Deciding to pursue a professional website is a big leap and can be an overwhelming process if you are not prepared. A custom built website can take your business to the next level and bring you a loyal customer base both online and in your brick and mortar locations. Without a proper web presence your marketing will only reach those who were lucky enough to stumble across your great products and services through your social media accounts, hopefully spreading the word to at least a couple of new customers for you. Don’t let chance dictate whether your business will succeed or not!
How do you know when the right time may be for your business to have a website? What should you think about ahead of time? What can you prepare? Let’s explore these questions and figure out whether it’s time for your business to take the leap and hire a total branding expert for a custom made website!
Is the timing right for a new website?
It can be difficult to know when to start your business website (hint: As soon as viably possible.) and I often hear business owners asking questions about how a website should look, function, and inform site visitors. The Internet has grown and changed at a rapid pace since its birth. Thankfully, there are now video and blog resources available to quickly train you in all the basics of how websites and search engines work! Understanding the basics of modern website design trends and SEO best practices will help you have a better idea of what you want from your business website and will prepare you to produce the best text content to attract visitors to your website. Take some time to learn the basics before hiring a web developer or agency to save time for both parties.
Then there is the big question: “Why is the cost so high?!” While there are free options, which starting businesses should definitely utilize to save money, a professional website is your foothold into a larger market, greater profits, and faster business growth. The cost is high because, unlike the free alternatives that try to be one size fits all solutions, a professionally made custom business website will focus on the strengths of the business visually through personalized photography, design, and animation. It will attract new customers through specifically tailored and targeted text content, optimized for the best keywords related to the business for maximum exposure in search engines. A professional website meets all of your businesses needs and adds extra value to your marketing and branding efforts, while a free, or cheaply made, website will only help in providing information to customers actively seeking you out online; making finding new online customers an extra strenuous effort.
So what happens after the website has launched? If you brushed up on the basics of SEO above, then you know that you will have to produce new content on your website regularly in the form of blog posts, new products, and even posting to social media regularly. Will you have time for that, or do you want to hire someone to do that for you? A website that sits idle after launching will only fall behind competition and provide ZERO value to your business!
Do you need branding materials for your website?
Now that you know your business is ready for a custom built website, you will need to think of your branding and what assets you may need to have created for your business. Branding and web agencies like Image Brothers can help you build your business brand if you don’t already have branding assets like a logo to use on your website and printed materials, or a color scheme and the corresponding color values to match the style and design across your brand. It is also good to have the social media usernames related to your business registered as soon as possible (stick to the big three if you are unsure which to register: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+). Having these assets prepared, or at least being aware that you will need these assets, will help speed the website development process along.
Who will be managing the marketing for your website?
Launching a website is only the beginning of bringing in new customers and raising your business profits. First you have to give your customers a reason to come to you over competitor websites. In order to properly market yourself against competition and easily be found in search engines you will have to launch a detailed Search Engine Optimization campaign (SEO) and a Social Media Marketing campaign (SMM).
SEO campaigns involve posting blogs on your site as well as guest posting on relevant and related websites to link back to yours. Text content on your website will be updated and altered regularly depending on your website ranking for specific keywords or phrases that you are trying to rank on the first page of search results. This process is a monthly effort as competitors will be doing the same updates, attempting to knock you down in the rankings in order to be found first by new potential customers.
In order to boost and maintain a good SEO presence and ranking a business can launch an SMM campaign. This involves posting regularly to your social media profiles to create awareness and link back to your website and products regularly. It will also involve the creation and regular sending of a newsletter to gather your site visitors into groups that allow you to target them more specifically with the information they want and not spam they will delete.
Knowing how you plan on accomplishing your business SEO and SMM needs will help with your success after launching your new business website. If you don’t have the time to learn and regularly work on your business marketing, then plan on hiring a company for a monthly SEO and SMM campaign, freeing up time for you to work on other important parts of your business.
What can you prepare for your website?
Now that you know you are ready to pursue a professionally made website for your business you are probably wondering how you can start preparing to speed up the process and reach your goals faster? Fantastic! Start out by finding websites of your competitors and examples of websites and features that you like or think that you would want in your new website. The more examples and details, the easier it will be for the web developers to provide the perfect solution for your business.
After you have an idea of how the competition is presenting itself online you can begin gathering all the necessary information about your business to hand over to your developer. What is your business address and contact information? Is the business online only (an e-commerce website)? Then will you be using a personal address that you don’t want to be presented to the public, or do you have a PO Box or rented mailbox address you would rather use instead?
Also think about the email address you will need. You may already have personal email address that you might even use for business purposes, but a proper email address will look more professional and maintain your brand unity in communications. Think about the contact forms you will have on your website and what email address those forms will submit to, like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. These email addresses can all be forwarded and controlled by your main personal email, ensuring you don’t have to log into multiple accounts to manage them, while still allowing you to respond to customers from any of the email addresses, including your personal email address if necessary. This will allow you to easily keep your communications separate and organized while allowing your business to grow and allow those email address to be maintained by other individuals (for instance a marketer you hire) or whole departments in the future.
The final part you should prepare is the text content of the website. The web developer or design agency you hire may offer text copy writing services, but having a starting point for text content will only complete the work faster. Try to have any About the Company texts, biographies, or important information written out and as detailed as possible before beginning a project, or at least have a first draft to be used in the first previews of the website project.
While a web development agency will be able to help you prepare and create all the necessary assets for your business and can help plan, detail, and carry out all of your marketing efforts, it can be an overwhelming experience if you are not prepared. A professional SEO optimized website will boost your business locally and online and is the biggest recommendation to all businesses looking to attract new customers. Be sure to think about whether the timing is right for you and your business to make the move to a professional website. Know the potential costs you may have for branding materials and text copy writing. Plan your marketing strategy and be prepared to launch a campaign as soon as your new website launches. And if you want your website to be completed as fast as possible, try to prepare text content and page ideas before meeting with a web developer to provide a good starting point for the project. But, the most important part is to get excited that you are taking the best step forward for your business to find success! Have you had any experiences that made you wish you had thought about or asked more questions beforehand? Let us know in the comments!