A 2015 Lloyds bank research report found that 47% of UK SMEs don’t have a website. Common reasons cited for this were my trade doesn’t use them, it costs too much money, I don’t have the time and I don’t know how. In 2016 there were 2.5 million UK SMEs of which 2.3 million are micro-businesses employing less than 5 people.

You probably think I’m mad in trying to address this issue in my blog, but don’t assume that, because an SME doesn’t have a website, the owner doesn’t use the internet. Nearly 88% of adults (45.9 million) in the UK have used the internet in the last 3 months. Within this group, the figure rises to 99% for those aged between 18-24.

SME website

Here are 10 reasons why they should invest in a website to sustain and grow their business.

1. The 24 x 7 marketing medium

Maybe your existing customers know you through personal recommendation. But how are you recruiting new customers? All of your customers use the internet on a daily basis for a variety of reasons. A website is a multi-purpose marketing platform that showcases your business 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

2. Enable prospective customers to find you

So what if I don’t know anyone who knows you, but I live locally and I need your business service now? I grab my smartphone and I search for your trade or service local to me. Would I find you if you don’t have a locally optimised website?

3. A website will add value to your business

Have you heard the expression: “Never judge a book by its cover”? That’s because we do and it is human nature to make value judgements. You can directly influence value judgements with a good website. And that includes positively influencing your suppliers, your bank manager as well as other business associates and customers.

4. Lower your business costs

That’s right. You can replace a physical presence for your business with a virtual presence, reducing the setup and recurrent costs of your business. You can also trade globally while still operating locally and having a website will reduce your overall marketing costs.

5. Let your customers work for you

If you garner good reviews from your customers you can post them online. A recommendation is your most valuable marketing asset and your website enables you to extend the power and reach of personal recommendation.

6. Join up your social networks

Almost all websites now come with preloaded social media icons that enable you to connect your website and social media networks. Your website has become a powerful tool to integrate all of your online activities with the potential to grow the business with digital marketing.

7. Better customer communication

You can update your customers with your special offers, promotions and new products and services. The website can offer potential customers various options for contacting. You can monitor all of these from your own smartphone meaning you need never miss potential new business.

8. Email marketing

With your own website, you can have your own email. What’s more, you can capture all your customers’ email contacts and then use your database to further promote your business through email marketing. It’s easier and more cost effective to sell more to existing customers than it is to generate new customers.

9. Competitor advantage

So we know that 48% of other SMEs don’t have a website. Get one and instantly you have a competitive advantage! Develop and utilize your website effectively and you can even run rings around some of your bigger competitors.

10. A website is easy to build

You don’t need to have any technical knowledge to build your own website as most domain sites like GoDaddy and 123-reg.co.uk provide simple cost-effective, pre-designed sites. These static websites can be up and running in as little as one hour. Alternatively, you can build a larger portfolio site using WordPress which comes with industry-specific themes or templates.
Finally, if you can’t afford the time, hire a  good website designer.

 

These days you need to do more than just have a static website to promote your business. Here I explore some essential website marketing tools and tips to drive traffic to your site & increase your sales conversion ratio.

In June 2006, Matt Mullenweg launched WordPress: the open source website development and publishing platform. Little over a decade later it has become the website CMS of choice, used by 28% of all website managers globally. In making it open-source, Matt showed remarkable marketing foresight calculating correctly that the advantages of the system would attract like minded developers, co-promoters and brand ambassadors.

WordPress is free, relatively easy to use and there are literally thousands of “themes” or design templates to choose from

There are also lots of handy tools or “plug-ins” to add that make managing your website simplicity itself.

So, I’ll assume as a SME you have, or soon will have, a shiny new website. Now what are you going to do with it? It’s a bit like your first car purchase, you love the fresh polished showroom look and don’t ever want to get it dirty. But you didn’t buy it just to park it in your garage, right? Yet that’s effectively what many website owners do failing to integrate the site it into their business marketing strategy. This article will show you:

6 ways you can promote your website and utilize it as a vehicle to drive web traffic and business growth

 

Step #1 – Market test your website

Before launching and promoting your website to the world, it is worth checking that your website is fully functional and user friendly. Test it out by inviting trusted friends to visit the site and give you critical feedback. If necessary, ask them to fill in a questionnaire using Survey Monkey. In this way you will be able to determine if critical feedback is just one person’s opinion or the informed view of many.

What should you be looking for? What do they think of the overall design? How does the content read to them? Is the tone right? Can they easily navigate their way around the site? Is anything missing? Remember, web designers tend to focus on design rather than content, on features, rather than customer experience and utilize stock, web sourced images rather than shooting photographs unique to your business.

It’s easy to end up with a wonderful looking site only to discover down the line that you’re driving a Mondeo. Don’t be afraid to be different!

 

Step #2 – SEO the race for speed

When it comes to websites, speed is of the essence. A 2016 study on page loading times suggested that a 1 second delay in page loading could lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. Viewer attention spans have dropped to an average of just 12 seconds, so time spent waiting for your site to load may reduce time customers spent on the site. With good SEO your site will be more Maserati than Mondeo.

So let’s begin by checking your site loading time. Just because your site loads quickly on your computer doesn’t mean it will on everyone else’s. Check from an independent source such as Pingdom. Anything over 3 seconds is problematic, while under 2 seconds is ideal. You’ll also be able to read a report highlighting areas you need to address to speed up site loading time.

What if your loading time is seven seconds? Well, as Corporal Jones would say, “Don’t panic!”

There are generally 3 issues you can fix quickly. These are: graphics; website caching and coding.

 

Step #3 – Create compress & cache

Photographs and graphic images take up the biggest part of your page size when requested. Often photographs have been saved at too high a resolution for website viewing. Another common mistake is that they’ve been saved at the right resolution but are being resized on the page rather than installed at the right size. These are small matters and easily fixed once identified. You can use a programme such as TinyPing to further compress your images before uploading them to your site.

WordPress pages are “dynamic,” meaning they’re built on the fly every time someone visits a page on your website. To construct a page, WordPress has first to request it, then process the received information, build a unitary page and finally display it. However, you can address this by utilizing a caching tool like WP Super Cache. This will save the last version of the page or cache from the first request, to serve to each subsequent visitor, thus reducing loading time.

Once running, cache loading should speed up page loading time by 2X to 5X

I know very little about coding, but fortunately you don’t have to either, to fix some common problems.

website: Autoptimise dashboard

A couple of WordPress plugins I’d recommend are Autoptimize and WP Sweep. The former will take care of CSS and Javascript optimising on your website. It concatenates the CSS and JavaScript code, and compresses it. The latter deals with all those revisions and changes that you have made, which still operate in the background when loading. WP Sweep literally sweeps them away improving speed.

 

Step #4 – New content attracts visitors

You remember that new car I mentioned at the start of this article? Well, it’s nearly time to take it out of the garage and go for a spin. But just before you do, remember that on longer journeys you may need to stop to refuel! It’s just the same with your website, every so often you need to add new content. The best way to do this is by publishing a blog or news section. In fact, a business with a blog will receive 7 times as much traffic as one without.

A business with a blog will receive 7 times as much traffic as one without

So what at are you going to blog about? Tell your customers about why you started your business. What motivated you and what you are passionate about. Remember, for sole traders and SMEs, in many ways you are the brand. Write about new products or promotions and invite your reader and customers to give you feedback. If you provide a professional service, why not blog about tips and tools your customers can use to use to make their lives easier. We are all on the same journey after all, just traveling in different cars!

 

Step #5– Use social media to drive traffic

The rise of social media has transformed marketing, creating new opportunities for customer interaction and the relatively new field of digital marketing. Indeed, many SMEs have a business Facebook page but no website. I believe this is short sighted. You own a website and over time it will become as valuable a resource to you as a bricks and mortar site. It therefore is worth investing in to maximise your competitive advantage.

You own a website and over time it will become as valuable a resource to you as a bricks and mortar site

Use your social media to drive traffic to the website, to promote your blog and to engage in two way conversation with your customers. Facebook is particularly good for B2C marketing and its advertising features lend themselves to sales promotion. You should combine it with other marketing campaigns to reinforce the brand.

LinkedIn is a professional networking social media that’s better suited to B2B marketing. Together with Twitter, these have the greatest number of subscribers in Britain and Ireland. My advice would be to focus on no more than 2 or 3 media that match your customers’ profile, rather than spread yourself too thin. Ensure that the social media icons are prominently placed on your website and particularly in your blogs for easy sharing purposes.

 

Step #6 – Using search engines to rank locally

When you are ready to launch your website, make sure you promote it across the web. Register your site with key search engines. A quick way to do this, is with Entire Web which will notify multiple search engines for you. Remember too, that when you publish each new blog posting you should use Entire Web to notify the search engines of fresh content. Do this by submitting your blog URL, in my case linengreenmarketing.com/blog
Think about promoting yourself locally. You can do this on the web with online directories like:

Google My Business
Bing Places
Yellow Pages

Each offer additional paid for premium services but the basic registration is free and very effective.

You can very quickly achieve a good ranking on local searches

There are many more but I’m in danger of developing repetitive strain injury. If you follow the above simple steps you will soon be driving traffic to your website.

Happy motoring!