Thursday, 15 August 2013

10 Essential things Businesses in Bath and Somerset need from a Website

If you own or manage a small or medium sized business in Bath or Somerset, then there is a very good chance you have not got a website.

Surveys show that a staggering 60% of small businesses in the UK do not have an online presence. I wonder if that same percentage may well equate to the businesses based in Bath or Somerset. Are you one of the 60%?
You may still advertise in Yellow Pages or place leaflets through doors. However, many other businesses, such as newspapers, magazines, book stores, food stores, hair salons etc. do have a website and pay far less attention to paper advertising. Even Yellow Pages has a website. And what of your competitors? Do they the edge over you with an online presence?
One day all businesses based in Bath and Somerset will have an online presence.                          Why? Because consumers will expect it.
When the automobile (car to you and me) was first on our streets, people said it would never take over from the horse. When electricity was invented people said it was far too dangerous. When home computers became available they were only for scientists or gadget geeks. Who ever thought 15 to 20 years ago that  we could buy our shopping, play a game or watch video from a phone. In them days phones were for phoning and not much else.
The world is constantly changing. Every single piece of research on the matter shows us the use of online facilities is growing more extensively by the day.
So what potential customers will want to see from your Business Website:
1. An easy to remember and functional web address
Your domain name and your business name or the type of business you offer should be reflected in your domain name.

2. A clear description of what your business offers
Statements that are clear and precise to what you do, what services you provide or the products you sell.

3. A website that consumers can navigate easily
No point having a super duper website with fantastic pictures and great text if when they get there the viewer cannot work out what to do next or which page links to what.

4. Contact details that are accessible and obvious
So many times I have been onto websites, some of which owned by some big name companies and for the life of me I cannot find the address, contact number or email. Make it clear and make it obvious.

5. Testimonials and galleries of your work
Consumers like to know that other people have been satisfied with your work. There are many ways to ‘show off’ your work or have people talk positively about your business. Word of mouth really does help sell your business. 

6. A website is an adverting and marketing tool for your business
An excellent means of generating new sales and keeping present customers aware of new products or services. It’s a brochure and catalogue all in one. A good website links to social media sites, video sites, professional bodies or associations. And with Pay Pal one can offer safe and secure online transactions. With unlimited space you can convey your message for unlimited time. New ideas can be tested in real time with instant results.

7. Ensure your business advertises the right impression
Make sure your website is up to date. Make sure it promotes your business in the best light. If you advertise in magazines, on billboards or posters you would want your adverts to be very professional and send the right message. Whatever you do, however you do it, always bear in mind; The impression your business is making to the world around you.

8. Be sure to get your website visible
Always ensure it is professionally built and correctly coded for search engine optimisation. Your website needs to be compatible with mobiles, tablets and computers. Remember, most people now have a mobile phone in their pocket, which acts like a mini computer. Basically they have the opportunity of finding your website wherever they are and at any time of day.

9. Make yourself accessible
Websites extend business hours 24-7. Any updated information, offers or product promotion is seen immediately. Your customers are going onto Google or shopping on EBay or Amazon when they get home from work. People are online all the way till bedtime. They may well want to find a plumber, builder, electrician, fitness instructor, or osteopath as well. Why on earth would they search through a paper directory when they are probably online anyway, and all they have to do is tap into Google ‘hypnotherapy bath’ and there it is.

10. Keep up with social media
Increasingly people want to know more about the people behind the business. They want to get feel for the ‘human side’ of the people behind the adverts or the websites. Social media sites such as Facebook and particularly Twitter, enable a business to engage on that ‘human’ level to an audience of thousands. When you buy a product in a shop you are more likely to return if the shopkeeper has treated you well and given you that ‘human’ contact. Well that’s exactly what business is now doing with social media.

Some small business owners think that having a website will cost too much money. Well compare the price of a five page website to the money you spend on Yellow Pages, magazines or printed leaflets.

Ask people when was the last time they picked up a paper directory. Ask people what they do with the leaflets that come through their door. I can guarantee you are spending much more money on directories that people no longer read and on paper advertising that goes straight in the bin.
Yes your 16yr old could possibly build a website. Yes you can go cheap and do it yourself with the likes of 1&1 My Website. Yes you can get a website built very cheaply indeed. But consider this. In all my time working closely with local business in Bath and Somerset, none of them have told me that these sites do what they want for their business. Why? Because there is more to building a website than a few pretty pictures and some fancy Shakespeare style writing. To me it’s like buying a car on the grounds it’s a great colour, has black leather seats and a badge suggesting it’s a GSI. Totally without knowing how it works under the bonnet or if all the relevant parts are in order and functioning properly.

Are you going to catch-up and join the online success stories in Bath and Somerset?
Blogger for Bath Business Web Ltd

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