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Marketing Your Small Business with an Effective Website
A website is a must for most small business start-ups. In today’s marketplace, consumers and businesses use the internet to research necessary products and services. Whether you are targeting a specific group of consumers or if your focus is B2B, an online presence promoting your new business can be an important part of your marketing plan. Consider these 10 tips for launching an effective small business website.
Choose an effective domain name. Not all visitors will search for your website through a search engine. Some will look for it by trial and error, typing in the most logical URL. Keep your web address as short as possible. Begin with your actual business name and expand to alternatives using your geographic location. Consider purchasing the same domain name with multiple extensions like “.com” and “.info”.
Use value-added hosting services. Your first website will most certainly grow and expand as your business does. Plan ahead by choosing a host company that can offer additional feature and application add-ons as you need them like ecommerce, blogging capabilities or redirects. Also consider your host company's approach to troubleshooting and customer service. Choose one that will be easily accessible if you need help with the mechanics of site maintenance.
Customize it. It can be tempting to go with the quick and easy implementation of a template website. However, a cookie-cutter approach diminishes your ability to create an effectively branded site that includes your specific logo, colors and “look.” You will gain the most small business marketing impact with a website design that relates visually to your other promotional materials.
Include quality content. Good-looking design shouldn’t be a substitute for relevant content. Use your website to provide customers and prospects with needed information about your products and services. Be sure your choice of content answers the questions your visitors have about your small business.
Highlight your contact information at the top of your pages. Don’t bury your phone number, email and physical address in a “contact” page or in the footer of your site. Regardless of the prevalence of internet-based business, personal interaction is still necessary. Make it easy for your visitors to see how to contact you directly.
Make it user-friendly. Be sure the presentation of your site doesn’t become a barrier to visitors learning about your company. Focus your layout and colors on readability and ease of navigation.
Encourage visitor response. Provide opportunities for site visitors to offer feedback or request information. Promote interaction with your prospects using online surveys, quote request forms or downloadable documents.
Proofread. Showcase your company’s professionalism by making sure your website is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Verify all the information included in your site to make sure it is accurate.
Plan for the launch. Consider ways to let your current customer base know about your website launch. Send out bulk emails promoting your new site. Set a specific launch date and encourage feedback with giveaways for responses.
Update frequently. Don’t stop with your website launch. To be an effective resource for customers and prospects, your website needs to remain up-to-date. Develop a plan to review the site regularly for areas that need changes and additions, and schedule site maintenance accordingly.
An internet presence can be a vital part of your small business marketing plan. These simple tips for launching a website can help you make your site a true resource to customers and an effective generator of new leads. For other ideas about online marketing, consider this two-part article on where to advertise your small business online for free.