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CAEDC Action Report

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How times have changed

Twenty years ago, businesses were wondering whether or not they needed a website. Ten years ago many wanted one but didn't know how to implement it. Today you need one. You need a fast, accessible website that tells people your story and can help you sell your products or service. You need a professional constructed and highly functional site.

Back in the day, it simply wasn't thought of that any of our customers would ever do anything but show up at your store or pick up the phone with questions.

How times have changed. Now, a business isn't considered legitimate until they have a web presence. No matter what it is you sell, odds are your potential customers are going to visit your website (or someone else's) to narrow their choices and maybe make a purchase decision.

I'm hard pressed to think of an industry or business that doesn't rely on their website as an important part of their marketing plan.

It used to be that you had an opportunity to make the sale when someone walked into your retail location, your salesperson called on a prospect or you answered your phone. But today, a good portion of the sales process has nothing to do with you actively engaging with the potential buyer. They're doing a great deal of their research and actual shopping without you being in the room at all. Much of this is happening on your website, within social networks and with the help of a Google search while your customer is sitting in front of a computer, pad or smart phone. This makes what you put out on the web and accessibility absolutely vital to your business' success.

All of that being said - most websites lack the connectivity and content necessary to function as an extension of your business. They're poorly designed, out of date with current technology, and are hard to navigate. Most businesses think of their website like a junk drawer. They just keep tossing more stuff in there and hope that when someone rummages through it - they can find what they need.

If you'd like your website to be the effective tool you need it to be, consider these best practices:

It should be a remarkable experience: People may be deciding whether or not to do business with you based on their web visit. So you want them to have a memorable and enjoyable experience. Get them to interact with you - give them a quiz, help them find answers to their specific questions or offer them something they might want to share with others. Give them an opportunity to like you on Facebook or pin you on Pinterest. Let your company's personality and brand show through. Make navigation simple and intuitive.

Don't talk about yourself: Talk about your customer's world and how you can improve it. Everything should be presented from their perspective, not yours. You might need an outside perspective to help you identify what truly matters to your audience.

*Make it simple - not every visitor will already be an expert
*Leave them wanting more so they call or send an email
*Keep the content fresh - stale content does not sell
*Cascade your content - start with a little and then let them choose to drill down for more if they want it

Make it easy, no matter the device: Don't assume everyone is using a computer with a large screen. Already a majority of web searches are made on pads or smart phones. Check your site on desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones. Developing a mobile site is crucial and a professional web developer can do that at the same time that your site is developed. Our website, www.cherokeeia.com is equipped to be viewed by all current devices. View us on your computer and then check out the difference from your smart phone. The website is intuitive and adjusts to be viewed differently by each device, automatically. Give your customer more than one way to navigate, use landing pages to help diverse audiences get where they want to go and always put your contact information on each page so your customer can reach out to you if they wish.

Don't let a mediocre website discourage prospects from becoming customers before they even shake your hand.

Best of luck building your amazing new website or revamping your existing site. For further information on this or any other business related topics feel free to contact, Mark Buschkamp at Cherokee Area Economic D