I was recently asked to give some advice to a friend who wanted to have a web designer design her website. My friend runs a salon and she was one of those people who knew that she needed a website but didn't know about the business...
She had no idea what Web Designers charge, she didn't know how her website would work for her, she hadn't thought about what content she was going to put there, she just knew it was 2010 and every small business needs a website. Well, it was time to teach her a couple of things as a favour and help her with her strategy for her website.
I went through 5 strategies with her when I explained the opportunities with a website:
Goal 1: Selling OnlineThe most well known goal for eCommerce Businesses where you're looking for an extra channel to sell your products and services.
Strategy: To reach sales targets and reduce shopping cart abandons, you'll need to focus on an all-in-one eCommerce site complete with catalogs, products, shopping cart, shipping and a payment gateway and that provides an interesting and seamless shopping experience. Don't forget to add extras like upselling, recommended products, product galleries and plenty of credible product information to help meet your sales and orders targets.
But what happens when you can't sell online because what you sell is a physical service or you're not running a for-profit business? There's 4 other goals you can set for your Online Business to get return on investment...
Goal 2: Build Your CommunityThis goal applies particularly well to non-profit organizations like Churches, local Neighborhood organizations, Community organizations, Charities etc - they need to have online conversations/discussions with their current members and attract new ones.
Strategy: To build an online community, you'd need to nurture a social site with a discussion forum and post regular news on a blog to keep visitors coming back. Make a space for photo-uploads to show what's going on in your community, post podcasts of speeches or presentations for your visitors to download in a members-only area. Make sure members know about your site and that they contribute as well!
Goal 3: Automate Your Customer ServiceAre you spending a large part of your day getting interrupted by customer care phone calls instead of working on your business? You need an eCommerce Business to be automating some of that for you.
Strategy: Some simple ways to to build a online self-help portal you would be to build a highly customized webform that qualifies your customers requests before they reach you. It would be good to focus on publishing a well organized FAQ page and direct customers to how-to and do-it-yourself articles on your site that you've published before they ask for live help. Not only is this good for your customers but it's good for search-engine optimization too!!
Goal 4: Generate New LeadsIf you're a business that's selling high-value high-margin products (especially in the B2B arena) and you're having a tough time with the cold-calling and outbound marketing then you need your Online Business to be generating leads.
Strategy: A bit like automating customer service, you'll need customized webforms that qualify sales with questions such as: what products is the customer interested in? Price-range? Intended purchase period? Focus on publishing high quality information on your products and your services (features, price, value proposition) with calls-to-action to make an inquiry after which you can follow-up with a phone call. Set aside space to publish customer testimonials and positive customer feedback, websites make it easier for your customers to refer you onwards because they just pass your URL to your friends.
Goal 5: Amplify Your VoiceNeed to get your message out there at minimal cost?
Strategy: You need to focus on email marketing and blogs. Does your site have an email subscription box like a "Sign-up Here for our monthly specials?" or a "Sign-Up Here for our 5-part email series on recession proofing your small business". This will get you visitors opting-in to receive communications from you which you need to follow up with email-marketing. Too much push-marketing for you? Don't forget you can use your blog to publish material and pull visitors as well by posting your blog headlines on small and niche blog/news-aggregators and slowly building up from there!
Have you thought about your own eCommerce goals lately? Which ones apply to you and what strategies are you using to reach them? Just remember your website is so much more than an online brochure or an online catalog - it's an essential part of your business that can integrate your sales, support and marketing channels for you!
BigTurns Professional Services Ltd
Vancouver, BC V6E 4R1