So you think you want to start a website, either selling products or services, but don’t know where to start? Here are the four basic components that I have found to ring true for website success no matter what the products or services being sold.
The most obvious, but probably the most overlooked, component of a successful website is its content. Since you want visitors to get the maximum amount of information about your website, in as little time as possible, make sure that all content on your website is relevant. A good way to check the quality of your content, prior to putting on your website, is to brainstorm. When brainstorming, grab a pen and pad, and for each tab or section, write down every possible thing you can think of that you want your intended audience to know if they were to enter that area of your website. Once you have completed this exercise, walk away. You need to separate yourself from everything that you have written down for a while. A couple hours, days, or weeks later (however long it takes you to complete the first portion of the exercise), go back through everything you have written, and look at it again with fresh eyes. Proofread and see what material is relevant and eliminate any material that is just “fluff”.
This is the first thing that visitors actually see when they come to your website, the initial thing that grabs their attention. The importance of images is huge to your website. A great place to start is on popular search engines, looking for royalty-free images. These are the types of images that you can use for free, or pay a small fee and be able to use them on any material you please. A great website to try also is http://www.istockphotos.com
Now that you have your content and images for your website organized, you now need to advertise to get the customers you want. You are probably saying, “Advertising is so expensive, how in the world do I successfully do that?”. Answer: THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Free online newsletters, free forums, local newspapers, and flyers are just some of the ways you can advertise. Just think of, and actively pursue, methods of advertising that both fit your budget and showcase your products and services to the intended audience in the manner you want it presented. Go ahead, be creative!
So, you have setup your website and successfully brought in customers. Now what? Now you need to manage, if you want to keep the customers you have and get free advertising also, be a great manager of your website and products or services. Customers will want to continue to do business with, and tell others about, a website that has impeccable customer service. Ways to have great customer service include:
a. Responding to e-mails (or phone calls) promptly and over answering customer inquiries.
-This means not only answer your customer in a timely manner (within 3 days), but provide free advice or extra resources to solve their problem.
For example, if you own and online store selling clothes and a customer has an issue with knowing their size in the brands that you sell, offer to send the product to the client free of charge for shipping & handling. In addition, contact that customer to see if the product was received and is satisfactory, and also suggest other online stores that might have great accessories to go with their purchase. You see, you have done several things to advance your esteem in your customer’s eyes. You resolved their problem, made sure that they were satisfied, and helped them find other items they might love. This client will no doubt come back to your website again and tell everyone they know to shop there also.
b. Adopt an “in-person” presence, to give your customers the ultimate online experience.
-Your customer gets online convenience, and in-person service. A great way to do this is subscribe to a service like Live Person (there packages start at only $90 per month) so, when time permits, you can log on to your website and your customers can get on-the-spot customer service. This is a very valuable service that customers will be thrilled to tell others that your website offers.
c. Be Honest
-Honesty can get and keep more clients, by you being very honest about what your products and/or services can do or cannot do.
d. Be open
-Encourage customer feedback. By doing this, customers will tell you what they want out of your website that you are not currently offering, what they love about your website, and features of your website they perceive as not so great.
These are the four basic components to building a successful website no matter the business, product, service, or industry. I know if you will follow these steps and invest a little time, you will have positive results!