The Small Business Website and How to Make It a Customer-Generating Asset
Even enterprises aren’t safe.
Remember the old tale of the big chain store putting the small businesses out of business? In spite of all the “buy local” campaigns, enterprises have always had the upper hand in winning the war against small business.
But, here’s a little dose of truth: the playing field is level.
Yes, the enterprise still has a huge head start, and a lot more resources than an SMB, but they are also slow and bogged down with politics. That means, every small business with a little bit of hustle and savvy can win. If you don’t believe me, talk to Blockbuster and ask them how they feel about Netflix.
For most small businesses, the website is the great equalizer. All marketing stems from the website, and the website is their funnel.
The Small Business Website
Give someone with a little talent and a lot of passion a smartphone and computer, and they can beat large marketing budgets all day long. And, the central point of all marketing is the website.
The success of most small business marketing, and the driver of massive growth, is the website. The website is the hub of everything. It’s where you generate leads, and where you bring them for nurturing. It’s where you build brand awareness, and generate buzz about your brand.
But, a lot of small businesses are struggling with their website. If you feel that pain, we’re going to list a few tips in this article to help you turn your website from a liability into a small business growth-generating asset.
How To Get More From a Small Business Website
First off, we need to identify the main purpose of your small business website. What benefits should the website bring to the small business?
Your Website, Your Best Great Salesman
Imagine you own a furniture store. You have several salespeople, but your superstar is Greg. Customers seem to really like him, and he instantly makes them feel comfortable - their guards come down, and they build instant trust. And, as a result, he sells to 60% of the customers he talks to.
Then, you have the rest of the sales team. They are low energy, and is just there to make a paycheck. They don’t care about the customer, doesn’t build a relationship with them, and converts customers at a rate of 20%.
Now, in the traditional small business world, Greg can only handle one customer at a time. So, if Greg is busy, you can expect only 20% acquisitions from every other salesperson.
But, what if you could clone Greg? What if you could clone him every time a new customer walked through the door?
Better yet, what if you could start A/B testing Greg? So, instead of leading with his normal story, you test a new story and discover that conversion rate jumped to 65%. Then, you could duplicate that new approach to all of your Gregs.
Suddenly, your store is closing at a 65% rate across the board. Wouldn't that be great?
That’s literally what the small business website is supposed to be - your best salesman.
Why Most Small Business Websites Suck
Most SMB websites don’t work because they didn't’ try to replicate Greg - they tried to build a brochure. So, when a visitor comes to the website, they have a bad experience and only a small percentage convert.
Consider the best salespeople are relationship-builders. They take their prospects golfing - not because they have a goal of golfing as much as possible, but because they have a goal of making the sell. But, they understand, the sell comes from relationship and trust, not from pitching.
If you want your small business website to perform at a high level, you must find a way to make it a relationship engine, and not a sales engine. To do that, your website must be built from the customer’s point of view, not your companies.
A Customer-Centric Website Experience
Consider the buyer journey of each of your target personas - what does the typical process look like from start to finish?
The Awareness Stage
It’s in this stage, the prospect doesn’t know you exist. They are looking for a solution to their problems. Using the previous example, maybe the customer needs a new chair to alleviate back pain.
If your website has content about the furniture choices to alleviate back pain, there’s a good chance this prospect finds their way onto that article. And, if they find it helpful, they will have more questions for you - if you’re available to answer them.
The Interest Stage
At this stage, you’ve sold the prospect on one thing: a new piece of furniture is probably the answer to their back pain problems. Now, they are interested in learning more about the furniture that will fit them stylistically and ergonomically. Essentially, they are still in the research phase, it’s just research into their options of a solution.
Now, the small business website should be a place they can go to compare/contrast different furniture options. They will read customer reviews, not on your business, but on the individual products. They are interested in a product, they just don’t know which one.
The Consideration Phase
At this stage, the prospect has found enough potential choices for back-pain-busting furniture. They’ve been reading your content, but they’ve also been looking at your competitor’s content as well. Now, they are trying to decide which store they should buy from.
If your content has been truly helpful, they are starting to trust your word. Now, you can have informational content based on why your customers love you. What do you do, besides selling furniture, that makes your customers happy they chose you?
The Decision Phase
If your website has been an educational, helpful experience to this point, the prospect will be contacting you to close the sell. They have made their decision, and they are ready to buy. This is when the real Greg could field the call and close the sell much more quickly, because his clone (the website) has done all the hard work for him.
Getting More from a Small Business Website
If your website is setup to help the customer, and the content is geared toward helping the customer, the customer will learn to trust your website. When there is a high level of trust, sales conversions are much smoother.
And, once you have a website that provides a great buyer journey experience, you can funnel as much traffic as possible into the awareness stage, and allow your small business website to do the rest of the work.
Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.