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Small Business

 

Why Women In Small Business Must Have A Web Site

In recent years we've seen a HUGE increase in the number of small businesses owned by women. This growth has been so dramatic that millions of people now think of a woman when they visualize who owns the businesses they buy from.

Women everywhere deserve a big pat on the back for this amazing accomplishment. But as is always the case for small business owners, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The one thing your small business MUST have is a web site. Sure, ten y...

women,small business,web design,web promotion

In recent years we've seen a HUGE increase in the number of small businesses owned by women. This growth has been so dramatic that millions of people now think of a woman when they visualize who owns the businesses they buy from.

Women everywhere deserve a big pat on the back for this amazing accomplishment. But as is always the case for small business owners, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The one thing your small business MUST have is a web site. Sure, ten years ago having a site was an option many small businesses could do without. But that is no longer the case. Here's why:

* These days consumers and business leaders are more likely to use search engines than the Yellow Pages. They'll type the name of your town and your type of business into Google and start their research from there.

* A web site lets you put as MUCH information as you want in a public forum. You no longer have to pay thousands for a big newspaper ad just to let customers know about your prices, new services, or show photos of what you do. Now you can keep all that information available on your web site 24/7 at little or no cost.

* You know as well as I do that most customers are a little shy about asking questions. Often they don't even want you to know they're interested until AFTER they have learned more about your product, service, or idea. A web site allows that vast number of potential customers to privately and anonymously read all about your business. Then, when they're ready to buy, they'll come forward with their questions and orders. This is a MUCH more efficient way to do business, which leads to my next point.

* Web based business operations can be EXTREMELY EFFICIENT. Customers often prefer convenient email over phone or in-person visits. Email encourages customers to organize their ideas, contacting you when they know what they want and are ready to act. You'll find your web site generates many more customers and the customers you get are better organized.

* Finally, women love to buy from women-owned businesses. Women, as a group, tend to be less compulsive shopper than men. While a large segment of men will buy an item on impulse, the vast majority of women prefer to learn about your product or service, getting all the details they can before placing an order. Web sites are perfect for presenting a lot of information at very little cost.

 

Your Small Business Web Site

A web site is a crucial ingredient of your marketing strategy because it can widen your target market to include anyone who has access to a computer and the internet. So, how can you reach some of those internet surfers, and how can you capture some of the billions spent in ecommerce?

small business web site, small business website

A web site is a crucial ingredient of your marketing strategy because it can widen your target market to include anyone who has access to a computer and the internet. Almost 60% of Canadians had access to the internet at home in 2003, and around 8 million had regular access to the internet from somewhere, either at home, at work or at school.

And that’s just in Canada. Ecommerce sales from Canada were $7.2 billion, and we only captured 4% of the global ecommerce market! So, how can you reach some of those internet surfers, and how can you capture some of that $7.2 billion spent in ecommerce?

First, you build it
The first step is designing your website. If your company already has business cards and letterhead, it’s best to design your website around them. A matching corporate identity and website helps with branding.

I like uncomplicated websites, with a simple layout and easy navigation. A nice, simple layout, with good graphics, balanced look and good color combinations is my #1 goal when designing a small business web site. Remember to use graphics sparingly and to optimize them for your website because internet surfers are impatient. If your page loads too slowly, they’ll leave.

Navigation should be easy to find and to use, and it should be consistent from page to page. I’ve left more than one site frustrated because I couldn’t easily find their navigation.

Small business web sites aren’t static. They evolve. You need to start somewhere, and starting with an introductory web site is probably easiest. All you really need to start is five pages. You can always add pages later. The important thing is to just do it—take the plunge and get it out there.

Your five pages could include an index, or home page, about us, services, contact and a sitemap. The index page is your landing page. Typically its design is a little more detailed than the others, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I like to use CSS (cascading style sheets) for designing because it’s simply easier to build a web site and to edit its layout with CSS rather than just HTML (hypertext markup language) alone. A change on a CSS sheet changes all the pages on your site at once.

Content is king
Once your site is designed, you’ll want to start thinking about content. Design is very important, but it does little good to have a beautiful site without high-quality content.

Your small business home page introduces you and your company—who you are and what you do. The about us page is usually used to give more detail than the home page about who you are, and your services page gives more detail about what you do. You might wonder why you’d “waste” a page on a sitemap since you only have 5 pages, but sitemaps help search engines find all the pages in your site.

As far as content goes, more is better, up to a point. Your pages should be content rich and informative, but they also need to be relevant to your small business. If your visitor can’t figure out what your web site is about in just a few seconds, they may leave.

The internet was at first strictly informational, and that’s how it remains today. Several times people have tried experiments using copywriting similar to direct mail sales letters, but they’ve all failed. It seems as if people surf the internet more for information than anything else. Knowing this will help you write pages people will want to read.

Attracting visitors
You could follow your instinct and just start writing, but wait. There’s research you must do first, or your web site simply won’t be high enough in searches to be found. Search engine optimization is far too big a subject to cover in this short article, but among other things, search engines find your pages based on keywords.

So, pretend for a moment that you’re on the other side of the desk. If you were a customer of your own business, what words or phrases would you use to search for your product or service? Ask friends and neighbors how they’d search for your product or services.

When you’ve come up with a few, check them out on a keyword suggestions tool. You can also use that tool to suggest similar words and phrases. Then find out how many results there would be if you searched for that term. What you want to do next is narrow down your choices to the words or phrases that are searched for the most, but have the fewest results.

Remember that people generally don’t look beyond the first three pages for any search term, so if you’re not in the top three pages, your business is not likely to be found at all. If there are millions of results for your phrase, you might simply need to make it more specific.

For example, let’s say you have a small business consulting company that specializes in communication for small business. Using “communication” as a search term is nearly pointless because there are almost 2 billion results for that word. But, there are only 974 results for “small business communication”.

Much better, but how often is that searched for? According to WordTracker, it’s searched for 10 times a day. Not bad, but I think we can do better. How about “small business consulting”? That’s searched for 261 times a day, and there are 373,000 results. That could be the best primary phrase for a small business communication consulting company.

What you want to do, is write your content around those words and phrases. You don’t want or need very many—three or four are plenty.

Getting them to come back again and again
Getting visitors to come back to your site again and again is relatively simple. Keep your content fresh and lively, make sure it’s informative, and add to it often.

I hope you decide your small business needs a web site. It’s the best way I know how to reach a wider target audience with a relatively small investment.

 

Top 5 Mistakes That Stamp LOSER On Your Small Business Web Site

Now your small business web site can be used as an effective marketing tool. Used in the right way, it can spear-head many successful marketing campaigns for you in the near future...

small business web sites

Are you making this mistake with your small business web site? Too many small business owners look at their web site as an online brochure. They use it as little more than a place to store their office hours and service list.

A different way has emerged. Now your small business web site can be used as an effective marketing tool. Used in the right way, it can spear-head many successful marketing campaigns for you in the near future.

To begin, effectively use your web site to attract leads and customers; use it to let prospective clients know who you are. Offer valuable content related to your expertise. Attract them back over and over like bees to honey. Soon you will become Top-Pick over your competition.

Did you know that many of your prospects (even locally) will type your business name or web site name in Google to see what you offer? Often they are looking to see what you offer compared to your competitor. Recently, Calif. based USC Annenberg School said from 2005 research, 78.6 Americans go online. An almost equally large percentage 72.3 say that the search engines provide whatever information they are looking for.

To make your small business Web site more effective, go through this short checklist and tweak it for better results. Or if you are just starting, now is the perfect time to put your Internet marketing plan into place to see new quarter profits.

Stay open to learn what it takes to put the right sales language and content on your site bringing more targeted visitors (visitors looking for what you have to offer.) Know the robots of the various search engines examine web sites daily looking for good key word food, free information, and content.

Correct these small business web site mistakes and make more profit:

Mistake 1 No sales letter(s).

Solution: Novice Internet marketers don't even know they need a sales letter for their services and products. They missed the foundational marketing message that said, "Only words sell. Flashy even great looking websites don't convince anyone to call, email you and foremost of all buy. Only words can do that. Write a sales letter for each service or product you offer. Give your web site visitors a reason why they should buy from you.

Mistake 2 No or poorly written headlines to point the way

Solution: Put headlines filled with benefits on your home page to direct people to your sales letter. Develop the skill of writing headlines. Provocative titles will stir interest. Provocative statements capture our attention like a fish on a hook. They throw out the baited hook and reel a captive audience in every time. For example, here's a shocking statement one sex therapist used 'Wives Who Don't Want Sex.' Even if his web visitors didn't have this problem, it got the attention of the curious. Rewrite your headlines. Make sure they lead your prospects to your sales page.

Mistake 3 No testimonials or case studies

Add Testimonials. Most everyone wants to know who else has used your service and had a good experience. Testimonials speak up for your product or service. They act as a referral and even an endorsement. The compliments from another customer help melt away your prospect's fears and doubts about trusting you.

Mistake 4 No compelling reason to keep reading

You may have been awarded for the most beautiful site. Congratulations! But if your web site copy is weak it may not translate to sales. Check your copy for dud phrases. Are you using trite phrases like Welcome to the official site of _____, to find out about ME, MY Company, My Achievements click here, or Sign-up for my FREE ezine. Use wording that will convince your prospects to keep reading, trust you and take action. Insert benefit loaded headlines, bullets and even links.

Mistake 5 Not enough benefits (what in it for me) on home page

Put your resume, bio and credentials on your About Us page or even the Contact page. You customer wants to know the answer to this question first. "what's in it for me?" Don't get me wrong; put them in their proper place on your site. But your audience will most want to know the value of your product to them. You must answer questions like, "Will it solve my particular problem?" "What will I gain?" "What will I lose if I don't use your service?"

If you are serious about making your website a more effective marketing tool, begin by correcting the top five mistakes above. Even one or all of the principles in place will help make your website one that your visitors will contact you from, proudly refer, and come back to over and over again. Write compelling copy and grow your business today.

===================================

(c) Earma Brown, 11 yr. Web Developer, Author
eBk: 7 Easy Acts of Online Promotion for Your Business. Everyone loves to prosper. You and your staff deserve to prosper too! Earma, principal developer at Arrow Productions helps writers and entrepreneurs realize their web dreams. Sign up for her free ezine "Web Wit" at webwit@arrowproduction.com or visit her on the web at http://www.arrowproduction.com or http://www.clickeasymarketing.com




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