The very first place you need to begin with any small business web marketing plan is your website. Like a strong foundation for a house, your website sets the stage for your entire web marketing strategy. I'm always surprised when I talk to small business owners and entrepreneurs who fail to get this one key component in place before ramping up their online marketing efforts -- it really is an absolute must! In this post, I'll walk you through the essential steps to creating a killer website that will help you attract more traffic, convert more leads, and increase your sales. Let's get started...
NOTE: This is part of a five-part blog series, which explores the 5 key components of building a powerful small business web marketing plan that works! If you enjoy this post, please be sure to read the other posts in this complete series:
Why You Should Never Use A Free Website Builder
Before we dive in, I want to address a particular pet peeve of mine -- free website builders. There are loads of these sites out there. From Blogger.com to WordPress.com and now even sites like Wix are offering free website builders for small business. I know, I know… Free always sounds great, right? But there are plenty of problems these free site builders bring along with their "free" allure.
First, what you're getting in many cases is really not free at all. Lots of so-called free website builders will find ways to charge you for upgrades, add-ons, and special features. Second, and perhaps most dangerous, is these free website builders take complete control of your site and your content. If for some reason they don't like you, they can kick you off without a reason or explanation. This can and does happen.
With a free website builder you're just not going to get the long-term flexibility you really need to build a successful web presence. Even WordPress (which I consider the very best platform for small business websites) offers a free blog platform which you should avoid.
Note: If you're just blogging about what you eat for lunch or doing something simple and personal, these free website builders have their advantages. I would just avoid using them for a business website. You want to convey professionalism, not "fly by night" cheapness.
Why WordPress Is The Best Small Business Website Platform
WordPress is far and away my favorite platform for small business websites. WordPress is easy to setup, easy to customize, and very easy to use. There's a slight learning curve -- more so than with some of the drag-and-drop website builders many hosting companies offer. But the learning curve is worth the time investment.
WordPress is also exceptionally good for SEO and Social Media performance. For SEO, I recommend the "Wordpress SEO" plugin by Yoast. For social media, I recommend the "Floating Social Bar" plugin by WP Beginner.
There are tons of plugins, themes, and add-ons for WordPress that make this the ideal foundation for building your small business web marketing presence.
Hiring Graphic And Web Designers (Tips And Warnings)
If you're not a tech wizard (and it's really to your advantage if you're not) then you will need to hire a website design team to help you build your website. For WordPress, this can run between $500 on the low end to $5,000 on the high end. Some very in-demand designers may charge $10,000 or more for their work. And if you're looking for an Ecommerce build out in WordPress, you could be looking at $10,000 or more depending on the size and scope of your project.
The best guideline for setting a website budget is this: You get what you pay for. Still, it's very important to take time vetting out any company you hire to build your website. Ask for samples of their work and for details on their process and qualifications.
One important note about hiring a web designer and/or graphic designer to help you achieve your vision. You need to remember that these folks are generally NOT marketing experts. They might pretend to understand marketing (who doesn't think they can create the world's greatest commercials, right?) but the reality is programmers and graphic designers generally do NOT really understand how small business marketing works. So be very careful taking marketing advice from these folks.
The #1 Purpose Of Your Website
With all of these details under your belt, I want to emphasize one very critical aspect of website -- it's an essential ingredient you'll need to help you get the best possible results with your small business web marketing plan: Lead Generation.
Your website's purpose is one thing and one thing only -- to generate leads for your business.
With this in mind, be sure that every part of your website includes opt-in forms. Your home page, your informational pages, and especially your blog posts. We'll explore this topic more in-depth in future posts in this series, but for now just keep this at the top of your list. Every single page of your website needs to be contributing in some way to converting your visitors into leads.
What questions do YOU have about building a powerful small business website? Please leave your comment below.
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