So, you planned out your year, financially, focusing maybe on stabilizing your position in the market or growing your foot print. You’ve crossed your “T’s” and dotted your “I’s” on your budgets, sales quotas and projected projects for the upcoming year. You’re ready to start the year out with a bang…or are you? Did you think to add technology upgrades to plan for increasing revenue and market share?
Technology upgrades aren’t just about replacing old hardware and updating software anymore. Upgrading your technology can be the most effective marketing dollars you spend all year. Yes, you read right, marketing. Technology investments can actually be revenue producing and we can prove it.
Today, people want to support the small to medium sized local business. For a number of different reasons, business and consumers often prefer to purchase products or services from a local business rather than a large chain. The key is finding these potential clients and connecting with them, in a way that is comfortable, familiar and non-invasive. Your prospective clients will use technology to find you. Why not make the process easier?
Leverage Technology to Drive Business – The Art of the Website
The key to developing a brilliant website is to, not only drive the right traffic to your site, but to keep the viewer engaged once they have arrived. The world wide web has evolved. People no longer always go directly to a website or search for a word. People search based on questions or problems and are drawn to visually appealing content. They look for answers. There is an art to providing those answers and, unless you are a web designer, you aren’t Picasso.
Give Them Answers: The fastest way to drive traffic to your website is to create valuable content, demonstrating your company’s expertise, without selling. Simply discussing some of the problems that drove your current clients to you, will logically and strategically drive prospective clients to you. There is reason your current clients located, and then chose you in the first place. For example, if you sell and service washing machines, a brief article entitled “Should you renew your washer’s warrantee or buy new? Pros and Cons” will draw the right potential customers to search out your website. Not because they have heard of you, but rather because they are interested in other consumer’s opinions. What have others done, when faced with the same dilemma? These are prospective customers, that already know they may need to either buy a new washer or service their old one. These are the exact people who you want to talk to versus the traditional media marketing efforts of the “spray and pray” method. You know, if you shoot blindly at enough targets, a bullet is bound to hit at least one. It works, but with a limited ROI.
Keep It Simple: A smartly designed website is a big plus. As much as we all have to say about our product and service, people don’t care…yet. An easy to navigate, creative and thoughtfully designed website will keep people engaged. Rule of thumb, no more than 2 clicks. If the content they are looking for is too many clicks “deep,” they won’t keep drilling. Too much content creates sensory overload. Think of how many times you have clicked on an interesting read in your Facebook feed, only to find it overloaded with ads, popups and “trick clicks”. Did you end up reading it or found it so annoying, you moved on?
But, not too Simple: On the other hand, if it’s too simple or naked, the identical problem mentioned above ensues. If I have to click through your naked website, because you are being too vague or trendy, I’m done searching. Today’s consumer wants what they want, when they want it. Trying to be overly minimalistic, for ambiguity purposes, often has the opposite effect. Don’t try to be cute, just display the content requested. When I find an article I want to read and am interested enough to click on it, give me the content. Again, if I have to dig, I won’t and neither will your prospective customers.
Mobile Mobile Mobile!: Yes, it’s important. Yes, you can have it too and no, it’s not just for the “big guys.” You too HAVE to have a mobile-friendly website. In fact, redesigning a website that is NOT optimized for mobile use is, quite frankly, a waste of money. A recent Gallup poll showed that 72% of Americans look at their mobile device more than once per hour. 60% of all searches are conducted on a mobile device. 71% of Americans have their mobile device within a foot of them while they sleep. And, lastly, 35% say the first thing they do in the morning is look at their cell, outweighing grabbing the morning cup of joe by more than double. With those kinds of stats, and the numbers continuing to grow, why would you ignore that market segment? Think about it, there is nothing more frustrating than combing the internet and finding exactly what you are looking for on the web, only to find you can’t read the site on your phone. The kiss of death for that website, in my book.
So, what have we learned from this?
- Invest in an expert. Don’t go it alone. Years ago, if you were motivated and computer efficient, you could design your own website. Those days have gone the way of the land line and the MP3 player. Instead, find someone who does this for a living. You wouldn’t attempt to repaint your car by yourself? Why would you redesign your website? They can guide you in the process, while showing you bottom-line, hard facts that prove you can and will see an increase in revenue, as a result of their design. If they can’t show you value before you sign, keep shopping.
- If you don’t know an expert, ask for one. Website optimization has become so specific and precise, that even IT companies and MSPs no longer will do as part of your service package. They do, however, have trusted and vetted partners who will. More often than not, they have a great web optimization company, they have worked with before, that they KNOW will show you results. Don’t guess at this one. There is too much at stake. Ask an expert in the tech field. If your current vendor can’t assist you, time to find another vendor.
- If you don’t change, you’ll become irrelevant. The path to purchase, for all products and services, regardless of industry, has changed. If you don’t adjust and move with the times, your business is doomed. Referrals have always been part of doing business. The difference is, that now, consumers look to the world for referrals, not just their own network. They shop for products and services, based on reviews, business need and experiences of other business owners, all of which are at their fingertips. The value of peer reviews is immeasurable and thousands of those are available in seconds. Don’t be the last one on the bandwagon. Now, before you freak out, this doesn’t have to be a massive investment. It can be done over time and in phases. The internet wasn’t invented in a day, so you can start small, but start.
When it comes to making smart technology decisions, it’s always best to trust an expert. The right partner will have metrics to prove the value of their work to your business. They will align their design to your business strategy. You have the idea of where you want your company to be in 5 years. Use available expertise in the world around you to help you get there or end up side by side with Blockbuster Video and AOL.