Growing through website
Developing a solid website for the professional services firm isn’t a simple task, but creating a website that helps in growing the business is even more challenging. Every firm has its own, unique challenges. Fit-for-all, plug-and-play-style online web builders and plugins are rarely up to the task of helping firms grow.
Principals and top management, however, tend to compromise and adapt their requirements to whatever is currently available on the market and refrain from spending resources and effort on developing what’s best for their firms. This problem, at least in part, is a consequence of the absence of the knowledge of available options.
In this article we will look both into the most obvious ways of how a website can help with developing the business and some advanced use cases few leaders are aware of.
If your firm doesn’t have a website yet, I would suggest reading this article to figure out why you may want a professional website for your business.
Simple, obvious ways to grow business online
Create and Share content
Producing valuable content on your website and making it easy for people to share is a great way to attract new visitors who could either spread the word further or might even become clients. Incorporating the means to copy links, send emails or share on social media will have an impact on the growth of your business online.
Increase Traffic to Decrease your Marketing costs
By gradually increasing the traffic to your website and providing a reason for your target audience to come back you are decreasing your marketing costs that would have otherwise been spent on reacquiring the same people — be it through Social Media remarketing or search engine click-bids. Having reduced the costs, you’d be able to devote resources to other marketing channels that will help in growing the business.
Use online Maps
The number of people searching for local businesses and products through maps is increasing. Creating a business profile on Google or Bing maps, adding a few images, a description and link to your website will increase your visibility, online presence and will eventually drive some additional traffic.
Create a Mobile-friendly Web app
The number of mobile users is growing; the amount of business transaction on mobile devices is increasing as well. To be in the game and even benefit from additional traffic search engines are likely to provide, you should invest resources in creating a modern, responsive, mobile-friendly web application. Your website will experience both the increase in the number of visitors and a decrease in the bounce rate.
Craft unique User Experience
Websites that get a lot of traffic, especially e-commerce web apps, suffer immensely from high bounce rates, abandoned carts, drop-offs — all due to templated, clumsy, progress impeding UX design. Invest resources to create great user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) and, as data suggests, it will pay off. Pages with thought-through, personalized user journeys have much higher conversion rates in comparison to generic, me-too e-commerce layouts.
Prioritize business objectives
Your company probably doesn’t have unlimited funds — you’d have to compromise and sacrifice some things to give resources to other, more important activities. And that’s OK. Don’t start a blog unless you are positive it makes sense — you would have to keep writing regularly for at least a year to get palpable results. Make payment transactions as smooth and as trustworthy as possible if you are selling things online. Insure your phone lines are available at all times if your objective is to schedule a call. Focus on the most important objectives and set aside all would-ne-nice-to-have ones.
Install chat bots
There is a large variety of chat bots that provide (when done right) a friendlier and easier way for your website visitors to achieve their goals. Asking a question and getting an answer fast is what everyone loves. Some of these bots provide a chat-like interface to respond to incoming messages in real time, saving a lot of time both for visitors and your employees. A chat bot is a great opportunity to ask for zero-data from the visitor — their email or phone number. It also comes in handy for sending a promotional link in a casual sort of way.
Optimize your website for search engines
Search engines will drive visitors to your digital doors regardless of what you do. But you can make their lives easier or harder. By making your web pages SEO-friendly you allow web crawlers to gather enough information so that the search engine could make a better guess at who might be interested in visiting your website. The basic elements you’d want to keep in order are: page titles and descriptions, headings, emphasized words, working links, proper images, valid sitemap and schema. This year (2021) Google is gradually rolling out their new metrics — Core Web Vitals, which would focus on User Experience and will effect page rankings (SERP), which, in turn, have a direct impact on your business.
Get User Feedback
Ask for user feedback through comments, forms, chats and emails in order to better understand your target audience. Improve your offer using this feedback. To grow your online presence you have to satisfy the most pressing needs of your core target audience. Those stakeholders, who are truly happy with what your company does, will help your business grow by spreading the word and coming back for more.
Improve website load speed
The data on this topic is univocal — the faster the website loads, the more visitors it gets and the more sales or other business transactions occur. We have published our own article on the matter — Why it is important to have a fast website.
For those of you who were prudent enough to act-upon these obvious ways of improvement, here is a couple of more advanced business tips that will help your company become successful.
Advanced, subtle ways to grow your business through website
Develop Conversion strategy
Examine your most important web pages thoroughly and go through the discovery, awareness, doubt, denial, acceptance steps in your visitor’s shoes. Create business objectives for each page and AB test your hypothesis.
Engage in Conversations
People love being heard and hate being neglected. Your business needs feedback from your customers. Why not create circumstances and conditions that would encourage your visitors to express their opinions and ask questions on the subject? People who care about your products or services are typically the ones who will participate and are usually the ones who you’d want to have around.
Gather Zero-party data
Zero-party data is the type of data that visitors of your webpage have shared with your business voluntarily, consensually and unambiguously. This type of data is very valuable for every business as it allows bridging the gaps between the customer and business. Zero-party data can be obtained through contact forms, quizzes, comments, polls and creative email campaigns.
By gathering data on your visitors, subscribers or users, be it through first-party or zero-party data, you can deploy a functionality that makes user experience slightly different for groups of people. For instance, an online pet store could automatically redirect dog owners to the section with dog treats or display more dog related products on other pages when the user had provided consent to such personalization. It’s a win for the user that translates into a win for the business.
Make it better through sharing
Some products are pretty much worthless unless shared with another person: a fax machine works best if you have someone to send a fax to, an email works great when you know another email address. It is a challenging task to come up with meaningful ways for your visitors to benefit from using your website together with other people, but highly rewarding when done right. Anyone using these shareable products feels a lot better using it together with someone else. Products like Zoom and Fortnite are great examples.
Personalize the experience
Based on zero-data, provided with user consent, your company can create a totally different user experience for each individual; you can create what would look like a totally different website if you like — the possibilities are limitless. It goes without saying that this sort of attention inevitably justifies the price tag of product or service.
Crawl for Data
Create custom crawlers to gather data, necessary to make more prudent business decisions. The possibilities of web crawlers and scrapers are vast. You could analyze price fluctuations, compare data from multiple sources, accumulate huge data sets of products, ratings, reviews, comments and contact details — obtain any publically available information that would help you attain your business objectives faster and more efficiently.
Teach AI-chat bots
There are AI-powered chat bots out there that learn the nuts and bolts of your business and will answer the most frequent questions for you. Eventually, you could cut down on the number of customer support people, saving you a sackful of money. These employees could also attend to other, more pressing business matters.
Focus on business objectives
It might seem trivial, but a lot of times this matter is overlooked. Home and landing pages get cluttered with chants of greatness with no regard to the needs, objections or goals of the visitor. Take your time to think through what it is that your visitor came here for, to this particular page, then figure out how to lead them toward the attainment of that goal while simultaneously making sure that most of their arguments are addressed.
Communicate through Various Channels
Some visitors prefer to use messengers rather than email, some people prefer to respond to text instead of answering the phone call — you can develop various ways of reaching your target audiences. You could even sequence the events based on responses or triggers. For example, your web app could send an email, track its delivery time, then if not opened, send a different variant after a certain period of time, then if not opened again send a text message (SMS).
Automate mundane Processes
Every employee has a dreadful list of awfully boring, reoccurring tasks they have to contend with on a regular basis. You could automate many repetitive tasks, making your employees more productive and happier. All kinds of spreadsheet reports, that are the usual source of ennui, could be automated, at least to a degree. As another example, handling of the incoming orders can be automated as well — all necessary paperwork could be printed out automatically prior to notifying the responsible person.
Every web page can host a script that tracks user behaviour. It is possible to know how long each visitor spends on each page, what they click, where they have scrolled to, etc. This is an incredible source of information that could be used to improve user experience, increase conversion rates and reach business goals.
When you don’t want a specific type of customer to engage with your company, you can, e.g., qualify the incoming leads by multiple choice options in forms. Another way of qualifying prospects is through the design, aesthetics, the look & feel of your website. All of that would implicitly hint at the level of service your company provides inferring the price tag.
Nurture a Direct connection
It is great to have a social media marketing strategy in place, but keep in mind that your primary objective is to ensure that your company has established a direct connection with the target audience. You wouldn’t want to excessively rely on the benevolence of social networks to communicate with your most important asset. Your friends and followers — they belong to Social media, not you.
Create a robust system of notifications that would allow your team to make changes and decisions faster. From low in stock SKUs, to back in stock items, to missing data, to payment failures, to new subscriptions — anything you want to be notified about through your email, text or phone call — it’s all a possibility.
Create Marketing Funnels
Growing companies that have thousands of users can implement custom sales or marketing funnels on their web applications to segment their prospects and improve on communication, sales and customer service. You can create triggers, events, conditions — anything you need to streamline your processes toward efficiency.
You can setup your web application to fetch data from third-party providers: Google, Twitter, Instagram, Salesforce — you name it, and integrate the results into whatever tools, reports and spreadsheets your business might require. But you could also create your own APIs to share data across your company’s divisions or feed it to external services. Access data, extract data, merge data, publish data — “Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew” — the sky’s the limit.
The main argument of an average small business owner is this — these business tips are great, but we can’t afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for this kind of advanced software. Indeed, there are software companies that charge hundreds of thousands, but their products are too complex, meant for enterprise-level companies and have way too many features that SMEs don’t need at all.
Small and medium size professional services firms actually can afford to have custom-made software developed to solve their specific business challenges.They just aren’t aware of that.
Build your own, unique Digital Office
Implementing these simple and at least some of the advanced steps will set your business on the right path of moving your company toward a robust digital office. The earlier you’d start adopting and experimenting with new technologies, the more agile your company gets.
Those business processes that are crucial to the sustainability of your business could get enhanced by custom-made digital tools. There is absolutely no need to comply with the standard, out-of-the-box solutions that have been created for everyone; your business problems are unique to you and deserve a personalized approach.
Does a good, well-designed website increase business?
Of course it does, providing you have strategies in place to drive traffic to it. No one would just type your domain name out of the blue. People are busy with their own lives and problems. There has to be a good reason for anyone to show up. Put yourself into your potential customer’s shoes. Would you linger on a slow-loading, buggy, revolting website or would you rather leave at once and never come back? A well-designed website will make your visitors stay a little longer increasing the probability of whatever business objectives you had set to occur.
How much of an impact does a website have on business growth?
Depends on the business, of course, but it’s rather easy to calculate. Take a number of clients or customers that had made a purchase or a transaction on your website and compare it to the total number of visitors to calculate your conversion rates.
If your business has brick & mortar point of sale, compare the foot traffic to transactions and then compare it with your online results. Keep in mind that it is extremely easy for your website visitors to leave your digital premises — much easier than leaving the physical ones which they had already invested time and effort to get to.
Not only do the website transactions drive additional, new types of clients and customers, they also enhance the experiences they have across other, physical touch points with your business. If these digital experiences suck, the overall image and value of your company diminishes.
To summarize the above and to provide you with the essentials, here is a list of activities we (here at awezzom) consider to be of utmost importance to start growing your business online:
11 ideas to grow your business online
- Automate repetitive, time-consuming processes
- Integrate third party services through API
- Gather more Zero-party data
- Improve User Experience
- Implement Core Web Vitals and basic SEO
- Nurture direct connections with your target audience
- Develop conversion strategy
- Create Marketing Funnels
- Activate trackers and analytics
- Make your website load faster
- Increase traffic to decrease your marketing costs