Meeting Your Objectives
When deciding on other information to include, remember your objectives for the Web site. What do you want it to do for you? That will determine what other information you should include.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Your goal should be to make your Web site valuable enough to visitors that they want to bookmark it. Bookmarks are the best way to ensure repeat visits, but it’s entirely up to the visitor to decide whether a site is worth bookmarking.
Product or Service Details
At the very minimum, you’ll probably want to include a list of your products and services. But why not go into detail? Pull information from your brochures and catalogs. Then expand that information to bring it up to date or get more specific. Think of the questions your customers or clients might have and answer them in the descriptions.
By providing pricing information, you help your customers or clients do some comparison shopping. They can see at once if your prices are within their budgets. If you have some kind of special offer available to Web customers or clients, or special pricing for qualified wholesalers, don’t keep it a secret. Provide as much information as you can.
Not everyone likes to include pricing information where it is publicly accessible to customers or clients—as well as the competition. Instead, some companies prefer to have a sales representative contact the customer or client directly. If this is the case in your business, be sure to explain on your site how customers or clients can get pricing information. Just be aware that a visit to your Web site might be the last step in a purchase decision—if the pricing information isn’t readily available, the visitor could buy elsewhere.
If you have technical support documents, FAQs, and other documents that can help your current customers and clients, put them on your Web site. This can save you the trouble (and expense) of sending this information out by fax or mail. Best of all, you can make the information available to your customers or clients 24/7 so they can solve problems when they occur—not when you’re around to help them.
The Four “A”s
Another marketing tool is something I refer to as the Four “A”s.
The Four “A”s give potential customers or clients confidence in your company’s capabilities. Just make sure that the item you include on your site is related to your company. Otherwise, it’ll appear as if you’re trying to impress potential customers or clients with irrelevant information.
Affiliations are organizations with which your business or its principals are affiliated. If your business is part of a larger organization, be sure to say so on your Web site. It shows that you’re not just some small fly-by-night company.
The same goes for professional and public service organization affiliations of the business owners or managers. It shows that these people take their profession and community seriously.
Accreditations are certificates or degrees that the business or its principals have earned. These usually include completion of continuing education courses related to the business. Accreditations are extremely popular in professional services fields such as real estate, accounting, and finance. Certificates or degrees earned by business owners or managers show that these people are always interested in learning more about their profession so they can better serve their customers or clients.
Accolades are words of praise from customers or clients. They can be testimonials, letters of thanks, or just quotes about the company’s capabilities. Accolades are a great way to show how real customers and clients feel about your company.
Tip: Be sure to get permission from a customer or client to use his comments on your Web site before you put it online.
Awards are just that: awards received by the business or its principals. They show that the business’s service is good enough to be recognized by outside organizations.
Web Site Design Awards
A Web designer I know includes numerous award logos and graphics on many of the Web sites he creates. Most of these awards are from obscure sources and I suspect that he paid some kind of fee to obtain them. These awards say nothing about the content of the Web site or the quality of the company for which the site was built. They just make you wonder whether the Web designer spends more time building Web sites or entering design contests.
If your business provides a service to clients, you may want to include some information about the people who will be providing the service. Who are these people? How long have they been with the company? What are their accomplishments? Why should clients feel comfortable letting these people handle their needs? These are some of the questions the information you include could answer. Including photos and bios of the people on staff can help potential clients get to know them and possibly choose the one that they think can meet their needs.
If you know of other sources of information that could be of interest to customers or clients, include them on your Web site. This helps expand the information you provide without adding pages to the site.
For example, a tax accountant may provide information about where IRS forms and publications can be found in his area. Or he might list some Web sites with additional tax data. In both instances, he’s helping the site visitor get more information, but he’s not actually providing that information on his site.
Site Revision Date
You may want to include the date your site (or individual pages on the site) was last revised. But beware! If your site isn’t revised often, including the revision date will confirm what the visitor may already suspect: that the site’s information is stale. In fact, some savvy Internet surfers (myself included) will look for a revision date to help ensure that the information isn’t old. It may be better to leave the date out and keep them guessing.
On the other hand, if your site is updated on a regular basis—say, more often than once a month—it’s a very good idea to include a revision date. This will assure visitors that your Web site’s information is important enough to keep up to date and that the information there is fresh.
Putting Your Small Business on the Web
The Peachpit Guide to Webtop Publishing
By Maria Langer
Publisher : Peachpit Press
ISBN : 0-201-71713-1