2009 is upon us, and while most of us are making personal resolutions that we’ll never keep (there’s simply too much chocolate kicking about from the kid’s selection boxes), owners of business websites should really be making a few of their own that WILL make a difference to the success of their site this year.
We therefore present to you, our Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for your Business Website, a few of which you may already have signed up to personally!
Kick those Bad Habits
While your site probably doesn’t smoke or drink, it most likely will have a few bad habits that you’ll want to address this year. Like the spelling mistakes you know are in there, or those 2MB images you uploaded straight from the digital camera that you always meant to go back and reduce, or the “honest, it’s not spamming” approach you still take to mass-mailing potential new contacts instead of ensuring only a 100% clean “opt-in” list. Running a website on a day to day basis is bound to result in a few cut corners and quick-fixes, but left alone, such bad-habits can seriously impact your site, or worse – your company’s reputation. Cut them out now!
Get out of Debt
OK – so you may not actually be in debt, but in these unstable economic times it’s vital that your website focuses on making your business PROFIT, not just generating turnover or page-views. With that in mind, take a look at all the products and services you offer on the site. Identify which aren’t actually generating profit, and get rid of them. Focus your efforts on selling the services that generate the most profit and even start to look at existing services currently given away for free, and turn them into revenue generating assets. Even if you don’t actually sell anything – does your website generate enough page views that you could make profit from external advertising? The internet is full of sites offering “free stuff” – your business website does not need to be one of them!
If you haven’t already got a company Blog up and running, then start one. If you already have a blog, then blog more. Blogs are a great way for you to (informally) communicate to your audience on a regular basis, and the more you post, the more successful the blog will be. Think of it as your “unofficial company news”, with posts on anything and everything related to your company and industry. What’s more, a regularly updated blog will help you get a better listing in Google and other Search Engines.
With the exception of your new Blog, consider reducing the text and content on your website to only say what it actually needs to. The quicker you can make your point to a website visitor, the more likely they’ll go on to make a sale, or complete the contact form etc. Remember that the majority of your visitors do NOT read every single word on the page – they scan it to get a quick overview, before deciding whether to take further action. Make it easy for them, and say only what you need to.
Don’t Break the Law
Make New Friends
The more people who know about your site the better, so make a point of making new friends on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or any other social networking platform of your choice. The chances are many of your existing business contacts, colleagues and co-workers are already signed up, so you’ll be able to build up a “friends list” in no time at all.
Get out More
Not directly related to your company website itself, rather general good business advice. Network!! Don’t rely on twitter to grow your social and business circles, get out there and actually meet people. Face to face really helps your business (especially any online business) promote a “real” presence beyond the website. People like to do business with other People, and so getting in front of these potential customers is vital to grow sales as well as company image. Don’t be frightened of “Networking” and view it as a crucial part of your marketing strategy for 2009 (you often get free wine and cakes too – just don’t break the first resolution!!).
Could your site do with a slight make-over or a complete face-lift? The overall design of your site is probably the key factor in forming a new visitor’s first impression, and it’s got just 50 milliseconds to do it. No pressure then. Now’s the time to appraise your site (or better yet – get some 3rd party “testers” to do it for you) from not only a design point of view, but also usability, as the two go hand in hand. You may have launched your site a decade ago, but does it still look 10 years old? What about clear, consistent navigation – is it easy to move around and quickly arrive at your “profit” pages? Web design has come a long way in a short space of time, and web users are quick to understand what’s hot, and what’s not. If you’re in need of some facial reconstruction to improve your visitor’s perceptions of you then get it done sooner rather than later.
Be Excellent to one another!
As a wise man called Bill S Preston once declared to the masses – “be excellent to one another”. Not just for the purposes of making the world a better place, but because it actually makes solid business sense. Excellence in customer service and support is what will stand a company out from it’s competitors over the next few years – as economical troubles mean that customers look for good, reliable and trustworthy companies to do business with – ie: ensuring that their money is well spent. Nowhere is this more true than the internet – with customer support emails and phone calls all expected to be dealt with instantly. Provide an excellent customer service and offer true value – and your business should endure the rocky road ahead.
We hope that you enjoy our Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for your business website, but more importantly, we hope that you’ll actually employ even just one of the resolutions and improve your site in 2009. For your benefit (and amusement) we’ve created a nicely formatted PDF that you can download and pin to your wall summarising all 10, and of course if you’d like any further help or advice on improving your website, we welcome your communication. We promise to be excellent in our response.