Every time a Small Business approaches us asking "How much does a good website cost ?", I feel sorry for them. Not because it is an incomplete question but because they want to jump straight at implementation.
Ideally, businesses should draft an agenda for their Website, plan a strategy and then ask "Can we build a website that aligns with these goals ? And How much does it cost ?"
Whether you Do It Yourself or Hire an Expert, defining what you would like to accomplish with your website, and setting Goals is some thing you can't afford to skip.
Many small businesses win half the battle by knowing they need a website. But not knowing "why" they need a website is an invisible hurdle. The result: A loosely hanging website with no goals.
Why do Small Businesses miss setting goals for their websites?
Small Businesses are known to pay extra attention to detail. It is not an accident when so many small businesses miss to set goals for their websites. Simply put, they are unaware of the potential of a well planned site. It does not occur to them they can actually extract significant benefits from their website. Later in this article, we will discuss it further with an example.
While "Not Setting The Goals" for the website is the most costly mistake, the reason for not doing so remains: Many small businesses fail to recognize that the website is an active part of their Sales and Marketing. They do not have dedicated marketing department to steer them in this direction. They often tend to think that a website's role is to present Store hours, Locations, Services etc. While in reality, your site should be grabbing the attention of your visitors and get them to buy products / services.
From Restaurants to Rock Shows, almost all small business websites have the choice to engage with visitors, book seats online, sell coupons or get them to sign up for promotions, all of which can add value to business.
A simple case study.
One group was conducting a major event for the first time and was going full swing with promoting the event in Radio/TV/Print Media. All these leads bring interested visitors to their website. Now, the job of the website ideally should be to go one step further with convincing the visitor and offer a way to book tickets, provide special promotions, let visitors sign up for event etc. Instead, the website displays location of the event, list of programs. The website fails to convert the leads generated. They had no mechanism in place to get an interested visitor commit to the event right there. The valuable momentum built through other marketing channels, did not result in bookings. The reasons are all the same: No goals were set for the site. No agenda. Hence the marketing disconnect. A costly mistake.
If businesses start thinking in lines of using the website to boost sales, that would open up the scope for defining actionable goals for website and generate positive results. Not planning ahead and not defining the goals early on, could result in rework, costing valuable time, money and more importantly, lost opportunity.
Take enough time early on to draft your needs and set forward a plan to make the best of your website. It forms the basis for all your design decisions. Measure success and make necessary changes by analyzing your visitor's activity. There is a wide choice of embeddable applications to help with conversions at different stages. As every good marketing expert recommends, pay more attention to conversion rather than sheer volume of traffic.