Some things to consider about building a small business website
So you own a small business in Los Angeles, and you’ve been thinking that
It may be time to set yourself up on the internet. But where do you begin? There are different kinds of websites for different kinds of businesses with very different goals. When you set out to build a website for your business, there are some questions you should ask yourself (and your web designer) to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.
Do You Need a Website?
This may seem like a stupid question to ask, especially in 2011. The obvious answer is that everyone needs a website, especially small business owners in Los Angeles. But stop and think about it for a second. There are plenty of businesses who get by just fine without a website. I can count on waiting at the barbershop where I get my hair cut. The Indian takeout place down the street has a line out the door just about every night. The car repair place on the corner has a lot full of passenger and fleet vehicles waiting for service every day. The donut place I visit (only once a week, I swear) across the street has a steady stream of customers from 3:30 in the morning until they close at 7:00 at night. None of these places has a website, and they all seem to be doing fine.
So the first thing you need to ask yourself is whether your business is the kind that needs a website at all. Are you primarily serving your local neighborhood, or do you want to be known across LA? Do you have enough business to keep your employees busy, or are you looking to expand? Do you have a great thing going that you think more people in Los Angeles need to know about? If you’re doing well, don’t jump onto the internet just because everyone else is. If you’re ready to expand, or if you aren’t sure if a website is the right move, give the experts at Coalition Technologies in Los Angeles a call. They can consult with you to determine your needs, and design a website (or not) to help grow your business.
How will your website grow your business?
If you own or operate a business, you should know by now that this is the first question to ask about any move you make. Websites, like any improvement, are an investment in your business. You want to make sure that you get a good return, and that ultimately your investment pays off. Do you want your website to act primarily as a marketing tool: informing customers about your products and services in a way that makes them want to buy? Do you want it to be a social media hub: a place where your customers can ask questions, provide feedback, and interact with one another? Do you want it to be a source of revenue, either by selling ads or through eCommerce functionality? No matter what form your website ultimately takes, your goal should be to increase your customer base and your cash flow. So the question you need to consider is how to best use your website to do that. Because there are so many different ways to build a profitable website, this should be the first question you have with your web designer. Expert web designers like the ones at Coalition Technologies in Los Angeles are well versed in the variety of options, and they can help you pick the right website to grow your business.
What do you want your website to do? Once you determine that you do, in fact, need a website for your business, they next big question is what you want out of it. There are many different kinds of functionality for websites. What you want your website to do, and how you want your customers to interact with it will determine how it is designed and built, and what kind of marketing you will need to do. Again, how this question is answered will depend on the type of business you have, and what you want to do with it.
Build your brand — This is the most basic function of a business website. Building your brand means letting your customers know what products you sell, what services your offer, what your business is all about. These types of websites help you establish your identity, and help your customers sort you out from your competitors. Part of branding is establishing a personality for your business. Consider Italian restaurants. Branding can tell customers if a restaurant features old-world Italian cooking, or bold, modern Italian fusion cuisine. Branding can tell your customers if you are a romantic candlelit getaway for couples, or a neighborhood bistro for the whole family. The way your website is designed can quickly inform customers who you are, what you do, and if you are the right business for them. Coalition Technologies can build a custom website to advertise your products, services, and your unique brand.
Help your customers find you — If your business is focused on your local area, then you want to be sure that local customers can find you. When customers are looking for a local business, they will enter keywords into their search bar to specify the type of business and the local area they are looking for. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can ensure that your business lands near the top of the results for local searches. By providing quality content that also contains the terms that your customers are looking for, SEO ensures that your customers click on you first. Coalition Technologies in Los Angeles has a multistep process for analyzing keyword trends related to your business, and optimizing your website to increase traffic.
Keep in touch with your customers — Regular customers are regulars for a reason: they love your business and the products or services that you offer. Keeping them excited about your business means keeping them informed about what’s going on. Regular email newsletters can keep your customers current on the newest products and updated services that you offer, and drive them to your door. Targeted email campaigns to carefully selected client lists can also grab the attention of potential customers, giving you the opportunity to turn them into regulars. Email campaigns have been proven to work, and you can reach your customers without expensive printing costs, postal rates, or adding to paper waste. Best of all, delivery is instantaneous and scalable, so you can reach ten customers or a million.
You may be thinking, “I hate spam emails, and I don’t want to spam my customers.” That’s a common reaction to the idea of email marketing, but once you start sending out the emails, you will be surprised at how your customers respond. My favorite comic book shop sends out a weekly email with a list of all the new books they’re getting in each week, along with recommendations, news and promotions. And honestly, I look forward to it. Not only do I feel more connected to the shop (the guys who work there all write a little blurb about books they’re reading), but almost every week I find a book that I didn’t know about that I end up picking up because of that email. Coalition Technologies in Los Angeles can help you establish that kind of relationship, and inspire that kind of response, with your customers.
Sell your merchandise online — If you sell products that can be shipped to customers or picked up in-store, eCommerce solutions can add a new revenue stream to your business by allowing customers to purchase your merchandise electronically at their convenience. eCommerce makes your business more accessible to your customers, and more convenient for you. Moreover, eCommerce extends your range, allowing you to market to and do business with customers beyond Los Angeles, meaning you could be doing business nationwide or even globally. There are many eCommerce solutions that can integrate with your PayPal and credit card accounts, update your inventory, and even create shipping labels. The experts at Coalition Technologies can help you choose the right eCommerce solution for your business, and integrate it into your website to make shopping a breeze for your customers, and monitoring orders and shipping a breeze for you.
Get Social — These days, you need more that a website to keep in touch with your customers. You also need a presence on the most popular social media networks to keep the information flowing and keep the conversation going. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, and Twitter have hundreds of millions of users, each one of them a potential customer, if you know how to go after them. Establishing a presence on these networks is usually just as simple as starting a free account. But managing your social presence in a way that grows your brand, excites your customers, and attracts new ones takes experience. Fortunately, the experts at Coalition Technologies have a thorough understanding of how these useful new tools work, and they can provide you with insight on how to make the most of the social media revolution.
Who is going to build your website?
Now that you know what kind of web presence you want, you face the daunting task of actually putting your business website together. Fortunately, as in many other business decisions you will make, you have a wide variety of options. But since your website is going to be part of the public face of your company (and a large part of it, at that), you want to be sure that you spend your time and money wisely to get the best performance out of your business website, and the best value for your money.
Being a business owner, you are used to doing things yourself, even if it means learning how to do it along the way. These days, there are a wide variety of tools that you can use to build a website yourself. You can pick up applications at the electronics store for under a hundred dollars that will give you all the tools you need to build a beautiful and profitable business website. There are even free tools online that you can use to put a website together. But even the most powerful tools aren’t much good if you don’t know how to use them. You could certainly take the time to learn, either by trial and error or by taking a class, but that takes a lot of time and effort that you could be using to run your business. As with a lot of specialized tasks, it is far more cost-effective to hire a professional.
There are also a wide variety of options in hiring someone else to build your business website for you. These days it seems like everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows a little web design or coding. So you could probably get off cheap by hiring a cousin or daughter or boyfriend of one of your employees. But in addition to the pitfalls inherent to hiring someone you know socially, you also can’t be sure what kind of quality you’re going to get by doing this favor for someone.
If you really want good value for your web design dollar, the experts at Coalition Technologies in Los Angeles can deliver a high quality website that will help your business grow. The web designers at Coalition Technologies can design a website that is beautiful, easy to navigate, informative, and reflects the personality and clientele of your business. The search engine experts and professional writers at Coalition Technologies will create targeted and persuasive content to help your customers find you, and convince them to stay when they do. The social media experts at Coalition Technologies will help you establish and maintain a positive social media presence that keeps your customers up to date, and excited, about your business. Drop Coalition Technologies a line today, and see what they can do for you.