When was the last time you updated your website? If you haven’t really thought about or done much to it in the last couple of years, I have some bad news: it’s probably time to start thinking about a fresh look.

I know, some of you may be groaning inwardly. For many small business owners a website is a huge investment of time and money. You’ve worked hard to get the site up and running, and you’ve put a lot of energy into getting traffic to your corner of the online world. You may even have checked it off your to-do list, but before you do that, hear me out.

Is your website serving your customers?

While keeping a current website can feel like a never-ending process, in today’s tech-savvy world it’s critical to evaluate your site at least once a year to make sure it’s serving your customers, and ultimately your business, as well as it possibly can. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

This means not only keeping the site up-to-date and looking fresh, but also considering whether there are enough activities for visitors to engage in when they arrive. And this is where the change happens fast. You may have set your website up with the latest and greatest look and tools last year, but is it still working? People get bored quickly, so what worked last year may not be yielding the same results today.

With that in mind, take the time to do a quick audit.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure the work you put into tools like a website are truly helping your business grow. Of course you need a website for branding, credibility and general awareness. But a properly managed website can do so much more for you.

As you’re doing your audit, here are some things to consider:

  • It’s not unlikely that there is more than one item to explore on your homepage — is it clear what first step you want all visitors to take?
  • Is there a call-to-action above the fold (meaning it is visible without visitors having to scroll down the page)?
  • Do you have a mobile version of your site? It’s important to make sure you adjust font sizes or photo placements if need be to make sure mobile visitors get the same experience as desktop visitors. You need to check this because what works on a desktop won’t necessarily work on a mobile device.
  • Is there something on your homepage to engage a visitor who checks your page out today, but might not buy for weeks or even months?
  • Do you have an offer to help first-time visitors get to know you better?
  • Do you have some kind of lead magnet or offer that will encourage people to join your email list?
  • Are you using video or some interactive content on your homepage to help people understand your expertise?
  • Do you have a landing page? A place where you can focus on promotions without changing your homepage?
  • Are you leveraging header or footer bars to notify visitors throughout the site of any specials, promotions or major announcements?

Your website should play a major role in your growth strategy and have its own purpose, and by that I mean there should be a trackable way that it is contributing to your overall business strategy.

While it’s nice to give people an overview of what you do, it’s even more important that you focus on trying to get visitors to take an action. If someone has taken the time to come to your site, make sure you give them something to do (other than read).

If you’ve done your audit and have found your site lacking, don’t despair! Here are a few suggestions for making it more actionable, so that ultimately it will bring you more business.

Allow your visitors to get their feet wet. Let your website visitors interact with your business in a way that enables them get to know you without making too much of a commitment. This might mean giving them something free (but useful) to download or encouraging them to sign up for a free course or webinar. It might mean engaging them in a challenge or a social media conversation that you are hosting.

This approach allows you to start building rapport with potential customers, which is critical, considering that most sales are fueled by some type of engagement with your brand that has impressed the buyer. Keeping that top of mind, watch for ways you can actively create golden moments where visitors can learn what you have to offer and how it can help them — and feature them on your website! This works for both service-based and product-based businesses.

Make sure your site is not an obstacle course. Some people who visit your site will already be on the path to buy; but a good thing to look closely at is whether there are obstacles in their way. Your website should help to remove those obstacles, or provide a path around them.

A common tool to use in this situation is a discovery call. This is not a free consult, but an opportunity to talk about customers’ needs and whether your product or service can help meet those needs. It’s really a way to explore the potential of working together. If yours is more of a transactional business, you might use an online chat to facilitate the same process.

Another tool I love for getting customers where they need to go is the “live chat”. If a visitor is lost or has a question, for example, they can get their issue resolved by launching a chat. This is a feature that can be integrated into your existing website for free (or a nominal fee), so it doesn’t have to be costly. In addition, you don’t necessarily have to hire anyone to manage this — you can turn the live chat on during the hours you work, or when your team is available. Plus, most live chat tools will send a notice to your phone, so you can jump on your computer if a chat is initiated while you are away from your desk.

Set your site up to sell! Does every page of your site have a call to action? This doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) a tacky, flashing BUY NOW gif – there are lots of ways to do this tastefully, and one of my favorite is header/footer bars.

Header/footer bars are one of the most effective and easiest ways to drive action and lead generation on your website, and you don’t have to redesign your whole site to incorporate them. You can use them to put out different offers and information; they are a way to include a bit of a sales blurb that isn’t too “in your face”.

Create a resource library. This might be a blog or articles on a page with downloadable files. The idea is to create a place on your site where people can get more in-depth help and information. This section doesn’t have to be updated daily or weekly — it can be a section that you maintain throughout the year. The key is making sure your customers perceive your site as a valuable resource that they can use and share with others.

Don’t feel obligated to post daily or weekly if you aren’t a blogger; instead use the blog feature on your site to publish posts that aren’t date-sensitive. If yours isn’t a news site most of your content will remain relevant over time. QUICK PRO TIP: Hide the published date on all posts, so they don’t seem outdated.

Use subdomains of your site to create landing pages or hubs for higher-end services or products. Using subdomains is a great way to help customers get more information about your services, as well as streamline things so visitors can quickly find what they need. It creates pathways for customers to go directly to the area of interest without feeling like they are going through multiple pages of the site.

We use this tactic on veganmainstream.com, and we find it works really well. For example, if someone wants to see our webinars, we send them to a subdomain homepage (webinars.veganmainstream.com). Here they can see all the information we have to offer on webinars, but still access the homepage and other areas of the site via the header and footer. Our goal is to get people to the part of our site that allows them to find what they need with limited distractions (without cutting them off from the rest of the site completely).

Once you’ve done your audit, you’ll have a good grasp on what needs to be done to update your website and keep it relevant for your visitors. As you likely understand at this point, there really is no getting around it: in order to serve your business most effectively, your website should be updated at least every two years. Keep in mind, if you update it frequently not only will it keep your brand looking fresh and relevant, but you may also save you on costs like tools, plugins and software as they become more efficient.

It may have been a painful process launching your last website, and for that reason you might not be eager to revisit that experience any time soon. However, the reality is that the digital space continues to be the place where people do their research on products, services and brands. So do yourself a favor and ask yourself honestly, are you putting your best foot forward?

TAKE ACTION

Do an audit of your site, and choose one or two low-hanging fruit that you can work on updating today!

This article is part of the Vegan Mainstream Essentials Guide, Marketing Madness. Download all the articles in this collection, here:

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