I often hear people say “my website doesn’t work how I expected”. Well the question I ask is “what exactly were you expecting of your website”. For our small and medium business customers the answer is, most often, “to generate sales or leads”. So what are the most common reasons why your website might not be living up to expectations? And how can you get the most out of it?

Too often websites are looked at as being a large, expensive money pit. Well the truth is they are just as valuable as your staff, and one of your greatest assets – if you treat them right. So if you can for a moment change the way you think of your website, we can start to look at how to get the return on investment or ROI that you have been expecting. That’s the first step to getting the most out of your website – give it the appreciation it deserves.

The biggest misconception I come across is that it is too expensive to engage a professional agency or studio. I hear a lot of  “I will just get my cousin’s best mate’s uncle’s friend to build it for me. He’s quite good with computers”.  Well that’s just asking for trouble! And the truth is that most agencies will cater for all budgets.

If they are anything like us at Scribblevision, they’ll appreciate the importance of businesses large and small and have the capacity to cater for budgets great and small as well. So do your homework – we find that much of the time the business owners who have issues with their websites are those who are uninformed, misinformed or have ignored the advice of their agency or developer. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, there’s hope!

Imagine for a moment if you will that your domain name, ie: www.scribblevision.com.au and your hosting (where your website files are located) is in fact your digital shopfront. Compare this to your bricks and mortar or physical shop. In this instance that’s a rather cheap shop that will see a phenomenal amount more traffic than your actual physical shop.

Now the website itself contains information that should be specifically tailored to your customer catch or targeted market. This wealth of knowledge and targeted call to actions make your website one of your most valuable employees – your digital staff member, if you like! Now think about how much you might be paying your most valued employee over a period of two years and all of a sudden your website is the most cost-effective sales rep, support person and information guru you could ever ask for, right?

OK, so you have got all that, but you’re still not getting leads? Well let’s look at the marketing component. You already have a marketing strategy to tell people about your business, or rely on word of mouth. Either way, to actively run a successful business you need to let people know about your amazing product or service. Your website is no different! It is not enough to rely on an amazing website, you must put it right in front of your potential customers. Imagine if you opened up shop and didn’t put up signage and told no-one about it. You couldn’t expect to magically make sales. You need to include this spend in your annual marketing budget.

There are a number of options for effective digital marketing and the beautiful thing is you can track and analyse every part of it. This is the absolute power of digital marketing – you can determine what is and what isn’t working. You can target your audience right down to age group, sex and even the type of device they use, offering a huge insight to the type of customer you need to attract and turn your underperforming website into a valuable team member that is working the digital shopfront to its full potential.

What do you do next? Well like anything in your business, when you invest in it and it creates a return then you increase your investment to grow your return.

All of a sudden with this simple yet effective ethos you can start to have a more clear expectation for your return on investment. In effect there are three key areas to a successful website:

  1. Make sure you have a professionally developed, device-ready website (works on all devices, be it desktop or mobile) that represents the quality of your business, – after all you wouldn’t get your mother-in-law’s cousin’s son to come build and fit out your shop.
  2. Make sure you have great content updated regularly that supports your amazing product, this includes easy-to-get-to information, great photography and clear calls to action. Make it easy for people to get in touch. And …
  3. Market the website, tell everyone everywhere, using social media, word of mouth, print, radio, TV and online digital marketing opportunities.

After more than 15 years of industry experience, it is my opinion that these three simple and easy-to-follow guidelines can reduce the difference between expectations and results. After all, if you have a business website, it should be working for you, not against you.

TIP: YouTube is one of the fastest growing social platforms for Australian business. If you have a passion for what you do get it on video and share it with the world!

NOTE: This article was published in the December 2015 – January 2016 Oi magazine issue.

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