So, you’re ready to take your business online and join the virtual world. Yeah! The Internet is a great tool for a small business because there are so many ways to target local customers with your small business website.
Like other tools you evaluate before using them in your business the Internet is no different. Proper planning and understanding is crucial to your success online. If you think that you’ll just put up a website and start blogging and customers will come running – I got news for you and you’re not going to like it.
When you are starting a small business website, there are a number of things to consider, like goals for your website.
Here are three more questions you’ll need to think about before you jump in:
Should You Design it Yourself?
Outsourcing the design is more expensive. However, it might be smart if you don’t have experience with it. There are plenty of companies that will do it relatively cheaply.
The cost depends on the site. Some can be done for $200 or less, whereas others will run you $5000 or more. It simply depends on how elaborate you want the site to be.
And the third option is to get software that will essentially build it for you. It costs a little, but it doesn’t require a lot of technical skills. Software is great for most simple websites.
How Do You Get Targeted Traffic?
There are a number of strategies that work. SEO is one of the most popular. This is probably the least effective for a local business website, because of the scarcity of “area specific” keywords. However, if there are enough searches it might work.
An “area specific” keyword is one that has a location in it. Examples would be “Newark bunk beds”, “Chicago golf courses”, etc. But this is usually going to be fairly limited, because there will probably only be a few good area specific terms.
To really boost your traffic, do a pay per click campaign with “geo-targeting”. This means you will only show up for a keyword when somebody in your location searches for it.
So if you geo-target Newark for the keyword “bunk beds”, you will only appear when somebody from Newark types this in. If somebody from Chicago searches for”bunk beds”, you won’t show up. Finally, you can use other methods to market your online business offline direct mail campaigns, as well as classifieds to get visitors.
How do You Make Money From Your Site?
That will require good marketing skills. Make sure the site is easy to navigate, and that the prices are competitive. This is particularly important if you are selling a commodity product. If you have specialty goods, you can charge more.
One thing you might want to do is split test different pages in pay per click, and see which page converts the best. Just test different features on the site, and see what works and what doesn’t. This will help your maximize your conversions.
The Bottom Line
It’s better not to restrict yourself to one location. However, if your business is not designed to handle customers around the globe, implementing these three tips is how to target local customers and have a thriving small business website.
If you would like a little more guidance in starting a small business website, we’ve have an entire series (with workbook) to help you put together a Simple Business Plan. And of course, you can send me an email if you have any questions.