A report came out recently about how small & medium sized business (SMBs) owners intend to invest their digital marketing dollars in 2015. When asked which marketing channel they intend to increase investments, 49% said their websites, 6 percentage points ahead of any other digital marketing channel.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to develop a new website. In most cases SMBs would get a better ROI by simply improving their existing website. With a good deal of investment headed to websites, how should SMB’s apply those dollars to increase their leads and sales?
Based on our experience working with hundreds of SMBs and their digital marketing efforts to grow their businesses, we recommend dollars invested in websites be spent in the following 6 ways:
1. Go mobile
In February Google announced “we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal”, which likely means websites that are not mobile-friendly will not be rewarded – penalized compared to mobile-friendly websites. So, if online visibility is important to you, and it probably should be, a priority may be investing to make your website mobile-friendly.
The best approach to mobile-friendliness is to transform your current website into a mobile-responsive one. The benefits of mobile-responsive are 1) you only need to maintain one website, 2) the site automatically adjusts itself based on the device (smart-phone, tablet, desktop, etc.) used to access it, and 3) when you make changes to your regular website, the mobile site automatically updates as well.
2. Do some user-testing
Having done hundreds of user tests on websites, we continue to be amazed at what we learn about what visitors value and website usability principles. No matter how good you think your website is or how many people make positive comments, user testing done well will reveal opportunities to improve how your website engages your visitors.
Upon doing user testing, determine what changes will give you the best return toward increasing leads and sales generation, and begin the process of making the improvements.
3. Speed is important
Does your website load up as fast as a racehorse, or more like a turtle? Not sure, test it at http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/. Google considers “page speed” a ranking factor, and tests indicate an improvement in site speed can increase conversions. It is also important to note that every unique web-page may load at different speeds - so test your site's home page as well as the key landing pages.
If you discover that your pages load in less than 2 seconds, your site is as fast or faster than the majority of websites, and Google would consider that a positive attribute for your site.
If your website loads more slowly, it may mean you need to reduce the total file size of the page you tested. For those of you who are less technical, file size is the combination of all the images, words, files, links and programming code that comprises a web-page. Another valuable tool for evaluating page speed is Google's PageSpeed Insights. This tool provides custom suggestions for your site and a wealth of documentation on how to improve you site's speed.
4. Make it interactive
When someone comes to your website can they interact with you? Depending on your type of business, website interactions might include, but aren’t limited to…
- Schedule a service
- Request a quote
- Sign up for a newsletter or blog feed
- Download a valuable piece of content
- Take a survey or poll
- Participate in a live chat
These are all ways in which a website visitor can interact with you and may also represent methods for generating sales leads.
5. Keep it fresh
Ever go to a website and the last blog post or posted event was a year ago? Sites like that lose credibility in the eyes of the beholder. Website owners should consider investing in content.
Whether the content comes in the form of a blog post, helpful articles, downloadable e-books and reports or the like, a business benefits from more content in a couple of very powerful ways. First, good content enhances your credibility and gives you a competitive difference because your visitors find your site informative and helpful. Second, Google loves good, relevant content and will likely reward your site with higher rankings.
6. Add landing pages
As stated earlier, it often times isn't necessary to invest dollars to develop a new website. Instead, create some very good landing pages that explain unique services and products. Also, add some landing pages in which your targeted audience can download valuable content - this can be used as a lead generator. Don't do an email marketing campaign or paid search campaign without including a highly relevant, simple landing page that converts the visitor to the desired action.
In summary, as SMBs invest more in websites, it doesn’t mean you should replace your site. Rather, it may be more cost-effective to work with what you have. Investments to make your website mobile-friendly have become critical. Conducting user testing will reveal how you can better serve your customers online. Making sure your website loads quickly may improve conversions. As a potential strategy to increase lead generation through your website, give your website visitors the opportunity to interact with you. As a means to stay relevant and improve your search rankings, keep the content on the site updated and contemporary. Finally, use product, service and content specific landing pages to help convert your website visitors to leads and sales.
One last point…a great website that no one sees won’t do much for you. Digital marketing investments that get more relevant visitors to your website along with ongoing lead nurturing activities can’t be forgotten in your formula for online success.