EvO:R-Pedia - What do your website visitors see when they look at your business website?
by Suzanne Foley

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    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.

    What do your website visitors see when they look at your business website?
    by Suzanne Foley

    What do your website visitors see when they look at your business website? What does it say about your business? Look at it from your potential customers' perspective and ask yourself, "Would I buy from this company based upon what I see here?"

    Consider your website as your online 'store.' Whether or not you actually have online shopping capabilities built into your site, it's often the first impression companies have of you and your business. I like to use the analogy of a sandwich shop. Imagine that you walk into a café and immediately notice lots of empty tables that have not been cleaned. Previous customer's cups and plates are still on many tables. The floor is dirty. It's difficult to read the menu and there are not very detailed descriptions of the sandwich selections. The kid working behind the counter is not friendly and doesn't ask if you want a side salad or chips. You might be so turned off by the whole scene that you turn around and walk out.

    Then you arrive at another sandwich shop a block away. It's brightly lit, cheerful and very clean. There are lots of people in here, but still plenty of clean tables that have small flower vases on them. Your mouth starts watering as soon as you read the menu because all of the sandwiches sound so delicious! The smiling, friendly person working behind the counter tells you that today's homemade soup special won an award last month for the best soup in the city. You order a cup with your sandwich. You even put a little something in the tip jar before going to your table.

    Now think about your website again. Is it more like the first sandwich shop or the latter? Does it make site visitors want to stay and learn more about your business? Does it entice them to buy something from you?

    Not all business websites need to have award winning design and every function imaginable to be effective. However, it's important to have crisp, clean graphics and design the layout so that your potential customers can find the information they need to know about your business. If you sell directly from your site, make sure that your e-commerce feature is easy for your customers to use. Are you products and services described in detail? Do you have photos or video to show exactly what your customers will receive if they order from your site? Make sure you clearly state any of your return policies or guarantees that will make customers more at ease with their order.

    If your business is a service such as a CPA firm, how does your website reflect your company? Would YOU do business with you after looking at your website? If not, what needs to change? I'll often see professional services sites that have only basic information, maybe a mission statement, and a Contact Us form. Your website is your opportunity to exhibit your expertise and differentiate your business from your competition. If you are a professional services company, you should have a blog on the site and write something to help your client base on a weekly basis (at a minimum). Have a page that displays testimonial letters from your clients or photos of projects you've worked on. Is there information that would help your clients that not everyone knows? It might be basic information to you - after all, you are the professional in your industry. Prove it!

    Although there are many elements to successful web design and development, here are 5 things every business website needs to be effective:

    1. Good Design - Clean, easy to read content and graphics.

    2. Meaningful Content - Explain clearly why someone should do business with you. If necessary hire a professional writer who understands how to write effective web content. This is especially important when you are optimizing your website so the search engines will see it.

    3. Ongoing Communication - always be inviting site visitors to contact you via a Contact Us form or phone number listed on your site. Blog regularly so that you are constantly adding new content and valuable information for your visitors.

    4. Clear Examples - Show your products with photos or videos; post case studies and testimonials

    5. Special Offers and Promotions - Highlight special offers, whether it's free shipping for a certain time period or a free initial consultation

    After reading this, go to your website and ask yourself, "Would I buy from this company?" If necessary, ask someone you trust will give you some honest feedback. No website is 100% perfect - there is always something to change and improve. But, make sure your business looks as attractive as possible to your visitors so they will make a decision to buy from you, recommend it to others and become repeat customers.

    To see the original list of 12 Strategies to Improve Your Sales & Marketing, just read this.

    Suzanne Foley is the Vice President of The Surfside Group (http://www.SurfsideGroup.com), a Sales, Marketing and Internet Strategies Agency based in Atlanta, GA. Since 1997, The Surfside Group has helped our Clients grow their businesses by creating successful programs using proven sales and marketing fundamentals ("Sales/Marketing 101") combined with intelligent, results-oriented Internet strategies. We look forward to answering any questions you have about how to boost your sales & marketing results.

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