When we start our businesses there are a ton of promotional things we can invest in. Things like a logo, business cards, flyers, car decal, fridge magnets; the list goes on.
But when you look at this list, each item is pretty much “set and forget”.
Many people see a website as a set-it-up-and-forget-it online promo for their business.
The truth of the matter is that your website is not an inanimate object. It’s actually (or should be) a tool that actively helps you run some of the day to day operations within your business.
There are THREE very important roles a website takes on, and they can, and should, all be interactive.
Very Important Role #1 – Marketing
Your website should be showcasing every aspect of your products or services in the very best light. It’s a visual elevator pitch that offers solutions to particular problems that your ideal customer is looking for help with. Your customer should feel like they’ve landed in just the right place for what they need.
It’s the place we should direct all our marketing (and customers) to, as this is where we’ve put all the most engaging details of our business. All of your traditional and digital promotion should point to a product or service on your website for additional (enticing) information to the original content in your marketing activity (Facebook post, Google ad, flyer, etc).
A website should also have Calls To Action (or CTAs), the thing we want the customer to do when they land on our website; Buy, Book, Call, etc. Your CTA’s should be on most pages of your website so it’s conveniently at your customer’s fingertips. CTA’s might look like a Buy button, a Book button or booking form or an obvious way to call you.
Speaking of customers leads us into….
Very Important Role #2 – Customer Interactivity
With the customer attention span getting shorter and shorter, all aspects of your website should be user friendly.
It should look just as good and work just as well on a phone as it does on a computer screen.
Menus should be easy to navigate, or put another way, any information the customer wants to find should be easily found.
Your customer needs instant access to the CTA (buy, book, call).
And filling in contact forms, booking appointments and putting in credit card details should be easy for them to find, navigate and act on.
Very Important Role #3 – An Active Tool In Your Business
A well functioning website should be a useful low tech tool, one that can provide some automation and help streamline your business processes.
When you write your Business Plan, you begin to think about specific day to day operations and the many things you need to do to complete each operation. For example, the process you will need to follow from a product being purchased to the customer receiving it.
A website can help with some of these operations.
But if you don’t know what “things” a website can do for you, then how do you know what it can help with in your day to day operations?
Once you know what’s available, you’ll have an idea of how to streamline your daily business activities, free up some time and reduce some costs.
Here is a list of things that a simple website should be able to do for you (with no extra cost in the build).
Typical contact forms filled out by customers on your website will automatically get sent to your inbox.
You can utilise contact forms as booking forms for one or more of your services. Each “booking” form can have a customised title that only you can see helping you to identify which of your services a customer is enquiring about when it lands in your inbox.
You can also customise the contact form to collect extra information. For example if you’d like to send a birthday discount to your customers as part of a loyalty program, you could add an extra field to your contact form to collect dates of birth.
Build a Mailing List
A Newsletter Subscription Form on your website can help you collect subscribers to market your products and services to at a later date. The email data you collect is automatically sent to your email marketing software (like Mailchimp), where it is not only legally stored correctly, but also allows you to send a marketing email to everyone on your list.
This can be a form on your website that your customer fills in or a checkbox on your website’s Checkout Page whenever a customer buys a product.
A chat bot can be set up on your website allowing potential clients to instant message your Business Facebook Page. Chat bots can be set up with an automatic reply message with specific information. Some examples are:
- “How can we help you with your custom order?” for businesses that sell custom products where a conversation may be needed to finalise a sale.
- “Looking for a quote? Please leave your name and address.” This is great for Trade Services that need to manage customer enquiries when they’re busy on a job.
- “Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out our FAQs here.” This auto reply would have a link to the FAQ section of your website.
Payment Gateway software can connect with your Stripe, PayPal or Square account so customer payments transfer directly to your bank account.
Once orders are taken through your website, they are saved in your Dashboard. Orders can easily be refunded at the click of a button, utilising the same payment information the customer provided during the sale. There’s no need to ask for bank details or organise a bank transfer for the refund. One click and you’re done.
Automatic Notifications Sent to Your Customers
When customers purchase a product, your website can automatically send an invoice by email.
By the click of a button you can automatically send an email to your customer when you ship their order.
Depending on your business type, stock management can be useful in different ways.
If you have limited stock of a product and know that you can’t get more, you can allocate specific stock quantities on your website.
In more complex examples; you can allocate SKUs to your products, manage stock quantities through your website or manage stock quantities through Square and sync Square with your website to update stock quantities on your website automatically.
If you’re interested in utilising Facebook’s Shop option, you will need a website.
Facebook will only allow you to have a Shop if your products are on your own website and this is mainly because your website manages the payment processing of customer orders.
However a small piece of software can be added to your website that will sync all the products on your website to your Facebook Shop, so that you don’t have to add your products in both locations (reducing double handling).
You can create a sale with a start and end date for a specific group of products on your website.
This is perfect for seasonal occasions like Christmas and Easter, etc.
But you can also create a sale to clear out stock that doesn’t sell well.
Discounts can be used in a number of ways.
You can create a discount specifically for wholesale orders, allowing suppliers to order directly through your website.
You might create a discount for first time buyers or as a loyalty program offer to your email database, providing them with incentive to remain on your mailing list.
These are just a few of the ways your website can help in your day to day operations.
It’s always good to chat about your current daily processes with your web designer to either get your website to work in with your current workflow or find ways to streamline things.