What is the first thing you should do to improve your online business?
So many times I am asked what needs to be done to get more customers? How do I get a higher ranking on Google? For many of these businesses fine tuning will help and having this approach How Do I Improve my website ranking? But for the majority, your business and website needs the basics looked at and fixed first.
It probably isn’t even, I need more customers. We are looking for specifics. Here are some examples.
a. From October to January my business enquiries drop off to almost none. I would like to have at least 5 business leads a month.
b. I am spending 4 hours a day answering questions about my business but none of these seem to turn into sales. I would like to automate this.
c. I seem to have a lot of traffic on my website but I have no idea if they are potential customers. I would like to track these customers and find out more about them.
You see how this is going? More customers and Google ranking are only symptoms of the problem, we are looking for root causes.
Ok, now that we know the thing that is keeping you up at night, what’s next?
Let’s look at the scenarios above and throw out a few ideas of what you might do.
a. So the winter is slow?? This is the time to engage with your current customers. Whatever your business you could do a follow up during this time. A simply hello to them asking them if they are still getting use of or positive results from what they purchased from you. Give them some helpful information related to this as well. And definitely ask if there is anything that they had questions or problems with, and offer to help. (BTW, this is an excellent strategy to keep up with all year round.)
Another option is to create a landing page for winter services. How can your business uniquely help someone in the winter months. Taking the time to create a message that is specific to your customer and THEIR pain points at this time of year will set you apart from 99% of your competition.
b. If you are spending time talking but not selling, it’s time to review your message. Is your website shouting to the world what you do? Is it a bit wishy washy, or so broad that it could mean anything to anyone? It is sometimes hard to evaluate your business message when you are the one closest to it, so ask a few people unrelated to the business what they think you do. There is some great advice in this post, My Grandma hates my website!
Do you have a way for potential customers to contact you on your website? Not just your bog standard contact form, but something that can dig a little deeper and see if they might fit your business. Asking a few leading questions could be just the thing to weed out people that wouldn’t be interested in what you do.
c. Ok, its time to engage with your site visitors more. Would your customers benefit from some free information from you? Could you package up some of the best advice you have and offer it to them? This is your classic opt in form. They give you their email address and you give them some really helpful information. Doing this will start weeding through those visitors.
Make sure you are using Google Analytics. This will quickly tell you where your visitors are exiting from your site. Spending just a little time looking at this detail could show you that people are looking for an answer to x, but you never quite give it. This is another place where creating a specific landing page shouting a very specific message, will help get the right customers. To find out if these visitors are the right fit, give them an opportunity on your landing page to ask a question. Say you’d love to be able to help them achieve x more. Then over time change/tweak your message to find out which one get’s the most feedback.
One of the biggest oversights I see with small business websites is not studying the general processes of what they are doing. There is this feeling that getting your website online and having it look pretty darn good is all you need. Customers will magically appear and everything will run smoothly.
Most of the time it is quickly apparent that something was overlooked.
a. How are you going to manage what your website is doing?
You may now be receiving lots of emails from your contact form. How are you going to keep them organised? Do you need to taking bookings in your business? Why or why aren’t you doing that on your site? What about payments? Are you still trying to get everyone to transfer money directly to your bank account?
None of these things should be slowing down your business. Everyone of them is very easy to build into your site. They are huge time savers, and as an added benefit, creating the system on your website gives you an organised long term tracking of what your business is doing.
b. Does you website have a clear goal, a funnel for your visitors, essentially how do you engage your customers through your site?
If I take things back to my engineering days, the way we explore this is with a process map. It is as simple as writing some words on a piece of paper with some arrows pointing to new words. Nothing more complicated then this. What you are trying to figure out is if the process makes sense to you and your customers. Is the flow across our site bringing customers to where you want them? I did a really quick version of this on my own site today to prove this point, and immediately I saw something that I was missing. I was leading visitors to my projects/case studies, then making them search for and decide how to contact me.
You can see in the below example how a simple map of what is happening on your site can lead to a very good improvement.
These 3 questions are a great start to improving your business.