Getting online – creating and managing a website
A website can be an extremely cost-effective way for your business to attract and engage with new customers.
According to 2013-2014 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 31 percent of Australian businesses had a social media presence, 47 had a web presence and 95 percent had Internet access. (Ref: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8129.0)
In this module, you’ll learn how to build, manage, and promote your website to attract more customers, increase sales and secure a strong online presence.
Part 1: Website essentials
In a recent survey of 5000 small to medium sized businesses, people were asked to rate their technology adoption according to five categories. Here’s what they found:
If you want to move up this chain and become a business with a high level of digital awareness, you need to think about how to get your business online now, or how to improve your current online presence.
Building a website 101
It’s now easier than ever to create and manage your own website. Check out www.digitalbusiness.gov.au and click on ‘Creating your website’ for a range of tools and suggestions.
You’ll see there are nine key steps to building a website:
What to think about before creating your website, including the type of website, budget, timeframe and goals.
2. Registering a web address
How to choose and register a suitable domain name.
3. Building your website
Benefits of using a pre-existing template versus working with a web developer to create your own.
4. Design and branding
How to visually communicate your messages and use your website to build on your brand.
5. Creating content
How to structure your website so it’s easy to navigate, and write copy (words on your website) that appeals to your audience.
How to select the right service provider for your business.
7. Going mobile
How to make your website work well on mobile devices.
8. Launching the site
How to market your website and make sure it’s found easily on search engines.
9. Keeping it fresh
How to engage customers with new, fresh and relevant content, and how to track progress with analytics.
Remember, when creating content:
- List your services clearly and concisely.
- Ensure your contact details are easy to find. Include mobile numbers, landline numbers, email addresses and any links to social media sites like Facebook.
- Provide information about your company, including history, resources and testimonials.
You may also want to consider including the following:
- Online payment methods. This is a cost-effective way to make transactions with customers 24 hours a day. (See Module 10)
- Live chat. While this is resource-hungry and requires a dedicated person to interact with customers, it can add a personal touch to your online business. (See Module 12)
- Customers want to find answers when it’s convenient for them. FAQs reduce the time and money spent handling customer service requests by phone or mail.
- A personal message (written or via video) from satisfied customers builds trust and credibility with potential new customers.
A small law firm wants to answer simple legal queries that are posted on their website. They set up real-time Q&A sessions to interact with their customers online. Qualified lawyers give short responses within a 30 minute time frame. If clients need additional help, they can get in touch and make an appointment to meet face-to-face.
Visit www.lawpath.com.au to see how this can work.
Part 2: Managing website content
Gone are the days when you need to know how to write technical programming code to change a few words on your website. It’s now the norm to take control of your own website content through a content management system (CMS). CMS is software that allows you to seamlessly create, edit, review and publish text on your website. It also allows you to manage the structure of your site, the appearance and navigation.
Keeping your website content up-to-date is crucial to keeping your visitors engaged and building your Google ranking. Sites that change and update their content on a regular basis not only give businesses the appearance of being alive and more active, but search engines such as Google give higher emphasis on new and fresh content.
Some of the most popular CMS’s available are:
Part 3 – Online promotion
When customers search for a service online through search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, you want your site to be found easily – preferably in the first few pages. Doing this takes time and a lot of work. There are a number of ways to help your business show up as a result of targeted online searches, such as search engine optimisation and search engine marketing. (See Modules 3 and Modules 6)
If you’re planning on setting up a business website and selling products or services online, these resources may help. All information was current at the time of writing. When you go to any of the links below, you will be leaving the DBK site.
Paypal.com – A tool to help Australian businesses sell online, and to make existing online businesses more successful.
WordPress.com – Fast and easy setup of a website and CMS.