bighorn sheep

By Suzanne Carroll, Digital Writer

As a small-business owner, you want your company’s website to be appealing, functional and reflective of your brand. But as you make website design choices, it’s important to not lose sight of your ultimate goal: gaining new customers. While there’s no single solution for turning a curious web browser into a client, small-business owners can take proactive steps to increase the likelihood that their website visitors will become leads.

Keep it Simple

When a visitor lands on your company’s homepage, they should instantly know what your products or services are. Likewise, it must be straightforward to make purchases from your website or inquire about services. To this end, small-business owners should do the following:

1. Make your pitch clear.

When people come to your website, they’ll decide whether to move on in less than 10 seconds. Create a headline that immediately tells your visitors what you have to offer and why it’s in their interest to find out more: “Free roofing estimates for the Tri-Cities area!” “Get your cheese and crackers delivered in less than an hour!” “Help us save the bighorn sheep and get raffle tickets for great prizes!”

2. Define what makes you different.

Visitors also need to quickly recognize how you stand out from your competitors. This differentiator should be nugget-sized: “We’ve been in the roofing business for over 50 years.” “We’re the only store that sells these local cheeses.” “We’ve preserved over 100 acres of bighorn sheep habitat.” Also, consider placing logos for any awards, recognitions or certifications your business has earned in clear view.

3. Make it easy to contact you.

Consider how you want potential customers to get in touch. Whether you want people to call a hotline, complete an intake form or use an online shopping cart, the method of transaction should be obvious to the user and easy to navigate. The technology behind any contact or order form must work flawlessly.

 

Prove it (Socially)

Very few consumers are trendsetters or early adapters. People are more comfortable choosing products that are already popular with others. You can think of it as herd mentality, but the truth is, consumers just want to spend their money wisely. If you want clicks, you’ll need to generate social proof, or evidence from other consumers that your products are sound and will help solve their problems. Here’s how to get started:

1. Establish your community.

Your website should include language that lets visitors know there are other consumers just like them who’ve chosen your products. Your community can be small (“We’ve been introducing the finest cheeses to discerning palates since 2008…”) or defined quite broadly (“Over 5,000 Californians have already pledged to help bighorn sheep…”).

2. Social media counts.

It’s simple to include on your homepage how many Facebook likes, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections or newsletter subscribers you have. Highlighting these numbers reinforces your products’ popularity with a greater audience.

3. Compile testimonials and reviews.

Customers place great stock in feedback they perceive as unsolicited and objective. To this end, including testimonials on your website can help influence a vacillating potential customer. Avoid featuring comments that are vague (“The roofers were good…”) and instead present comments that speak specifically to how your products or services solved a problem (“The roofers worked quickly and our heating bills are so much lower…”). Stories from fellow consumers often have a deeper effect on the reader than simple statistics.

 

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

Testing is a key part of turning your website’s visitors into leads. It’s tempting for a small-business owner to create a beautiful website and then step back to let it run. This is a huge opportunity lost. To generate customers, you need to continuously tinker with your web content and perform tests to find out what works.

1. Get the tools.

If you haven’t done so already, your website should include Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics. These free tools enable you to determine where your web traffic is coming from and which visitors are becoming clients. Use them to quickly understand your visitors’ behavior and respond agilely. Having these tools is essential for testing how users respond to different parts of your website.

2. Do A/B testing.

Earlier in this blog, we discussed the importance of using precise language to identify and differentiate your products or services to web users. There’s no “magic bullet” message that will convince every visitor to purchase, but you can find out which messages are working better. For example, try varying headlines on your site that point to multiple differentiators: “Best Tri-Cities Area Roofing Three Years in a Row,” “Only Green Roofing Company in the Tri-Cities Area,” “9 Out of 10 Customers Give Us 5 Stars.”

This experimentation applies to other content, too. Find out if adding videos or staff photographs to your site increases leads. Try reworking your intake form or shopping cart to see if small tweaks generate greater interest or additional purchases.

The adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to small business’ websites. A small-business owner needs to constantly be on the lookout for what web users are responding to. A/B testing doesn’t call for a complete redesign of the site, but it does underscore the need for businesses to regularly recalibrate their approaches to the public.

 

Where to Go from Here

A small-business owner knows the importance of remaining flexible. This flexibility should extend to your online marketing strategy and the website itself. Your customers’ preferences and habits can change with lightning speed, and there’s no reason why you can’t keep up.

Learn how to drive more traffic to your website with Google AdWords.