So… Why do I (or you) need a website? Let’s face it – the phone book has gone by the wayside. The internet/interwebs/googles are the sources of information at your fingertips. When I was younger, if you wanted to know what business in your area did something – you went to the local phone book (yellow pages) – you made a call (gasp) and talked to someone. The internet is that resource now… and more than that.
Are you there?
If you have a business and don’t have a website, how do people know you exist? If I need information I turn to the internet, more times than I can count – every day. If I want to find a restaurant near where I am – I turn to Google or Yelp. If a business doesn’t show up – I won’t know it exists – and obviously won’t go spending any money there. Legitimate businesses have websites (of course so do some fraudulent ones) – this is how people find you and say – oh ok this place exists.
OK – someone has found your site – great! You want to keep them there (bounce rate and what not – we’ll discuss at a later date) so they learn about what you have to offer. The site needs to be user friendly (yes, the almighty Google takes user experience into consideration) otherwise people will bail and go elsewhere. What is user friendly? So glad you asked. Does it show up in a format that people find pleasing, easy to read, easy to navigate and actually provides information that is useful. A webpage that just states “We do ______” in tiny text that has poor contrast (1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are colorblind – to read about colorblindness see here) and doesn’t work well on a mobile device will not help keep people engaged – hence they leave. You need information that people can use.
Content is king
Yes… Content. Why do people turn to the internet? To get information (how do I do…). To solve problems (why does my car make this noise) and to purchase things – usually things that solve their problems. If you make pencils that help alleviate writing cramps (some people still do write by hand) I would suggest writing articles or blog posts about causes of hand cramps while writing, or how to help reduce cramping. A few quick searches online to find out who your audience is (ages of people who get hand cramps while writing, income level, location, etc.) and now you can target your articles to this crowd. You will then write the article directed at this audience – in a language they use. Writing this article directed at 15 year old gamers won’t probably help your cause.
Making content easy to read is quite helpful – and it helps keep the reader engaged. Using bulleted lists, header fonts (your h1, h2, h3 business – the “Formatting helps” above is h3 text) and so on help the user experience and Google actually wants to see this – again to provide information and a good user experience. Google isn’t in business because it directs people to terrible websites with poor content and aren’t user friendly (again with the bounce rate). Provide useful information in an easy to read format – it makes sense.
If you study inbound marketing you see that having people come to your site and learn about what it is they are searching for and having them share it will increase your market. What is Inbound Marketing? Hubspot.com says “Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.” Of course you want people to keep coming back for more – repeat customers are a good thing. Providing information in a non-salesy way is the road to be on. Of course, there is the buyer’s journey and writing articles that focus on the various parts of this journey – so you can attract people from the different stages makes sense. Yes it is a lot of writing, and it does take time, but once the ball gets rolling it can have exponential results.
How does this increase sales? First, if you have a website (that is optimized, has good content that people want to read and share, uses good SEO, keywords and so on) people can find you. If they don’t know you exist they probably won’t be buying from you. People will read your helpful, non salesy articles and remember where they read it. They will share this info on social media. People usually hang with people who have similar interests – so they may find your informational articles (I like the word infarticles, but it doesn’t sound right) to be helpful as well. When they explore the site – they find that the product or service that you offer solves their issues so they purchase it. There you have it – selling products by providing information on a site that people can find and not even having to “sell.” I am not saying get rid of your sales department, I am saying the additional revenue stream is a good thing.
To recap – websites serve the following purposes – and many more:
- Global and local directory of businesses
- Establish legitimacy
- Provide information
- Attract customers
- Increase sales
I hope this helps you understand how important having a website, knowing your audience, and having content is.