In today’s tight job market, where full-time roles quickly disappear to other candidates or to redundancy, more and more people are setting up their own business. With a concept, focus, and determination this can be a fantastic way of life. In fact an encouraging report from American Express revealed that 93% of British small business owners are ‘very’ or ‘quite’ happy with running their own business, and 70% said their main job satisfaction comes from being in charge of their own destiny, while 66% take pleasure from doing something they believe in.
But it’s not all rosy. Small business markets are crowded and highly competitive, with many owners having to fight tooth and nail to attract the attention of would-be customers. At the risk of stating the obvious, a quality website is essential if you want your business to shine like a diamond in the rough.
While many small businesses do run a website, the problem is that many of them aren’t fit for purpose in today’s digital age. Most often the website uses out of date technology. They are ‘static’ and offer no content management and therefore can’t perform basic but essential marketing tasks. The end result is that their sites doesn’t get the Google search rankings they could. Even if the poor websites do attract visitors, they may not be able to convert them into paying customers as they project a poor online image. These businesses are missing huge growth opportunities.
Most entrepreneurs want to do more work online – and know that they need to – but they fear that it’s going to cost them an arm and a leg. The truth is that by knowing the basics of today’s digital needs it is not hard, nor pricey, to build a quality online presence.
First impressions count, and having a visually appealing website with the right colour scheme and professional images makes all the difference. By organising your content effectively with a simple and intuitive navigation you’ll make it easier for clients to understand your products and services. And adding attention-grabbing calls to action will draw people in towards accepting your offer.
Depending on what your website offers, think about what images you’ll use. Make sure you use the best high-quality photos you can to showcase what you offer customers (whether this be a product or service). This will make the website look more professional.
An up-to-date website will be more relevant to visitors and give people a reason to return. Dynamic content such as news, special offers and testimonials are a few ways of bringing people back. And adding or updating content on your website makes it more search-engine friendly, as sites like Google look at the age and activity of the website when determining if it’s relevant to the search.
When writing copy for a website, it’s best to keep it real and engaging. Short, readable sentences that have a conversational tone are very effective but can still be make in keeping with your brand. You want to tell your story in a concise way while being very clear on what you can offer or what people should do next.
Be sure to have a second set of eyes reviewing the content, as any professionalism you build up on your website can be slated in seconds by a single misspelt word.
There are many tools available – often at a low cost – that will help you stay in contact and engage your customers. Contact forms, signup lists, email marketing, and SMS alerts are just a few ways you can boost your productivity while also improving the experience for your customer.
Once you have a website, you have to enable potential customers find it. Optimise the website so it gets helped up the rankings of search engines like Google. Promote it through your other business materials and use it as the main hub for communicating with customers.
With nearly 130 million websites in the United Kingdom and close to 24 million in South Africa, the internet is becoming a crowded place. But Botswana has less than 110,000 websites right now. Now is the time for Batswana entrepreneurs to get online, put their stake in the ground against local competition, and begin to get noticed by internet users around the world.