In today’s world, if a business does not have a website, they are already behind the curve against their competition. Statistics have shown that better than 85 percent of consumers are searching for and comparing local businesses online. This means that a business without a website is missing out on a huge chunk of potential sales — just because they do not have a website!
With this statistic in mind, it is crucial that your business has a website. However, just throwing up any old website with some graphics, links, and text that describes your business is not enough, either. Having a terrible or ineffectively designed website can be just as bad (if not worse) than not having a website at all. Market research has determined that 45 percent of visitors stop engaging with a website if the imagery, colors, and layout are not appealing, or if the site is difficult to navigate or has no real “flow”.
Because of the large number of internet users that browse the web from their mobile phones, a website also needs to be responsive to virtually any screen size — from a hand-held mobile phone all the way up to a 4K high-definition resolution. If your website is not responsive, you are losing credibility with over half of your visitors, who may be leaving your site for a competitor’s site that is mobile-friendly — which potentially costs you sales. The same research and market studies have proven that roughly 50 percent of mobile visitors believe that if a website is not accessible AND mobile responsive, the business simply does not care, and they may decide to look elsewhere before opening their wallets. In fact, a lot of consumers judge the reputation and trustworthiness of a business by their online presence alone.
Your online presence is just as important as your physical business presence — especially in a post — COVID-19 world. In a typical year, close to 25 percent of all disposable income world-wide is spent online. Thanks to COVID-19, that number has close to doubled — meaning that more than half of consumers visited businesses via their websites and made purchases online.
When you consider the information above, you may be wondering exactly what you need to do to make your business’s online presence shine and help you stand above the competition. Aside from being accessible and mobile-responsive, what should your website include in order to show your visitors that you care, and that they can trust you enough to give you their hard-earned money in exchange for your service or product?
Here are five critical must-haves for any business website, in order to help you grow your online traffic and increase your sales:
1. A strong header — When a visitor comes to your website, they are quickly going to make assumptions and judgements of your business based on your site. Most visitors will not scroll past a website’s “fold” — which is the top part of the website that is visible to the viewer without them having to scroll. On your website, you have five seconds to engage your visitors and tell them what they want to know.
Your header should effectively describe what you do- the main service or product that you offer. You also want to include a value proposition — essentially, “what is in it for me”, for your visitors. Show them the benefits that they will get should they decide to work with you or purchase your service or product.
2. A powerful Call-to-Action — Along with telling visitors exactly what you offer and how they can benefit, you also want to tell them exactly what you want them to do on your site. Do you want them to purchase your product or service? Should they learn more about your business or service? Should they subscribe to your email list?
A powerful call-to-action (also known as a CTA) is essential, and it needs to be visible in the “top fold” section of your site. Typically, CTAs come in the form of a button that users click that directs them to the next step they should take in the process, or it can be a form that prompts users for their email address. The CTA will typically be located right below your site’s header and sub-heading.
3. Social Proof — The visitors that do stick around on your site and decide to scroll past the top half of your home page are interested in your business or services and are looking for more information about your business and why they should trust you. Having social proof that you can be trusted as an expert in your field is important, in order to gain a rapport with these visitors.
Social proof comes in many forms. The most common type of social proof are testimonials and reviews from previous clients that you have worked with. When a visitor sees that you have worked with other, real-life clients and have helped others in their industry fulfill their needs, it gives visitors a sense of relief and reassurance that you are a legitimate business and that you can be trusted to solve the visitor’s problem or fulfil their need.
One thing to be mindful of, however, is that you do not want to “make up” client reviews and testimonies just for the sake of making yourself look established and credible. If your visitors do find out that this is the case, you will lose any credibility that you have built with them and they will take their business to someone else that they know they can trust. It is always good to include a picture with testimonials, as well as a company name and job title to put a face to the name and assure visitors that these are real people. If possible, try to get video reviews as well.
Other forms of social proof include any awards, special licensing, and accolades that you or your business has received and that you can share on your site. If possible, share information that visitors can use to verify the validity and truthiness of these awards and accomplishments. And, while it is good to have some awards and accomplishments listed, do not overdo it. Limit the number of awards to avoid “bragging” too much about your business. Also, having your social proof strategically placed throughout the other information of your site (such as adding a testimonial to your Contact page, or showing some of your accomplishments and recognition on your about page) will help to instill trust in your visitors as they continue to browse your site.
4. A reason to take action — More than likely, your visitors are viewing their site because they want to know why they should choose to work with you. In reality, while social proof is great and it’s good to show that you know what you are talking about, potential clients do not care about your story or the story of your business as much as what is in it for them, should they decide to work with you. Your site should be focused on what they will gain or get from clicking on your call to action — and they should be reassured of this as they continue to follow your funnel to the final step.
5. Overview of Your Business — Your website is the face of your business — at least online. Your visitors are coming to your site to learn about your company, what you do, and how you can help them. While you want the focus of the site to be on showing visitors why they should hire you, you also want to give them the information that they need to fully understand your business, your product or service, and even your story. This adds to the trust that you are building with your visitors, as it allows them to learn about your business’s standards and values, and it adds that personal connection to the visitor.
Including an about section that tells a little bit about your business, how long you have been in business, how and when you started, and a few things that you have done is a great way to show visitors that your business cares and that it has credibility. It also helps to include names and pictures of a few key members of your team, and to give a brief description of their role and their personal story. This adds the “human” factor into the business, and helps potential customers realize that your business is made up of real people who care and who want to serve needs, just like them.
All the items listed above are the most critical things to include on your business website. Together with a modern, sleek, and custom design that is tailored to your business and is responsive to mobile devices, your website can and will achieve higher rankings on search engines and will receive more organic traffic, which will also lead to higher conversions.
Making your website a major key in your marketing plan is one of the best decisions that you can make to help boost your sales. In fact, your website should be the forefront to your digital marketing plan, and should reflect the personality, theme, and values that you want your business to convey. Add in social media marketing that connects with visitors and draws them to your site, and you should see an increase in traffic and conversions, just by investing in a professional quality website.