Your website should be the online version of your corporate office and your brick and mortar store.
It’s the first point of contact for your potential customers and a place where returning clients should feel welcome. Your website should greet new visitors with information that allows them to make an educated purchase and help to convert those that are interested into customers or clients. If it’s not doing these things then you are losing money in your investment and it may be time for a redesign.
Regulary Updated Content
The term may sound scary and it may seem like a lot of work but it really is easier than you think. Content is what people are coming to your site to see and it goes beyond writing long articles. As a creative entrepreneur your content should be centered around your craft. Here are a few examples of what you could add to your website:
- A Blog – Blogging gives your brand a voice and brings your company to life. It also is the most effective platform for generating leads and driving traffic to and from social media. The key is to post relevant content regularly so that you can start to rank high on Google. It’s the most effective way to get free traffic to your website.
- Portfolio – If you are a photographer, videographer, painter, designer, etc., you don’t necessarily need a blog. Your message is communicated through visuals so it is important to regularly post your work on your website so that you can develop a loyal following. Most importantly, showcasing your work online gives you the opportunity to sell directly from the site.
- Forum – A forum or message board can be a gold mine if it works for your industry. It’s a great way to engage with your page visitors and create a community around your brand. You want people to have a reason to come back and this is a great way to give them that. A forum also an opportunity to educate your audience and that is a great leverage point for your business.
Mobile Friendly Design
We are living in an age where instant results are expected. With practically everyone under the age of 65 owning multiple devices connected to the internet, your business needs to be accessible and presentable across all platforms. Combine that with the fact that most Google searches are done from a mobile phone and you can see why not having a mobile responsive website is like neglecting over half of the population. Here are some things that you can do help optimize your website for mobile environments:
- Get rid of flash – If you have Flash on your website, you’ve most likely given me or someone else a headache. Flash graphics do not show up on most mobile phones, especially iPhones. If you have audio or video content on your website make sure that you are embedding HTML5 players. The last thing you want is for your website to show up and there’s a big puzzle piece in the middle of the screen!! This isn’t that much of a problem, as designers generally don’t use Flash anymore but I still get those errors from time to time.
- Optimize your photos and graphics – Optimizing your photos is important for load time as well as SEO. The faster your page loads the less likely people are going to hit the ‘back’ button and bounce. Make sure your photos are small enough in size and good enough in quality so that you give a great first impression.
Like I’ve said before, a website is an investment. It’s a tool that should be used to grow your business and help to automate your marketing processes. A lot of what I see online are what I consider very expensive business cards; some information about the company, a picture or two and a contact us page. But every website should have a system in place to capture information about visitors and filter the potential buyers out of them. Here are a few ways that you can use your website to generate leads:
- Some form of a Contact Us page – I’d like to say that this is self explanatory but you’d be surprised. The most important part of your website is a page where people can make a physical connection with you. It’s also key for generating leads because it allows visitors to reach out to you for a sales-neutral sort of engagement. Your ‘business card page’ should answer the following questions:
- Where are you?
- How can we contact you?
- When can we contact you?
- Who should we contact?
- Booking – If you are in an appointment or show based industry, implementing some sort of booking system on your website can save you a lot of time and hassle. You want people to see when you you’ve blocked out your schedule and make appointments on their own.
- Email Optin – Email marketing as I’m sure you’ve heard before is vital to any business. Really it’s just having some sort of list of potential and current clients, customers and fans. Your website should be your main tool for acquiring these emails. You can’t just ask for it though. You have to offer something for free (and of high value) to your audience in return for their sacred email address. I would need an entire course to go over best practices for this but just know that it’s important that you have some way of getting them.
Social Media Integration
Social media is great for engaging people all over the planet with your brand or business. For you as a creative entrepreneur it’s the perfect tool to leverage your website. Here are a few ways to get traffic to your website with social media:
- Social media feeds – Having some sort of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed on your website is a way of having a consistent stream of updated content. Also it helps you to gain followers, even if the person isn’t making any purchases or signing up for your list.
- Likable and sharable content – You never know what could catch on make sure that everything that you past has a way for people to share with their friends. It’s actually vital that you encourage them to. If your content is great, people will share it. If it’s really great it will go viral.
- Links to all active social media pages – You website should have links to all of your active social media profiles. Some of your visitors may be active on Pinterest. Some are actively on Instagram only. Display all of your ACTIVE profiles only. If you haven’t tweeted in 89 days or if you have an egg as your profile picture you don’t need to put that out there.
- Scheduled social posts – The best thing about publishing to your blog is that it’s there for as long as you need it to be. And no matter how long ago you posted the content, it will be new to someone reading it for the first time. Scheduling your blog posts to be posted or social media accounts with a scheduler app (Tweetdeck, Buffer and Hootsuite are great) throughout the day or weekly for example can drive a lot of additional traffic back to your site.
Traffic is the blood of a website. Money is the blood of a business. In order for you to convert that traffic in to money on a consistent basis you have to know what that traffic is doing on your website. I use Google Analytics for this and it tracks all kinds of visitor data, from demographics to average time on pages. Here are a couple of ways to use Google Analytics to make your website an efficient marketing tool:
- Page by page analytics – Imagine that you own a small local grocery store. Over time you notice that half of your customers buy chips. You also noticed that people often go to the chip section and then leave the store after you’ve run out. You need to know that about your website. Where are they going, from what pages are they leaving from and how can I improve that page to keep them there?
- Heatmaps – Heatmaps are also important and they’re easy to add to your website (see bonus below). They tell you where people are clicking on your pages so you can trace where their eyes go before they take action. Based on where they are looking you can place certain important elements like opt-on forms and banner ads in areas where you know your visitors are looking.