Do you feel like your website is an asset to your small business or is it a liability? Do you feel like you keep pumping money into your online promotion without getting money back out of it?
Based on my review of hundreds of small business websites, these are the top 5 reasons that a small business website is a liability instead of an asset.
1. No website
No company should be without a website in 2014. There simply is not a field or product today that couldn’t be promoted to the online public without success.
“No website” includes the free sites that are made from a generic template. As I describe below, these aren’t websites because they don’t accomplish a purpose. At best, they are place holders.
2. Website is not mobile-friendly
By the end of 2014, more online searches will be done from mobile devices – phones, iPads and tablets – than from desktops. If a small business website is poorly done in a mobile format, it will lose visitors and potential clients.
When a website is properly done for mobile devices, it will work to create the same impact on visitors as the full site.
While any site can be updated for mobile capability, it can be best to take the time and effort to simply create a new site that can do precisely what the small business owner needs.
3. Website has no purpose
This is the killer for most modern websites. They have been designed by people skilled in IT but short in marketing skill.
Too often, business owners and designers think of the company site as a static, two-dimensional piece. It is designed to be a brochure, albeit an expensive one with flashy graphics.
Every website must have a clearly defined purpose that it achieves. Some common purposes for sites are:
- Identity capture. This is the collection of the identities of people visiting the site for real-world follow up and sale.
- Reaches into the office. A dental practice, for example, wants people to visit the site and then call to set an appointment.
- Direct sales. A website can also be designed to make direct online sales.
A website that isn’t so oriented is a liability. No matter how much money is spent getting traffic to the site, if it isn’t designed to do one of the things above, that money is wasted.
It can be difficult to decide on an exact strategy for a small business website. But the time and effort are worth it.
4. Dispersed site design
When a website is designed by an IT person who isn’t trained in marketing, or worse, when it is designed by a committee, the site structure can become dispersed.
What does a dispersed site look like? A dispersed website has:
- Pages upon pages of “informational” material with no effort to convert or direct that traffic to the site purpose.
- Links that lead visitors away from the site to other websites. The worst of these actually take visitors to competitors’ sites.
- Cluttered pages that give visitors too many options
Seth Godin created an excellent analogy for website visitors in his book, The Big Red Fez. He recommends that we think of our website visitors as crack-addicted monkeys looking for a banana. While this may not be very flattering, it can help to clarify how we want our pages to look. It should be very clear on each page where the banana is located and how our monkey can get it. Of course, if the site has no purpose (#3 above) then we also have no banana.
5. Website pages that don’t do anything.
Here’s a little experiment. Right now, grab an office brochure and tape it on the wall. It can be your most expensive, fanciest brochure.
Tape it up there real good. I’ll wait.
OK now grab a bunch of paperclips or other small bits from your desk. Those are your customers.
Got them in hand? OK – throw them at the brochure.
How many did your brochure capture?
Notice that it doesn’t matter how many clips you throw. You could pay someone to throw thousands of “customers” at that paper all day long with no result.
Now – Take it off the wall and roll it so it makes a cone and tape it up again. Toss your paper clips in there again.
How many customers did you capture?
Your website pages should be website funnels, not pages. They aren’t two-dimensional. Instead, they are three-dimensional objects represented on the computer screen. Every single page of your site needs to be a funnel that channels visitors to do precisely what you want them to do and nothing else.
This is accomplished with careful planning, professional design that contributes to rather than distracts from the website purpose, and professional sales copy that correctly closes the visitor to do the intended action.
Create a funnel
Look over your own site. Compare it to these 5 points. How did it do?
I do a free website analysis for any website. I not only provide my analysis of the site, but I give a free program of steps to do right now to make it a little better. These steps can often be done by the business owner for free. If you’d like a free website analysis, fill one out and I’ll get back to you within a day or two.