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Using your website
Stats from website usage
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a major accounting and consulting company, recently completed a study of a group they identified as America's fastest growing companies. Within the survey they asked how many companies had web sites. The answer was 77% currently had web sites with an additional 14% stating they had plans to have a web site within the next 12 months.
While none of the small businesses in this country would be a part of the group of companies surveyed, the answers to the question posed, as well as the additional information listed below do apply to small businesses. As the first group is quickly approaching 100%, it would stand to reason that the technology and applications, as well as the lessons learned, would apply to small businesses.
If you observe television advertising, as well as much of the advertising that appears in newspapers and magazines, look for the small print line that begins with www. That web site address information is showing up in more places, and providing opportunistic retailers with openings to more customers at all hours of the day.
While you may quickly think this article does not apply to your business, please read on. For there are many things that you and your business could do. And many customers are searching the world wide web looking for a business just like yours. Surprisingly, selling merchandise or services on a web site constitutes the smallest goal that the interviewed businesses named. In listing their objectives for their business, of this group of progressive businesses, only 32% stated on line sales was one of their goals. Recognizing that information, most businesses would look at web sites and ask what a web site should be used for.
Well, 94% of these companies state their web site is another form of advertising for them. Television, radio, newspaper, direct mail, and now a web site. Your customer is selecting what media they respond to, and it becomes your responsibility to determine what media that is.
The second largest usage of these web sites of businesses is to provide in-depth product or service information. This usage is listed by 85% of the responding businesses. The in-depth information could include additional information about your products or services, or simply tips provided by your existing customers. This is a good example of a business using a web site to demonstrate their desire to serve their customers.
Obtaining new sales leads was the answer in 71% of the responses. Apparently there are enough people surfing the net that the businesses having the best "key words" in their web site and listing their web site with the right search engines are apt to pick up these new customers.
Seeing the many plastic signs proclaiming, "now hiring", at many of the fast food restaurants may be for you a good reason to have a web site. For 51% of this progressive business group report their web site being an excellent way of recruiting new employees.
This shows your web site should be a reflection of your business, showing your business philosophy and the type of business you own. With job openings being so plentiful, applicants can be selective.
The last listing for web sites was with half of the businesses stating they provide additional services to their customers. What else could you do for your customer that would foster their continued support of your business? In selling accessories, you could create a monthly update that would show what new products and services were added to your business in the last month. Having a calendar on your web site to tell of upcoming sales is a great way of bringing customers back to your web site time and again.
Mentioning the possibility of a calendar brings us to the concern of web site building and maintenance. Once you have created your web site, the job is not over. Just as you do not create one newspaper or radio advertisement and then repeat it over and over, your web site must also be a continually changing product. Let's take another look at our progressive business group to see what they are doing.
One in four members of this select group report they have an update to their web site at least once each week. One third of the group provides a monthly update as suggested by our calendar, and the balance of the group update their web site in a less frequent manner.
An idea that may work for your web site is to create an online guest book. People that are visiting your web site are potential customers that have searched for your type of business on the internet. An enticement to the potential customer to sign your online guest book is the creation and sending of a newsletter.
Similar to the calendar idea in content, it is an e-mail that you send to your customers telling them about your business, your products and services. You can even create a coupon that is exclusively for their usage.
Does the internet work? Let me give the example of one retailer in a very rural area. With his web site, he sells Mattel's Hot Wheel collectible cars for children. He does sell a few in his store, but as we spoke he told of having three customers that had each ordered through the web site. Each customer had ordered a case (72 pieces) within the past month. What is he doing now? He is looking for that next hot product, and you will see it first on his web site.
This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.