Let’s focus on my business for a bit. Usually, I’m all about my client’s business (the “if they do well, I do well” perspective), but we’ll flip it around for a change.
The websites/web-marketing industry is undergoing huge changes. Has been for years, of course, along with technology in general. Ask a website designer/builder to go back 5 years and recall how websites were built, and compare to today’s tools and techniques. It’s chalk and cheese.
And cheaper. Like most technology (except iPhones, it seems…!).
In the last couple of years, there have been 2 major developments that have led to a massive surge in the number of people who say they are available to build you a fabulous website. “Page builders” which greatly reduce or even eliminate the technical knowledge needed. And “Software as a Service” which lets you subscribe to functions & tools & facilities that you need, when you need them, without having any hassles with installation, maintenance, upgrades or backups.
You may have seen the Wix ads, or Squarespace, or GoDaddy. Yes, you can DIY – build a website right now, and it will indeed look good, at low cost (to start with). Get up and running in an hour or two. They don’t lie.
So we have a huge number of ‘experts’ out there now. The web industry has such low barriers to entry that it has become an enticing side-gig, a part-time activity that fits in with the full-time job or study. All you need is a reasonable internet connection.
The result is apparently a reverse hourglass effect. Squeeze at the bottom of the market (lots and lots of competition for low-priced projects), squeeze at the top of the market (high-ticket projects attracting increased attention from mid-range players who can easily access more advanced capabilities).
In the middle, though, there seems to be a more positive effect for business such as Winch Websites. A project can now include functions and facilities that would have been financially out of reach to small and micro businesses or non-profits. It’s here that clients typically already have experience with owning a website, and recognise the skills, expertise and benefits that a professional brings to play. Websites are no longer about the technology – it’s about what they are there to achieve for the organisation. More sales? More signups? More donations? More enquiries or leads? The focus is on the outcome, not the tool. Find out what the outcome is first, then find the best tool to make that happen. Then fine-tune and optimise, forever. Something worth investing in, in other words.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that although the website and web-marketing industries have very low barriers to entry (and therefore many, many participants), it doesn’t mean that getting something good is easy and cheap as chips. A decent investment really should pay dividends.
However, riding shotgun with the low barriers to entry is the lack of regulation and control. If you haven’t come across outrageous claims already, you won’t have to go far to find some. Think “website in a day”, “Google page 1”, “10x your sales”.
How about your own industry? How easy is it for a newcomer to come along and think “Hmm, that looks like an easy way to earn money. I’ll say I can do it and then work it out from there!”?
If you too have low barriers to entry, you’ll be familiar with all of the above. And like as not, you too will have had customers who’ve tried the cheap and the quick, been burned, and are now looking for experience and knowledge.
When you go looking for website and web-marketing services, please bear in mind that there’s little to stop people saying what they like in internet-land. Take claims with a small pinch of cynicism and maybe do a bit of due diligence. Ask or look for evidence that your chosen service provider has done this sort of thing, and that it’s worked. Be ever-so-slightly distrustful of reviews and testimonials unless there’s evidence to back them up as genuine customers.
At Winch Websites, I’m well aware that the competition for your web-marketing dollars is global, huge, and a minefield of options, technicalities, capabilities and playing with the truth. I aim to provide honest and accurate advice, and if we aren’t a good fit for each other in terms of outcomes and objectives, I’ll happily refer you to services or businesses that are.
I want to take care of your website so that you can take care of your business – over the long term, ongoing. That’s not going to happen unless you get great value from Winch Websites. So next time you’re looking for website design & build, website care or email automation services, please get in touch. At the very least, you’ll get something to compare against. And I’d love to hear what you think when you do compare, business feedback is so hard to come by!
Good luck in your business, and may low barriers to entry be no barriers to your success!!
Your website has to be about your business – the products/services that you provide. That comes first. When visitors land on your website (however you drive them there), they’ll be looking to check they’ve come to the right place. So Step 1 is to provide whatever it is that lets the visitors know that you are a potential match for whatever they are looking for.
But then what? We have someone who’s confirmed that you are potentially able to provide the solution required. S/he has seen enough to think it’s worth pursuing.
Here is the 2nd Most Important Thing your website should have. The fabled “Call To Action“. In other words, don’t leave the interested visitors hanging – guessing what the next step should be. Do they phone you? Email you? Fill in an online enquiry? Can they buy it there and then? It’s up to YOU to tell them – and the easier you make it, the more likely it is to happen.
Don’t ask for a long form to be filled in with lots of deep-thought answers, unless it’s important to you that they do. On this website, I have a quick and easy Contact form (see that “Contact” link up in the menu). But I also have a much more involved form for potential clients that may want to work with Winch Websites, in the Project Enquiry form – this is an essential pre-qualification to see if the business owner knows enough and cares enough to be able to clearly set what the project is to achieve. It saves time on both sides if we both know what we’re doing, why, who for, and for what objectives.
So look through the home page on the Winch Websites site – you’ll regularly see a big orange button asking for the visitor to get in touch. These lead to a short and easy form – and the less a form asks for, the better (less ‘friction’ = more submissions).
Make sure ALL your webpages include a Call To Action (or CTA, in marketing-speak). Each page, at the top, the middle, the bottom, tell your potential clients exactly what you prefer they do next to go to the next step. Then make that action as easy and simple as possible (and make sure it runs on both desktop and mobiles!).
Is your website working for or against you? If you’re missing CTAs and you think it’s time to get a website that is effective and pays for itself, get in touch. (See what I did there? CTA again!)
A change in your business offerings is always going to be a catalyst for a review of how you market and publicise your business. At Enhanced Power Virtual Office Assistance, the principal Roneta had worked hard to gain certification as a Registered BAS Agent. This gave her a whole new arm to her business – in addition to the paperwork, book-keeping, editing and administration services she could now prepare and submit the Business Activity Statement (BAS) on behalf of her small-business clients.
Roneta wanted to make this major extension to her business front and centre. Her website was about 5 years old, and while perfectly acceptable the technology it was built with was behind the times – as was its design and layout.
So a revamp was on the cards. The core business service features prominently as the first thing visitors see. But it’s not a dry “We do BAS”. The site focusses on the visitor and how s/he can benefit from Enhanced Power Virtual Office Assistance. Time. We all want more time, and if your business isn’t administration, papework, and BAS, odds are those things are what you’d rather NOT do. This theme carries on through the site. Roneta is about taking off you what you don’t want to do anyway – doing it for you professionally and economically.
Client testimonials add social proof of Roneta’s capabilities and ethos. Contact details include a quick online query form. And a video adds extra visual appeal. A separate page breaks out more detail on what Enhanced Power Virtual Office Assistance can do.
Roneta didn’t want to go much further online because each client has unique needs and aspects, so it’s important to discuss with each lead what she can do and therefore what sort of pricing will apply. This is a small 2-page website that is all about lead generation. Let visitors know what Roneta does (and why that’s of interest), and encourage them to get in touch.
How about your own website? Do you know what you want from it? Does it actively work to achieve that? Our “Project Enquiry” form will help you work that out if you aren’t too sure – you don’t need to submit it, of course, unless you would like Winch Websites to put together a proposal customised to your needs. That form will get you thinking though.
There’s a bit of pressure on a business, any business, to have a website. Is your website there because you felt you should have one, or is it there as an active promoter for you and what you do?
Have a scan of your competition’s websites. You’ll quickly be able to rank them according to first-impression – the good, the bad, the ugly! Which ones do you think are a ‘positive’ for the business they are promoting? Which of your competitors have a website that encourages more business in some way? Put the competitor websites in order, best down to worst (find at least half a dozen).
Now take a look at your own website, and slot it into the rankings. Is it a website with a bit of information, or is it actually trying to ‘sell’? Does it give a good first impression? Does it tell visitors what you do and equally importantly, what THEY should do next if they want to find out more or even buy your product/service?
Your website is a business investment, which by definition means you should be getting more OUT of it than you put IN. It’s easy to say “measure everything”, but if you don’t already have a gut feel on whether your website is pulling in new business for you, then you need to find some easy ways to get that information. Ask people how they found out about you, whether they referred to your website, what they thought of your website if they did. Make it part of the conversation when you get a new enquiry or customer.
A poor website built just to tick something off a to-do list will lose you business as potential clients go elsewhere. A good-looking website built to encourage customers to do business with you is a business tool that builds and promotes and sells.
(Another way to look at website “investment” – how much do you need to sell to generate enough profit to pay for a $3,000-$5,000 website? Read the Price or Value blog-post to find out more)
Anyone responsible for spending on behalf of an organisation, be it your own business or not, needs to make sure that the spending only happens for good reason. As the economists will tell you, money is a “scarce resource”. Nobody has an unlimited budget. But the price of something needs to be seen in terms of its value as well.
We know that a very large budget opens up a lot of doors and possibilities. We know that a very small budget makes things very difficult. At the smaller end of the scale, where most small businesses and non-profits operate, there is (or at least, should be!) a healthy focus on managing limited funds tightly. So when it comes to spending those limited funds, there are two ways to go – look at the price, or look at the value.
Up until a couple of years ago, Winch Websites was definitely a “price” centred business – the dollar amount was key. Essentially, the philosophy boiled down to whether the expenditure was mandatory eg. a phone service, internet, domain name renewals or whether the expenditure was optional eg. advertising, training, graphic design tools. In all cases, the cheapest deal was likely to be the best deal so long as the bare essentials came with it.
But then the business took a turn to a different direction. Not left or right, but up. Purchases were made on the basis of “value”. Here, the price is no longer relevant (really!). What matters is what that spend will bring back. A few examples;
So as hopefully you can see, viewing potential expenditure through the lens of “value” leads to a different perspective. Relating this to websites, it is easy to simply see the quoted price and not see past it to the value. “A website that you’ve described will require an investment of around $4,000” often leads to sticker-shock for a new or young business (or small business moving up in the world) – yet if that same business was to open a real brick-and-mortar shop, $4,000 would be a small fraction of the required budget. Once more, the question to ask in response to the amount is “What will that get me?“. If you are happy with the answer, then you’re getting good value.
If you’d like to chat about your own website, and what would be good value for you, please get in touch.
When you set out on the road to build or revamp your website, one of your most important (critical!) duties is to assemble and provide the information to guide your website creator. For building websites, think layout, design, logos, words & images for each page, the overall ‘feel’, the specific colours to mach your other marketing materiel… It’s no small job, and it’s very important to the success of your website. If you don’t engage, don’t get involved, you’re very unlikely to get the site you want. You absolutely need to give your website designer freedom to build a great site that reflects your business AND works well AND looks impressive. But you need to guide that from the outset.
How this is done in practice varies enormously between website creators.
One of the services that Winch Websites makes use of in the process of building a business-effective website is called ContentSnare. A client is invited to login to the ContentSnare website, and in there the client finds a number of forms to complete. These ask for things like the logo file, the colour-scheme to use, links to websites that the client likes the look of, webhosting account login details, the official contact info for the business, and the contact info to put on the website if it’s different, and lots more.
These forms are custom-built for the client to reflect their project. They can be completed in any order, one item at a time, with each one being marked by the client as ‘Complete’. It means while building websites, the client can provide bits and pieces as they get the opportunity at a time that suits them. The ContentSnare system reminds clients that there are items to be done, and this keeps projects moving along – we all know what it’s like running a business, you can get so busy “doing the do” you completely forget the development stuff that is so important to grow a business. ContentSnare automatically sends reminders as deadlines approach, saving time & trouble for both web designer and client.
ContentSnare also provides a dashboard view for an overall look at how things are going. It’s a great feeling to hit that “100%” done target!
This is one example of an internet service that Winch Websites employs to make specifying, designing, managing, and building websites a smoother, easier, and ultimately more cost-effective process. It’s a great example of what the internet can do for businesses – automate, standardise, and most importantly offload tasks while ensuring that they get attended to.
If you’d like to investigate what Winch Websites could do for your business, please get in touch. There are ALL sorts of options these days!
To find out more about ContentSnare, visit contentsnare.com