What is the Real Purpose of Your Small Business Website? Online Marketing Success

From the hundreds of small business owners that I have worked with to establish their online presence, I have found that the typical owner quickly gets caught up with trying to make their website ‘cooler’ than their competitors. They worry about color schemes, layouts and fancy mouseover effects. If that isn’t enough, they get bogged down with other perks like flash animations and javascripts that do more to entertain the visitor than they do to help the visitor.

When asked what the real purpose of their website is, the typical small business owner is hard pressed to provide an answer. Unable to answer that question, they often fail to answer how entertaining their website visitor will add value to the bottom line of their small business. The truth of the matter is that all the ‘pixel fireworks’ will do nothing for their business.

As a business owner, you must consider that your website visitor is really a qualified prospect. They must be. Otherwise, why would they be visiting your website? When I say qualified prospect, I mean that they have some interest in your product or service. With literally millions of websites online, if they are at your website, they must have an interest in what you are selling. Although every visitor may not be ready to purchase or do business with you right at that time, they must have an interest in what you are selling, right?

Now compare your website to how you handle prospects that call your company. What do you do when a potential client or prospect calls you on the phone? Of course you answer their questions and help guide them to the correct solution for their problem. But don’t you at least get their name and phone number to follow up with them later? You may even get their mailing address so you can send them your brochures or the product information they are interested in. In short, you have just qualified that prospect as a sales lead.

So why would you operate your company website any other way? The real purpose of your company website is to generate those sales leads, just like when potential customers call you on the phone.

Yes, your website showcases your products. If prepared properly, your website also includes additional product information like installation or operating instructions. Your website goes on to show visitors the entire array of products or services that you offer. But in short, the real purpose of your company website should be to generate that sales lead. After all, they are qualified because they are at your website. You must, at the very least, get their contact information to follow up with them.

How do you do that? The best run company websites will encourage their visitors to sign up to a company newsletter. Typically, they entice the visitor by offering some sort of product information or other resource that is valuable information that their customers want. The information or resource that is offered for free is typically called a ‘Lead Generation Magnet’. The visitor signs up to the opt-in e-mail list in order to download that information.

Once signed up through your website, you have the contact information for that prospect. You can continue to follow up with them by e-mail (just as you would have by phone), usually using a combination of preprogrammed auto responder messages and e-mail broadcasts that keep your name in front of your prospects on a regular basis.

Developing your auto responder series and marketing to your list of prospects is beyond the scope of this article. However, what is important for small business owners to understand is that your company website visitors are really qualified prospects. Capturing their contact information and developing that sales lead is not just one of the reasons you have a company website. It should really be considered as the only reason you have a company website. Of course, that is only if you are interested in expanding your business online!

Live, Love and Profit from Your Passion; Otherwise it’s just another job!