5 tips for creating a more engaging small business website

SMB websites can help drive business
SMB websites can help drive business

A website is a necessity for any business. It puts your product or service potentially at the fingertips of anyone across the globe, extends your brand, and authenticates your business. Many businesses invest a considerable amount of time and energy into building a website that, while pleasant to look at and promoted on search engines, social networks and through advertising, they don’t achieve the number one goal of a website - attract and obtain new customers.

Building a great looking website that works for you doesn’t have to be complicated. There are few tricks of the trade to keep in mind when creating your website so customers keep coming back for more. Start with the overall website structure, the images and content and, most importantly, the call to action elements.

If potential clients visit your website and are not sure whether they want to contact you, they need an incentive or a gentle push from you to engage. Therefore, optimizing your site for client engagement is key to generating new business. Here a few tips to keep in mind when building out a client-centric site:

Create an engaging structure. For a website to be engaging and easy to navigate, it must be well organized. A well-structured website will enhance the flow of information and help in client conversion.

Be concise. A rule of thumb to remember when building your homepage is that it should not contain more than 400 words of text. Website visitors often browse the homepage and in just a few seconds, they decide whether to continue on or leave. Most won’t even scroll down past the first screen of information. So your goal should be to provide a concise overview of what you do and offer. It doesn’t hurt to include an eye catching header or logo as this is the first image seen by visitors and it needs to make a lasting impression. But most importantly, create a balance between text and images.

Minimize options. The more navigation options and links you add, the sooner you will lose the potential client. Kathryn Booth Trainor, owner and a web designer at SparkItNetwork.com, says you should “decide what the next step you’d want a new client to take after they learn about your services and focus on that on your homepage. Only then, add additional pages and keep them to the minimum necessary for the potential client to learn more about your business. Don’t leave it to the client to choose between several menus and links as they are likely to leave on the most irrelevant page.”

Don’t forget mobile. People do more on their phone than ever before. “Most new website tools ensure your site reads well on a mobile device or tablet. If you have an older website, make sure your contact info is clearly available, as that’s the most important piece of information that you want visible for your customer, “said Mickey Hayes, Owner of One World Computing Concepts.

Encourage visitor engagement. Every website should have an effective call to action. This is an element on a website that interrupts the visitor’s experience to encourage an action you want them to perform.

Don’t hide your physical address and phone number on a Contact Us page, or only available from a link at your website footer. Make sure your contact information is at the top of every page of your site.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants to have a live phone conversation. Typically, once you publish your email address on your site, the spam will soon follow. But a contact form is a great solution for clients to send you a message. Be aware though, many forms can be cumbersome and take a lot of space, which is why businesses tend to “hide” them on a contact us page. Fight this urge. Instead, use a contact form that can fit on every page of your site, encouraging those who are trying to reach you.

Some businesses deploy a chat tool, where a visitor can type messages and instantly receive a response from a representative. Chat can be a great solution if the business has the right resources in place. With chat, the client expects to receive an immediate response, meaning someone from your business would need to be available to respond in real time and after-hours. Most small businesses can’t afford to support chat and end up outsourcing the function, which can lead to a frustrating client experience. In this case, finding a tool that can accommodate this is key.

Lastly, don’t forget returning clients. Your website should offer them an experience that is as personalized as possible. New clients are great, but existing clients should always come first. Some businesses offer a client section or a client portal where they can review invoices, pay online, share documents, and schedule appointments. A great service experience will have them returning again and again.

It takes thoughtful planning to create a successful, engaging website so take time with the design, navigation and content, and include call to action elements to motivate the visitor to engage. With smart writing, good images and a well-planned navigation as well as providing well placed calls to actions, your website can engage visitors, driving new business opportunities and delivering amazing customer service.

  • Ran Oelgiesser is CMO at vCita