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Online Business: 5 Characteristics of a Highly Effective Website

Back in the 90’s all a business had to do was have a website to stand out, receive high rankings in popular search engines and sell their products and services online.  In the 2000’s the competition became fierce but a well-designed site and some Internet marketing helped a business to soar past their competitors.  So now we ask; what about 2012 and beyond?

Your Website IS your Business – Not an Extension of It

With the growing popularity of mobile apps and smaller, faster computers, shopping from anywhere is easy. Customers buy big screen TVs from the lineup in the grocery store because they have already done their research and read reviews from the convenience of their home or office. There are many families working multiple jobs and encouraging their children to attend extracurricular activities, so who has time to comparison shop in person anymore? No one!

The habits of the average consumer have changed. More people are turning to online storefronts before they visit the physical retail location and it’s increasingly popular to make entire purchases online from start to finish.  Instead of visiting a coffee shop, taking a business card and checking out the website at home, customers are finding out about the coffee shop through positive reviews on social media, visiting the site and then becoming a customer.  That customer will tell their friends, provided the site has a certain set of traits.

Online Image Matters and so Does Connecting with Your Community

Due to the popularity of online shopping, physical retail outlets, including some of the biggest names in North America, are being forced to hire the best in the industry to revamp their stores and pricing, just to stay afloat in the face of online retail giants like Amazon.

What this comes down to is that having a website is not just a bonus anymore.  It should be considered at least half of the business’s marketing budget and a good portion of its potential revenue stream.  While some changes to your website are free, others such as redesign and marketing services cost. The same rule applies online as it does in the “real world” – You get what you pay for.  Investing time and money into improving your online storefront will significantly contribute toward being “in the now” today and remaining a contender in your industry tomorrow.

Do You Have These Five Strategies for Success in Play?

If not, don’t wait any longer!  Some of these strategies are free.  To have a website that attracts the right customers and sells what you are offering you’re going to need:

  • A Site that looks good
    in the modern era of social media marketing, nobody and I repeat NOBODY is going to recommend a site that looks terrible.  There are just too many good ones out there now. In addition to being aesthetically appealing a website should be intuitive for the customer’s benefit.  Contact information, products and answers to commonly asked questions should be featured where it is easy to see and/or access.

It’s so much easier to back-click than it is to scour a website for information.  The customers of 2012 and beyond want what they want, when they want it…Needless to say, they want it now.  Don’t forget it!

  • A Variety of Content such as Videos, Information, “How To” Pieces

Websites MUST engage the customer and offer them a different and interesting experience than that of the competition. Some examples include:

-Video demonstrations such as installation guides, “meet the team,” etc.

-White papers that answer the question, “What problem does this customer have and how does our product/service solve their problem?” White papers can be downloaded and shared with the customer’s boss and/or team to make your job selling a whole lot easier.

-Press Releases to announce new products and services and articles describing the benefits of your services or company.

  • An Active Blog

A blog, news feed or article database is the best way to prove your expertise, answer your customer’s questions and get noticed (and ranked higher) by search engines.  A blog is also a great way to hold contests and engage in social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

  • Online participation in social media and on other blogs

By making recommendations, posting comments and engaging the community, you are always advertising your business.  If you are known as a friendly and positive presence on local review sites, and you have “liked” many related companies on Facebook, these kindnesses will be returned.

And the Most Important of Them All…

  • Obtaining Quality Links

Forget SEO and ranking.  Yes, of course they are one of the most important contributors toward gaining trust and recognition in the search engines but quality links also means that the business has engaged, discussed and contributed to the industry with well-written, high quality content.  This translates into being noticed, trusted and shared. There are many ways to receive a link back to your online storefront including but not limited to:

-Guest posts on other blogs
-Reviews
-Customers who link to your content and promotions
-Related products and service that endorse what you offer
-Cross promotional relationships
-Happy customers who link to you from their website

To setup these high quality links you can contact these businesses and customers directly and simply ask them for a link, or permission to host an article on their blog.  We won’t lie, this is hard work and why so many companies need an Internet Marketing partnership to succeed.  Establishing relationships and building links takes research and perseverance.  Every link has to count as a high quality and well thought out aspect of your business’s strategy.

In Conclusion

Ecommerce is the future and every component of a popular site has to add up to guarantee success.  This includes a well-designed site, usability, quality content, an online presence and quality links.  With these factors in place, you will be in the best position to thrive in this exciting and fast-paced online marketplace, and your business will reap the rewards of your modernization initiatives.

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