant 24×7 (as users are dependent on mobile browsers to access content on the move), a responsive design also has a massive bearing on your future email marketing efforts. Most users access emails on mobiles, and if you want them to click on a link that takes them to your website, you better ensure that it is mobile optimized.
Contact Forms – the user’s most preferred communication medium
Although the functionality of contact forms on a business website is more than obvious, it can be somewhat surprising to note that only 1 out of 3 small and medium sized business’ websites have a functional contact form, as per findings of an extensive analyses conducted by research firm BIA/Kelsey. Considering how a contact form helps you organize customer queries rather than battling it out on a real time basis, it’s a must have for business websites belonging to service providers such as graphic designers, SEO consultants, freelance writers, etc. Also, your contact form doubles up as a lead capture tool, as you can slowly build a database of web users who can be targeted for marketing campaigns. On the other side, for the website users, contact forms provide a convenient method of raising queries, sharing complaints and suggestions, and in general contacting the website managers and owners. Don’t leave out any communication channels, not in the least when they’re as functionally relevant as a contact form!
Search Engine Optimization – the pre-requisite for business success on the web
Not exactly something that a visitor to your website will be able to ‘see’ and appreciate, but SEO is the undercurrent that makes your website flow to the reader. So, when you get your business a website, don’t leave the SEO stone unturned, as that could come back to haunt you. If necessary, hire an SEO expert to help you with the identification of the best and most relevant keywords, creating content based on the keywords and SEO best practices, and managing all on-page and off-page SEO activities to make your website feature in the top few search queries made for the target keywords. Leave SEO for experts; it’s too important to be ignored or done imperfectly.
Trust building digital artifacts – gold-dust for newly launched websites
Even if you have a sophisticated user experience built into your web design, expect web users to be skeptical about letting your website do anything more than displaying text and visual information. Building trust and credibility is integral for pulling of anything important and substantial through your website, such as a sale, or a consultation request. Especially for newly launched websites, having some trust inspiring elements in place is indispensable for making users take your website seriously. Here are some helpful hints –
- Seals of security – Renowned web agencies do paid audits of your website and provide seals of safety that can be showcased on the website, this staking claim to users’ trust.
- Press releases – Try to invest time in PR marketing, and include snapshots of newspaper coverage, links to live PRs, videos of conferences, and anything that clearly and quickly establishes the fact that your business is a recognized and credible setup.
- Customer testimonials – Budget some space on your landing page for a couple of customer testimonials, followed by thumbnail image of the customer. Offer goodies, free consultation, discounted prices, etc. for a few customers in return of permission to include their testimonials and positive reviews on the website.
The other significant success factors – sign up forms, contact pages, search boxes, and more
Without delving too deeply into the functional relevance of these elements, let’s wrap the discussion up with a roundup of other essential elements of a good business website. Include them, and be the proud owner of a smart, contemporary, and result oriented website. Ignore them, and prepare for never ending waits for the big boom that you expect from your website.
- Sign up forms – Data is worth its weight in gold; either link sign up with some content incentive, or offer a simple name + email ID sign up on the landing page.
- Contact page – A business website without visibly obvious contact information instigates distrust in the user’s mind, so guard yourself well with a proper contact us page.
- Social connections – Integral to making your social media marketing campaigns successful, important contact channels, and proof of your social relevance – these buttons are indispensable.
- Search box – Especially for content heavy websites, a search box is vital to avoid bounce rates because of users failing to find what they want!