Visiting your homepage is likely to be the first experience that one has with your business, so it shouldn't be too difficult to see why it is one of the most important pages of your website. Your homepage will usually receive the vast majority of your traffic, and since first impressions are always very important, it is essential that you get it just right. The goal of your homepage and any landing pages is to turn as many of your first-time visitors into paying customers. Here are several key elements that your homepage should have in order to increase its conversion rate.
Your Company Logo - Your company logo is an important symbol by which your visitors will be most likely to remember you. A well-designed logo can go a long way in establishing your brand and making it widely recognizable. People will see this logo not only on your website but also on social media pages and other websites. Place the logo near the top of your homepage so that it is one of the first things that your visitors will see.
Engaging Headlines - Your visitors are not likely to stick around for long if they can't see immediately what the website is about. The headline on your homepage will be the very first piece of text that they actually read, and if the headline doesn't inspire them to want to read more, they will be gone in a matter of seconds. Keep your headlines short and to the point so that they clearly define what the page is about. Avoid fluff by keeping things simple.
An Introduction - Following your headline, you will need to provide a bit of information about your main product or service, or if you are selling a wide range of different products and services, your business. Keep this description short and simple as well. Following the introduction, list some reasons why people should choose your company and its products.
Testimonials - Customer testimonials are important and effective when it comes to building up trust among your potential customers. Include some of your best short testimonials - no more than one or two short sentences for each one. You should also include a small thumbnail image of the customer as well as a name. This will make your testimonials look far more believable. If using someone's real name and image, however, be sure to ask for their permission first.
Navigation - Make sure that your homepage's navigational features are clear and easy to find. Also, be sure not to neglect mobile users. Your website should be easy to view and navigate on smartphones and tablet computers as well using responsive web design. In case you were unaware, mobile Internet usage is already overtaking desktops and laptops. The best location for your navigation links and menus is generally at the top of the page, beside your company logo. Make them obvious, but not distracting. Making your navigation bar stay at the top of the page when people scroll down is also a good idea.
Images or Videos - Any decent website uses visual material as well as text. A supporting image is an absolute must on any homepage. A high-quality image helps to bring what you are advertising to life. Avoid using stock photos, however, since they often make a site look completely fake. They tend to be beloved of scam sites and rogue online shops. Instead of having a supporting image, you may also want to consider having a short video introduction.
With the recent popularity of social media, marketers are questioning the role of email in their marketing strategy. The reality is that despite the growth of social media advertising, email remains one of the highest returns on investment and most measurable marketing tools available for small businesses. You can set yourself up for success with email marketing by measuring the effectiveness of each campaign and understanding what you can do to increase your campaign performance.
Key Email Metrics - Unlike social media strategies your email marketing is easily measurable. Monitoring your unique open rate, bounce rate, click through rate, unsubscribe rate, and conversion rate can help to determine your email marketing success.
Mobile Changes Everything - Mobile devices are now the dominant device that people use to get email with more than 50 percent of mobile phone users reading email on their phones. This puts even more importance on the subject, headlines, value statements, and calls to action of any email effort. Let's face it, given the sheer volume of email businesses and professionals receive every day, your email better make an impression quickly. If it doesn't, it's probably going to have open rates, open to click rates, and conversion rates well below your expectations.
Relevant Content Meets Customer Needs - Clearly, you make an impression with content that is relevant to the customer's needs. When you have a solid understanding of what your prospective customer wants at each stage of their buying cycle you can customize your subject, headline and call to action to deliver your message quickly and effectively to meet the customer's needs and interests throughout their buying cycle. The first impression your email makes is through the subject line and who the email is from. When your subject is of interest to your audience you will have earned a few more seconds to further engage them with a value statement, offer, and call to action. Once your recipient opens the email they will likely read the headline and the first few lines only. This is your chance to provide enough value and a compelling offer to motivate the reader to take an action. Keeping your email simple and easy to read only enhances the likelihood that readers will respond the way you want.
There's a reason that your inbox is often full of new email messages every day, and it's quite simple. Never forget that while email is still very effective as a core marketing tool the best marketing results come from combining channels throughout your customer's buying cycle to influence their purchasing decisions.
National Small Business Week kicked off Monday May 12th and runs through Friday, May 16th. Started by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the annual celebration recognizes the contributions of small businesses to America’s economy. The event is hosted by the Small Business Administration and includes workshops and expert keynotes on topics affecting small businesses., whether strategies for raising capital, better engaging customers or using social media for marketing. Below are some ways to get involved with this year’s weeklong celebration no matter where you are.
Join an online event. Several free webinars on small business topics will be held over the course of the week. Some examples include “creating a killer customer loyalty program” and “offering voluntary benefits to employees.” You must register for these events online so check out www.sba.gov/nsbw for a listing of all events and webcasts/webinars.
Attend a regional SBA in-person event. This year the SBA is hosting events in San Francisco, Boston, Kansas City and Washington D.C. Several guest speakers from many different industries and backgrounds will deliver speeches, while attending an in-person event will provide great networking opportunities with other small business owners.
Check out non-SBA events. Beyond the official SBA-hosted events, organizations and companies around the US are putting on their own live and online events for Small Business Week. Check out www.smallbiztrends.com for a listing of Small Business Week events in your specific area as well as other non-SBA hosted webinars and webcasts.
If you talk to any small-business owner, the business challenge he or she faces on a regular basis is cash flow. Managing cash flow is a constant struggle for many business owners, and the success or failure of their business frequently rides on it. Many small business owners don’t want to deal with the cash flow topic because they think it’s all about numbers, but it’s actually more about the health of your business. Simply stated, you need to make sure you have more cash coming in to your business than you do going out. You should know what your cash flow looks like and have the ability to change it when needed which means you need to understand what action to take to improve the situation. Below are a few tips to consider to help manage your cash flow.
Increase the Amount of Cash Coming In
Raise your prices - This is one of the toughest things for small-business owners to do. Many fear that if they raise prices all the customers will stop buying from them. Luckily, that normally doesn't happen. Sure, you may lose a few customers but they would have walked away at some point anyway. You want customers who value what you sell and appreciate their relationship with your company.
Change payment terms - If your business model is such that you do the work and then invoice to get paid, it’s time to shake that up. Set and enforce rules for getting paid within a shorter time frame. Most service providers allow a 30-day payment term, which often means you aren't getting paid until 45 or 60 days after your work is complete. Shorten your terms to five to 10 days, make sure you invoice right away, and put a due date on the invoice. Use an online invoicing service so you don’t have a time lag. You could also consider collecting partial payment at the start of the work, and the balance when it's complete. This is your business and you can set the rules any way you like.
Capitalize on your success - Find your bestselling items, then examine what part of your target market is buying those items and concentrate your marketing efforts on selling more to that market. Many small-business owners are in the habit of coming up with new ideas or creating new things to sell. That’s not bad, but it often results in the products or services that are a success to get put on the back burner, when they could be bringing much needed cash into your business.
Decrease the Amount of Cash Going Out
Leverage payment practices - You want to stretch out paying your bills for as long as possible. Set up a schedule of payments for your current bills and don’t pay them until they are due. No need to put that cash in another business until it’s required. And if the company accepts credit cards, use them to pay your bill. That will give you another 20 to 30 days before the cash has to leave your business. Just make sure you manage it so you don’t incur fees and end up with long-standing debt.
Renegotiate fees with vendors - If you have recurring bills—think phone, Internet, office space and fees with other vendors—review each agreement and determine whether there’s a way to lower your regular payment. Things are always changing, and, as technology improves, many services become less expensive. But nothing will change unless you ask.
Adjust inventory levels - If your business must keep inventory on hand, take a good look at your records to see if there are items that could be reduced or ordered less frequently. Inventory on hand just costs your business money. You might also want to consider if drop shipping would work for your business so you don’t have to manage inventory at all.
If you’re in a cash flow crunch, try some or all of these tips to help dig you out. This is by no means a comprehensive list of things you can do, but it will get you started.