By Omri Allouche
When stressed for resources in both time and money, many small business owners are asking themselves whether they should invest in building a website. The answer is a resounding yes. According to a GE Capital Retail Bank study, 81 percent of consumers go online before heading out to the store. A business looking to attract customers must have an attractive website waiting for them on the web.
But what is an attractive website? First and foremost, it is a website that speaks about what is special and unique in your business. Include these six essential elements in your small business website to express your personality and inspire confidence with potential buyers:
Contact Information. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many websites include outdated phone numbers or think that nobody cares about their physical address in the virtual world. The results are devastating. According to research, an e-commerce site that does not clearly state contact information is at risk of losing half the customers it could potentially sell to. People are looking for the people behind the business, so make yourself easy to find, through email, phone or business address. Show them that there is someone to help them during and after the sale so they will feel comfortable buying from you.
Customer Reviews. Touting your own horn is all fine and dandy but your customers want to know what other people are saying about you. Make it easy for them to find out by including a prominent review section on your site. Research shows that 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and what can be stronger than a friend recommending your products or service? Having authentic reviews by happy clients will make a profound impression on your business credibility. If possible, try to include a photo of the reviewer in order to increase trust.
Updates, News and Blogs. Having a frequently updated blogs or news section is the online equivalent to a full restaurant. It shows your business is lively and busy, which attracts buyers and increases their confidence in your product. Updating your site and blogging are also very important for SEO, which increases the chances of your website being found on search engines. Google loves sites that have frequent updates and content that is relevant to what the business is doing.
Photo and Video Gallery. A picture is worth a thousand words, and images convey what you really offer to customers in the most compelling way. Use photos and videos to show customers the wonderful things they will get by buying from you. Whether it’s an image of a beautiful hairdo, a graphic depicting how much money your customers can save, or a short video displaying how your product works, make sure they are prominently displayed on the home page. Including high-quality images or video that display your product in an appealing way is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Online Store. If your business is selling products, those products need to be available for purchase directly from your site. If you’ve followed the first four steps, your visitor is likely impressed by what they see and ready to buy. Although you may have a brick and mortar store, requiring them to go there could cost you sales. Alternatively, sending them to another e-commerce site like Etsy may cause them to postpone or cancel their decision to buy. Having an online store on your site makes purchases accessible and easy, increasing your bottom line
Social Profiles. Include all the social platforms that your business is active on, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on. Each platform appeals to a different audience, and can help market your business in a specific way. Making site visitors connect to your business on social media will increase your reach and improve your bottom line. Adding an option for your site visitor’s to share your site and recommend your business to their friends online will also increase word-of-mouth.
The tech-savvy consumer of today sees a website as a crucial part of any business. Including these important elements on your website will get site visitors interested in what you offer, encourage them to trust you, and ultimately lead them to buy more from you.
Omri Allouche is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Otonomic, a platform that was created to help small businesses upgrade their online presence by automatically turning their Facebook pages into professional business sites with a single click. Omri has a Ph.D. in Community Ecology and a long-lasting interest in the ways communities evolve and empower their individual members.