We’ve all seen it before, broken links and “photos” missing from a website. But these are just small glitches that are bound to happen from time to time in the day-to-day maintenance of a website. But what if you’ve managed to conquer the “broken link” blues but still can’t seem to get any traction or new business from your site?
Well, you may want to check out these 9 common mistakes that small business owners make with their website.
1. You Focus on Your Story and Not on Your Customer’s
People like to know that there is a person behind the business but you don’t have to get too personal. If you share your story it does make the experience more personal and helps establish what is often called that “know like & trust factor” – but only if it relates to your customer’s problem and their story.
When people come to your website, they aren’t looking for friends, they’re looking for a solution to their problem first and foremost. Share the details and history of your company on the “about” page, that’s what it’s for – but remember the rest of the website (the other 90%) is about your customer.
2. You’re Missing Social Proof
When you finish a service or ship a product to a customer, be sure to follow-up with them and if appropriate, ask for a testimonial, publish case studies and even take screenshots of compliments from social media like recommendations on LinkedIn or positive comments from Yelp, Facebook or Twitter. If you can get a video testimonial that’s even better.
You see anything you say about yourself on your own site, will be perceived as biased and naturally it will be met with some skepticism. Therefore, you will need to give prospects reassurances that working with you will be a good investment.
People will take you more seriously when they see “social proof” from others, that you are good at what you do and that you will get them results. Gather and publish testimonials. It isn’t easy to do, but they will give you tremendous credibility and authority.
3. It’s Hard for People to Find or Contact You
You’d be amazed how many websites I’ve seen, where you have to hunt for their contact information. Don’t forget – you want to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to reach out to you to find out more about your products and/or services. In more than one place and in more than one way. If you don’t – you should, otherwise what is your website there for?
Visitors should be able to reach you either via an email, a phone number or at the very least they should be able to send you a “direct message” via your social media channels. If your place of business requires customers or clients to visit your office, do you have a map embedded on your site for your office location?
Do you provide directions?
Have you registered your business on Google Places or in Facebook’s Professional Services directory?
Do you have links to your social media outlets?
Now while I wouldn’t make social icons prominent I’m going to disagree with the experts here and say have them on your site, because there’s a very good chance that they have at least one social app either open on their tablet or desktop or on their phone and that’s an easy way for someone to connect with you with little effort.
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4. You Have No “Calls to Action”
Use phrases that will prompt your visitors to take action. These are usually “action verbs” that you should have sprinkled throughout the copy on your site and definitely on any buttons where they need to sign-up for something or fill out a form. These include:
• Call for a Quote
• Buy Now
• Make a Reservation
• Watch a Demo
5. You Don’t Back-Up Your Site & It’s Not Secure
We now live in a world where “cyber-hacking” has become a part of life. We constantly see commercial after commercial about securing your personal identity from thieves, but few business owners secure the content on their website. Learn how to “back-up” your site’s content and data. There are plugins and cloud-based applications that can automatically eliminate the spam from bots that “raid” the comment section of your blog.
You can even lock hackers out of the back-end of your site and set your website to automatically back-up your site for you after a specified number of hours or days.
And don’t forget – once you “back-up” your site, make sure you know how to retrieve and upload your content and data back into your site. Sometimes, that requires another application or an entirely different process.
I know this makes you want to just throw your hands up, but take the time to learn how to do this, because you don’t want to do all this work and have someone steal, destroy or lose it all.
6. Your Audience Doesn’t Understand You
When you’re writing or producing any kind of content for your website, you want to maintain your standards, be professional and show them that you know what you are talking about, but you still want to keep in mind who your target audience is. You want to speak in their language. You want people to clearly understand what you do and what you have to offer.
You’re not there to impress your colleagues – so much as you’re trying to attract customers. This means that you may have to (in your mind) “over simplify” some things so your customers and prospects have a clear understanding that you’re the solution to their problem. Remember, speak to your customers not to your peers.
7. You Have No Way to Track or Measure Your Results
The biggest mistake most small business owners make with their website is having no clear goals set for their website in their business.
The second biggest mistake is that they put a large chunk of time and money into trying to reach a benchmark or goal with their website and fail to put in any analytics to give them the data and metrics to determine if their strategies or campaigns are helping them to reach that goal.
Web analytics platforms like Google Analytics or KissMetrics can help you measure your results. Most email service providers and social media platforms have metrics built-in to their applications. They allow you to see what your subscribers and followers are clicking on to help you track engagement, open and click-thru rates.
8. Your Content Isn’t Up-to-Date
So many small businesses want to know about SEO and Pay-Per-Click but what they don’t realize is that your SEO and PPC campaigns are only as good as your content. Google bases it’s SEO rankings on how relevant, shareable and fresh a site’s content is and PPC campaigns need, targeted, “keyword-rich” content as well to convert visitors into prospects. If you don’t update your website, but once a month or once a quarter – you won’t get the results you are looking for.
However, I must say, I’m not a big fan of relying too heavily on SEO and PPC campaigns. While they can be effective, I would ask you to remember the purpose for having content on your site (like a blog) is to give your prospects and customers something to refer back to on your site on a regular basis – to keep you top of mind when the need arises for your product or service.
If you’re stumped about what to write about, keep a list near your desk or on your phone and jot down all of the questions that you have been asked about your product or service over the years. You’d be amazed how many topics you will come up with.
Once you’ve gotten a decent size list, say 20 or 30 questions, take those questions and address them in the form of a blog post or a downloadable lead magnet – like a guide or “cheat sheet”.
9. You Have No Way to Capture Emails
In the online marketing world your email list is the most valuable asset you own – they even have a saying, “The money is in the list”. The easiest and most efficient way to capture a visitor’s email is to have at least one “opt-in” box somewhere on your site, encouraging visitors to sign-up for either: a free guide(related to your industry), a free online video training series or an invitation to a free workshop, etc.
The idea is that you offer something for free so they can “sample the goods” without any risk. It’s not that different from when you invite someone over to your house for dinner and they bring a friend you’ve never met before. What do you do? You offer them something to eat or drink to put them at ease and make them feel comfortable in your home. You don’t charge them for it!
When you offer something to a visitor for FREE in exchange for their email you have essentially begun the sales process, because that person by signing up for your email list, has said they are interested in hearing from you. They have now gone from being a visitor to a prospect.
This is why building your email list is so important and you should be doing this both online and off. When you have a viable list of leads, you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope that they see your post on Facebook or Twitter or that they stumble across your blog or LinkedIn profile. Your email list gives you the power to contact them whenever you like.
These are just some of the more common mistakes, I’ve come across while working with my clients on their websites. Just dealing with day-to-day site maintenance can be a real headache, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to look for. A few simple tweaks can make a huge difference.
If you’d like to take the guesswork out of what your website needs to captivate your audience and boost sales, signup for my “Home Page Checklist”. This is a FREE “cheat sheet” to help you see how your website could be missing the mark and why you should fix it.
Now it’s your turn. I want to here from you. . .
Question: How often do you add fresh content to or “back-up” your website? Do you do it on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Share your comments and questions below.
If you like what you see – then join the conversation!
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Note: This post was updated on August 6, 2018