Your website is the most important marketing tool your business will have in 2018.
Today, the internet is far more important than tradition marketing. Recent research is even showing that word of mouth referrals have become less important as well. People are able to "see for themselves" and do additional research on the internet to find the product or service that is right for them.
You already know that your website is an important marketing tool - but it is likely even more important than you realize. And it will become even more so as the years go on.
Today, a website can make or break your business. And I see it all the time. Businesses with poor websites are more likely to fail. And businesses with strong websites are more likely to succeed. And that is because it is the most important sales tool your business has in 2018.
Since 2010, I have helped over 600 businesses develop websites. Back then, you could get away with a poorly designed website, because it wasn't quite as important as it is now.
After seeing what the most successful businesses and least successful businesses do with their website & online marketing, here are the 5 biggest mistakes business owners make when building their website:
1. Choosing A Platform That Is Too Complex To Manage
I've heard of this from hundreds of clients and also prospective clients who end up not working with me because I do not work with WordPress. Non web-experts, website developers, and people on the street know that WordPress is the biggest and most popular web platform to use. Second is Shopify. The problem with these platforms is that they require tens of thousands of dollars per year to work properly. Not only in the set-up costs, but even more so for maintenance costs. They are so code-heavy, that in order to fully use the website, a web developer must constantly be involved, which sucks thousands of dollars per year (sometimes tens of thousands) out of your business. I see this all the time, and it's not fun for the business owner. Custom WordPress & Shopify websites only make sense for very large companies with very large budgets. For everyone else, Squarespace is the best web platform. I don't get anything out of promoting their platform. I have just seen hundreds of businesses thrive with Squarespace, because their costs are lower, they can manage the majority of the site on their own and the website stays up-to-date with the best technology on its own. These are the reasons I decided about 2 years ago to exclusively work with Squarespace. It's the right move for small businesses, and I will no longer touch WordPress or Shopify.
2. Building A Website With No "Call To Action"
Without driving people to take some sort of action on your website, your website then becomes a dead-end. If someone comes to your website and says "What should I do now?" with no clear way to take the next step, the your website has become a waste of money for your business. There are 2 kinds of "Calls to Action." One is a "Soft Lead," and the other is a "Hard Lead." A "Soft Lead" invites users to learn more and initiate in the process to learn about your brand over time, such as an email newsletter, a free online course, or a PDF pricing sheet download. A "Hard Lead" is typically when someone is ready to make the jump towards making a purchase very soon. For instance "Buy Now" or "Get Started Now" are hard leads, because they are geared toward the client or customer who is very close to making a decision. They just need you to give them the right place to jump into. If your "Calls To Action" are vague or nonexistent, you will have a severely ineffective website.
3. Building A Website That Does Not Capture Email Addresses
The most important ongoing marketing tool you have is email marketing. While about 50% of Americans have a Facebook account, and about 25% of Americans have an Instagram account - about 90% of Americans use email. What's more is that people who use email are more intention about their decisions, while Social Media users are often using the platforms for social means, and not productive means. Yet most business owners are tempted to use Social Media and not Email Marketing for their business. Even today, the most effective marketing you can use for your business is Email Marketing. Typically, you collect emails from "Soft Leads" on your website as well as the "Hard Leads" - and if you are not collecting emails or sending our email marketing on a weekly basis, your business will stagnate. Most of my Clients do not use email for fear of the time commitment or not knowing what to say. But I believe you should be afraid of not using email marketing, for the sake of your business.
4. Building A Website With No Blog, SEO or Value-Added System
As soon as you become an expert in your field, you should be blogging on your website. That is because the majority of people looking for products or services do their homework to become educated, typically through Google Searches. People want to look at reviews, to learn about something - at least mildly learn the basics - and weigh their options. Creating an ongoing blog each week will establish you as an expert. Your posts will also be picked up by Google. And when you post valuable knowledge about your industry to help people's lives become better, people will trust your brand more than other brands. Starting a blog right away isn't always the easiest thing to do for business owners, but the long-term benefits are impressive. For my own websites, and for my clients that blog, the weekly or daily work can result in thousands of views per month to your website to ensure your business will be sustainable for many years to come.
5. Not Channeling Online Marketing Towards Your Website
Finally, if no one goes to your website - then your website sits dead with no value a all. Email Marketing and SEO are basic building blocks to build sustainable ongoing marketing on your website. But having other third-party websites bring traffic to you is also crucial to build sustainability online. My personal favorites for online marketing are Yelp and Google Business - which are business-oriented platforms and are free to set up. The final stage of marketing for your business should be paid advertising like Facebook Ads & Google Ads. Online ads can cost hundreds of dollars per month and take about 30 days to optimize, so it's not typically my favorite to start out with. But once your website is up and running, and working properly by collecting Leads and Email Addresses, Blogging & SEO integration - your final investment into Online Advertising will be worth it when all the other pieces of your website are already in place.
These are the 5 major areas that business owners fail to think about. Often times, business owners are given opinions by non-website experts, especially when it comes to which platform to use. But focusing on these 5 areas will only bring your business stability in the coming years. As retail stores and malls close across the United States and the world, your website is now your true "storefront" that you should work hard to make sure it is never torn down.