Creating websites that are business-boosting, customer-creating machines
Did you know that most consumers will conduct product research online before making a purchase?1 If you don’t have a great web presence, you could be missing out on your chance to win that business.
If you want to build a highly effective small business website, listen to Danny Catullo, the owner of Catullo Prime Meats, an online retailer that sells prime and specialty cuts of meats to consumers all over the country. He has a few words of advice on how to create a great ecommerce website — much more easily and cost-effectively than you’d ever think.
Take baby steps
Danny used a turnkey ecommerce solution to get his site up and running for a lower initial cost.
“We use Shopify as the backbone to our website, which doubles as our online store,” Danny said. “Instead of having a large upfront cost, we pay a relatively small monthly fee for unlimited support and the ease of adding a blog, recipes, products, features, etc., while also being able to change information on the fly.”
Keep it fresh
This raises another important point that many small business owners typically overlook: content.
A website, unlike traditional marketing media like billboards, print ads, brochures or even TV commercials, should be considered a living, breathing medium. It works best when updated with new content. Frequently, if possible, but at least occasionally.
Of course content doesn’t just refer to writing. Content can include almost anything that adds value to your website: videos, diagrams, pictures, recipes, PDF files, music clips and more. In fact, the more creative you get with the types of content your small business website offers, the more likely you are to attract an audience.
A steady stream of fresh content will keep your audience engaged and coming back. So it’s important that your small business website is built in a way so that you, or someone on your staff, can access and change the content.
“When you launch a website, I would make sure that the small business can easily add content,” Danny advised. “A brand new beautiful website is still getting outdated every second. Do not create a static website where you don’t have authority to be able to add good quality content.”
Make it mobile
Another key consideration is mobile. With more and more of the general public using their smartphones and tablets to access the internet, it’s now become vital that your website functions well on those devices… especially if you want to be involved in e-commerce.
“Customers are increasingly using mobile devices to make online purchases, smarter in-store purchases, and decisions on where to shop,” Danny said. “Your site should be mobile optimized and monitored by you and your staff to understand how a customer perceives you online through those devices. Even more important will be your social media sites because their mobile apps make it even easier to read from mobile. Try to increase engagement at your brick and mortar by encouraging pictures, redeemable mobile coupons and even QR codes.”
When it comes to avoiding mistakes, especially if you’re putting up a website for the first time, Danny has some great advice: be hands on!
“The biggest mistakes I made with my company’s online presence were early on in the process. I used friends and customers to build the website, social media profiles, etc. because I thought I should leave the “web stuff” to the experts and focus on running my business. Although the mistake was costly, in terms of money spent and quality content lost, I did change my tune rather quickly when the user experience was becoming boring. I still don’t consider myself an expert at anything, but just like other aspects of business, I surround myself with knowledgeable people and ask a bunch of questions.”
Learn more about our FedEx Small Business Grant Recipients
If you enjoyed this article and want more online small business advice, take a look at this video profile of Danny Catullo. Want to submit your small business for grant consideration? Learn more about the 2014 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.
1 Janson, Jim. Online Product Research. Pew Internet & American Life Project, Sep 29, 2010. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Online-Product-Research.aspx. Accessed on Jan 10, 2014.