Running a local business is a lot of work, and developing a website it just one facet of developing a strong business. However, it’s incredibly important. Your website is the only part of your web presence that you own & control. It’s the foundation for any local marketing campaign.
It has to be an investment in generating sales – not a cost to be minimized. However, it also can’t be an investment in first-impressions or cutting-edge design either. It has to be an investment in what you customers actually want. Here’s features that studies have shown customers want from a local business website.
1. Quick Access to Business Information
It may sound obvious, but quick access to business information is actually something a lot of business forget to include on their website. Even if your customers are looking for you on the web, they still want access to your phone number, physical address, and hours of operation. Chances are, that’s why they’re looking for you online!
Listing a physical address and telephone number also helps customers feel safer doing business with you. The Internet can be a sketchy place, which is why first time visitors trust a business more if their location is listed. It makes you appear more credible.
Trademark Roofing, a local roofing company, is a great example of a business that gives customers key information quickly.
You’ll also want to make sure the site answers any questions about parking, or gives detailed directions from major routes, especially if your building is complicated to find.
If you serve multiple areas – you can also look to creating an effective local landing page.
Granted, you can make use of Google’s “Google My Business” platform, which display this key information on your listing when users’ search for you (and automatically generate directions using Google Maps), but it’s still critical to have on your site as well, especially for those who come to your site a different way than through organic traffic.
2. A Nicely Designed Website
Your website design matters – how the colors, layout, typography, etc all work together. Your website should be on brand, meaning it matches any other visual representations of your company (think flyers, business signs, business cards, etc.). If your business is location-specific, it should also fit the look and feel of the location. For example, a local Atlanta car repair shop that has palm trees on their site probably wouldn’t work (an extreme example, but you get the point).
Aside from being on brand and location-specific if necessary, your design should also be visually appealing. It seems obvious, yet so many sites are poorly designed. This can ruin your
According to web credibility research conducted by Stanford in 2013, 75% of people admit to making judgements about a brand’s credibility based on their website design. Moreover, a study by Missouri University of Science and Technology shows 94% of first impression elements were design-related.
And this makes intuitive sense as well. You know that customers make judgements based on the condition of your physical store, your employees’ appearance, or your fleet’s cleanliness. Your website is just another extension of your business – customer look at it as a reflection of your quality.
So while the actual content of your website is important, you best believe your site’s design holds a lot of power. In fact, it can make or break a chance to connect with a potential customers.
3. User-Friendly Structure
Now, design isn’t just about a cool layout. It’s also about how a user experiences your site, which in today’s day and age means making your site mobile-friendly.
More and more users are accessing sites from their mobile devices, which means a responsive website design is an absolute must for both large and small businesses. In fact, responsiveness is so important that Google is including it in its algorithm. Now, sites that are ranked lower than other relevant sites in the mobile search results.
But structure goes further than that. Do customers get lost in your site. Have you checked what pages customer navigate to within your site?
Does you main navigation reflect customer needs or your favorite promotions? Here’s a list of structure rules to perform better in search and list of pages you should probably have on your local business website.
4. A Good Offer
Too often, businesses get caught up in the “face” or “experience” of their website. However, your visitors aren’t coming to you for the experience of your site… they’re coming for your offer.
Note that this doesn’t have to just refer to products, but whatever you offer customers at different phases of their search, i.e. a blog that answers a question they have, a customer testimonial that speaks to a product review, or even a special shopping club for recurring customers.
A website should set and sell expectations in order to pass the pre-screening customer test all customers do, meaning a customer should be able to come to your site, find the offer they’re searching for, and determine if it’s of enough value to them (or more valuable than a competitor’s offer).
Take Anya Bridal for example. As soon as a customer lands on this page, she knows that Anya offers bridal dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and menswear. She also knows they are running a 20% off offer. While the design is clean and appealing, it doesn’t overpower the site and hide the real offers.
On a related note – a website offer provides an great way to track performance. Many website owners have no data on how many website visitors come to their physical location and convert. An online offer provides one way to track those conversions.
5. Pricing Information
Nearly all customers use the Internet to research and pre-screen companies they want to do business with. Acuity Group found that 94% of business buyers used the Internet to research businesses. 81% of consumers do the same research.
One the most important filters is price. So give it to them! It’s better for you and and them.
Think about it: if you are want to go to a local casual dining restaurant and spend $20 per person, would you risk the drive and nuisance to try a place that you weren’t sure was in your price range? No of course not – you’ll stick with the place you know.
The same goes for local shopping boutiques, services, etc. Customers want to know what to expect – and that is why you must list prices on your website.
If you don’t think so – type in your business product into Google and look at the top suggested queries – you’ll likely see “[product] cost.”
“But I don’t want to talk price without educating my customers!”
That is very smart. But it doesn’t change the fact that you have to talk about price in someway.
But talking about price doesn’t mean giving a price list. It could mean explaining how approach pricing. It could mean providing a “starting at… number.” It could mean providing industry benchmarks. It could mean providing customer education on your website so that customers are already thinking in terms of value – not cost.
There are dozens of ways to talk about price without limiting yourself. The point is that customers want something about price. If you can be the one to give it to them – you’ll be the business with more trust and more pre-qualified leads.
Here’s how one local business addresses pricing on their FAQ page.
6. Testimonials + Social Proof
Testimonials are some of the strongest ways to moving customers from considering doing business with you, to actually doing business with you. These set your business apart from the competition. More importantly, your testimonials help build confidence and trust in your company.
Customers are more empowered today. They’re taking time to research (and review) companies. Often, they count on the opinion of a friend more than they do a business. So as much as you can say you’re great, if your customers aren’t saying it, chances are your potential clients won’t think it’s true!
The Internet is awash in reviews – because customers love them. And while you should definitely maintain your primary reviews on Yelp, citySearch, and Google Places, be sure to pull in a lot of reviews to your own website to set expectations and make the customer comfortable. You want to show them that customers have had positive experiences with you, and are afraid to share those with the world!
This is also where your social channels will come in. If you’re active on social media (which you should be on select channels, depending on your business), you’ll want to link to those on your site. This way, when customers are doing research, they have an easy way to travel from your site to your social channels, where people are most likely talking about your business.
Tip: Most businesses provide links to their social channels at the bottom of their site. You don’t necessarily have to use the social icons. Instead, you can take a page out of The Merchant’s book and provide clean links.
Wrap Up & Review
A website is a must for local businesses, especially in today’s multi-device, constantly connected world. People are always searching online, especially when looking for products or services near them.
However, you don’t want to just be online — you want to provide the relevant information your customers are looking for, too! By including logistical information, implementing a well thought out, location-appropriate, and responsive design, and providing details regarding products and services (including price and testimonials), your website will be well on its way to attracting and retaining customers.