Increase Website Conversions and Leads

Does your website have a purpose?

What is a website conversion you ask? It is getting a website visitor to take an action you have defined. It may be a click to the next page you want them to read, or to share their contact information with you or to register for your newsletter or white paper.

Website conversions may be simple, such as paging through an article.
In a book, reading further or in a blog, paging to the next article may be considered a conversion.

Plan website conversions

Increasing leads or contacts from your website means that you have clearly defined (in your marketing plans for the website) what action you wish the website visitor to take. Then you have mapped out the process and progression to causing that action and made sure your site’s design easily allows for the actions you seek. If you’ve gone to the trouble to create a website, you should be depending on it to perform a certain marketing function for your business.

Website conversion examples

For bloggers, a conversion is more page views, so using a snippet and a read more tag or shorter content pages for each post that must be paged through (as many commercial sites do.) For some businesses a conversion might be getting the website visitor to click from home page to the services page. These are “soft” conversions. They cause the website’s user to get more familiar with your brand.

However there are also more definitive conversions as well, that equal “call us now” or on a Facebook page, “Click ‘Like’ to get your free widget.” Many sites invite reviews, another type of conversion.  You could even consider comments a form of conversion if that is what you seek.

What are the essential items you must have on your businesses website to increase conversions?

  1. A call to action — Soft or hard. Soft calls to action are messages such as “Ask us about our new customer discount.” Hard calls to action are the ones that cause the reader to do something now to get what they want; such as register to download our whitepaper. Calls to action may be contained in graphical elements or within the page text as copy.
  2. Conversion forms— The simplest one is a Contact Us form. Others can be registration forms or contest forms.
  3. Your phone number–The top conversion for many businesses is a phone call from someone who visited your website.

With a bit of planning, your website will work for you as a lead generation tool.

What kind of website does your business need?

Most small business owners want a website, but aren’t sure of how they’ll use it. Knowing the purpose of your business’s website is important to understand before you start building it or assign a budget to your project.

One size does not fit all in websites either

One type does not fit all

There are so many ways you can use your site. Most want a website to help promote and publicize their business. Some want it to function like a “Yellow Pages Directory Ad;” providing contact information. Some may want to use their website to sell their most popular products or services. Others may want to use their site as a customer service portal. Most, however want to use their web site as a brochure—and often don’t realize that there are many other options.

Brochures and more

A static brochure website functions like a printed brochure, sharing information about your business all day, every day. It usually features your products and services and a call to action. Additionally, you can offer free samples; white papers or valued added items that can help you convert your prospect into an interested customer.

This is a very simple type of site and if you don’t plan to update it too often, you probably won’t need a content management system (CMS) to help you change content, but it may mean that you pay your web developer to update your content for you. If you are somewhat computer savvy, using a CMS, you can keep your site’s information current and help you avoid the expense of content changes.

Avoid Flash

A couple of “web generations” ago businesses hoped to impress their customers with sites that use Flash. Many opened with a “splash” page which delayed the customer’s ability to see your products and services. It’s common that customers don’t want to wait and will abandon a Flash based site before they realize the full experience. With the use of iPhones that don’t support Flash, you may wish to avoid using Flash except to display small or embedded elements. There are many ways to use CSS (cascading style sheets) to provide motion on a page that may be preferable to Flash.

Add interactivity

Given the interactivity of the web today, you can have so much more than a static site. Adding interactivity, such as comments and product evaluations or ranking as well as social media connections to your site helps people know more about your business, creating a higher feeling of trust.

 

WordPress LogoUse a content management system

A website that is active and updated often may produce better results in search engine rankings. Google favors fresh content and connections from various kinds of rich media (audio or podcasts and video.) If you want the best rankings in search engines, having fresh varied content is primary. So, you’ll need a CMS to manage your data. There are many Open Source platforms that provide CMS functionality. These include Drupal, Joomla and WordPress. Usually one of these solutions is more than adequate for most small businesses. All allow for rich media, interactivity and easy updating.

E-commerce doesn’t equal a whole store

If you sell products as opposed to services, you may want an e-commerce website. Most small business owners don’t want or need a site with all the functionality of Amazon’s robust store, but there are ways to sell your business’s most sought after items. This is a good idea if you operate in a large geographic area. You can save them travel time while maintaining your relationship and get product evaluations too.  Selling a limited number of items using Google Checkout or PayPal provides inventory tracking, the capture of customer information and even a way to refund money should you ever need it. Integrating either solution into your website is simple. Both solutions function well for small business websites.

 

Facebook logoBe sociable

If social media is part of your marketing communications plan, you should link to your profiles, feature your Twitter stream and demonstrate your social media activity on the website. Let your customers find you on Twitter, LinkedIn or your business’s Facebook page. These communication channels allow customers to know your business in an informal way. Truly, we are all busy and customers don’t often have time to linger in the store getting to know you. With social media you can share your personality to support your brand.

Adding chat functionality into your site provides people an immediate way to contact you if you are online when they wish to talk with you. You can also add a Google Voice widget that connects directly with your business phone so that people coming to your site can make a connection easily and for free.

Free is good

If you have expertise in a particular area, you can provide e-books or white papers on topics that will develop credibility in the minds of your customers. You can also put downloadable value added coupons on your site to stimulate a buy now attitude.

Reach the website finish line & achieve goals

Know your goals

Knowing your goals for the website lets your web developer make efficient use of their time and yours, choose the appropriate tool-set to implement your site, while achieving your business objectives.

Planning your business website

Originally published in 2010, this article on website planning and budgeting is one of our evergreen posts providing you tips and insight into how to plan your new website.

“What does a website cost?” is the first question we often hear from someone in need of a new site for their business. Frequently the people who ask this question are those who are just starting their business and fear spending more than they can afford.

What are the key questions you need to ask when planning your website?

Our response is most always, “What do you want to accomplish?” This key question is the foundation of the development of a website for your business. As the business owner, you need to answer these basic questions:

  • Who will be the primary audience for your website?
  • What experience do you want your site’s users to have?
  • What actions do you want your users to take?
  • What level of interactivity you wish for your site? Will you provide them opportunity for feedback? Customer Service Chat? Downloading of white papers or instruction manuals?
  • Who will produce the site’s copy / content?
  • Where will the images come from to illustrate your site?
  • How often will the site content be updated and who will do those updates?
  • Who will maintain the site?

We use this questionnaire to help our clients in the development of their website. We find it focuses everyone’s thinking during the critical planning process.

Should you use a purchased theme or template for your website?

Website templates abound, and while cheap and quick, they may not be the right tool for your business. Using a popular theme may leave you with a cookie cutter website. You will spend far more time trying to cause one of them to fit your corporate identity than if you’d started from scratch. You’re not a clone of other businesses, so why should you have a website which looks like everyone else’s?

But the bottom line is that you must know what resources you can allocate to the development of your web presence;  not only the dollars you allocate to pay for services, but the time you have available to be involved. Will you write copy? If so, expect to spend a very significant amount of time writing it. This takes time away from your business and may not be the best use of your resources. Do you want to take all the photos of your products or facility? If you want to do this, do you have the right equipment to produce the finest quality images that will represent your business well? Who will produce your videos? Each of these types of content require skilled professionals to produce the highest quality work which will help your site appear professional and enhance your reputation.

How can your website developer help you?

As with most designers and developers, Charleston PR & Design works with you to provide what you need and stay within your budget. However, you must have realistic budget expectations. How can you determine what you want to spend? Do your planning. Get quotes from several website developers. Ask other business owners whose websites you admire what they spent. Ask your CPA, business advisor or banker what they’ve seen as a typical expenditure for a business with your projections. These insights will help you get exactly what you need without overspending.