In the same way the eyes are the window to a person’s soul, within a few seconds, a website can tell a customer—or potential customer—all about the soul of your business. That’s why it’s critical to understand what people need and want from your small business’ site—and what will make them click away to a competitor.
Ross Marchant of BrightLocal, a search and software firm that focuses on local results, says that all consumers require the same basic information when they visit a website: products and services offered, prices, phone number, and physical address — otherwise known as “the four Ps.”
“Secondary to that, your ‘nice-to-haves’ include having a good looking website, clear working hours, having images of the place of business and including useful content such as company info, customer testimonials and FAQs,” Marchant says.
By understanding who your customers are, you can get a better read on what they want. BrightLocal recently conducted a study and found that the age and gender of a customer determine what’s important to them. For example:
- Those customers in the 18-34 year-old range are more likely contact a business with a website. If there’s no site, or the site is unattractive, they are less likely to do business with that company.
- Consumers over 55 assign more credibility when a website looks “smart,” but they don’t care at all about website videos and social media associated with the site.
- Women are more insistent than men that a website gives a business more credibility.
- How a website looks is more important for men and younger consumers than it is for women and older consumers.
- A clean, good-looking site with photos is more appealing to younger consumers.
The study showed that only 5 percent of all people surveyed care about pictures of employees, a blog, accreditation, pictures of the business, or customer testimonials.
Customers indicated they’re frustrated with poor content quality, when critical information such as phone number, emails, addresses, and prices aren’t listed. They also didn’t like slow and bug-riddled sites.
“These are common and costly mistakes, but you also need to consider who you are targeting,” Marchant says. “For example, younger consumers are less likely to want to use your business if the website doesn’t function correctly on a mobile phone, whilst older consumers (55+) are more deterred by poor quality content. It’s often common sense, but we see the same mistakes crop up over and over again.”
Have a Strategy
As with any other aspect to running your business, a solid strategy for your website will help. “So many small business owners will get a website made, focus hard during the build phase, and then practically forget about it after that. This is a big error. Building your site is just the start,” Marchant says. “To make a website successful at gaining visitors, it’s important to have a content plan. This means creating and publishing content that will be useful to customers and help to gain authority in Google.”
He suggests creating relevant sections that can evolve as your business does. This might include new product pages, location pages, FAQs, company news, and a blog that can set you apart from competition. “If you can continue to grow your website and make it a living, breathing part of your business, then you are likely to see benefits in not only user engagement but more importantly, improved search rankings.”