Are you struggling to create an online presence that will support your business? Here are 7 simple steps to help you build a successful website.
How to Build and Grow Your Online Presence
Many business owners I talk to here at PixoLabo are wondering how to build a business website that supports their online objectives. Some business owners have a plan. But most only have a vague idea at best, and some are not even that far. Not surprising since building a business website is not part of their daily activities. If you are not sure how to build a business website here are some key steps you must follow.
Most business owners actually already know how to build a business website; they just don’t realize it! They followed the same steps when they first opened their brick-and-mortar business. To help business owners better understand how to create a useful business website, I am going to give you a step-by-step comparison.
While there are almost endless business types and variations, I am using the retail store my parents had in California as an example. It was a high-end table and glassware store; think elegant dining and entertaining. They served local and national clientele and from a location in an upscale retail area just outside of Santa Barbara. This post will explore the steps to building a useful business website for them.
How to Build a Business Website in 7 Simple Steps
Step 1 – Deciding on The Type of Site or Business
The first step in how to build a business website is to determine what kind of site you need. In the physical world, this would be similar to choosing your store location. Your basic options range from a storefront in a retail mall, a spot in the retail district on Main Street, or a stand-alone store in the high rent district.
In the online equivalent, you have free or cheap website builders, robust content management systems like WordPress, and enterprise-level solutions such as Drupal or Magento.
My parents opted for a location in a desirable retail area, but not in the central shopping district. It gave them everything they wanted from the location, at a cost they could afford. The online equivalent would be a WordPress based website.
Step 2 – Deciding On The Type of Website or Store
If you were planning an actual retail business, the next step would be to decide how to layout your store and the kind of product you plan to sell. That will determine your needs in regards to displays and furniture. It will also help you design the traffic flow and the overall look and feel of your store.
When you determine how to build a business website, you follow similar steps. How big a website do you need to start? What do you want your website to do for your business?
Maybe you only need a relatively simple static or brochure website, or perhaps you are planning to sell your products online as well. Will your customers and potential consumers require any particular functionality or options?
To determine answers to these questions is to put yourself in the shoes of your potential consumers. What will they expect, and what does a great user experience feel like for them?
My parents decided to represent a few lines of European and Asian porcelain manufactories and stemware companies. My mom also became quite the expert at finding replacement pieces. But since there were no online sales, a simple brochure website would be their best option.
Step 3 – Designing Your Store or Website
The next step is to design your store or website. And you have several options that are only limited by your budget and vision. Most likely, you will focus on the basics such as the type of store layout and interior you envision, how much time and money you have to make it happen, and what you may want to add a bit later.
For your physical location, that would include the type of store furnishings you need to display your merchandise or serve your customers adequately. Are you planning on high-end fixtures, or will you search for used fixtures and equipment? It all depends on the amount of time and money you have and the type of business you are opening.
My parents decided to focus on a few essentials to start and add merchandise and fixtures as the business grew. This approach allowed them to maximize their investment by focusing on a few key elements. And it worked. Right from the start, their store established itself as a high-end retailer and attracted high-end consumers from near and far.
The same goes for your online presence. When you think about how to build a business website, you need to make several decisions as well. What is the minimum viable version of your new site? How many pages do you need to start? Will you require advanced options like shopping carts and payment gateways right away, or can they be added later? Focus on the online experience you want to provide and go from there.
But be sure that you have a plan and strategy in place before you start to build a useful business website. Yes, of course, you can make changes later. But significant shifts in vision and direction will only add time and cost to your project.
Step 4 – Actually Building Your Store or Website
Building your new site is where it begins to get interesting. Once you have a plan and strategy in place, you need to develop your business website or online store. Depending on what you decided in step 3, you have several options.
In the physical world, you would either hire a contractor or do the work yourself. In many cases, it turns into a collaborative effort. Many business owners hire professionals for the heavy lifting, such as the actual build-out. But many contribute sweat equity by painting, installing fixtures, and stocking merchandise.
In the digital world, it works pretty much the same. Most likely, you will have a professional web designer or agency to build your actual website. But many business owners provide the required images and write their content or at least an initial draft.
Since effective content and eye-catching images are so critical for your online success, you need to be smart here. Instead of many mediocre photos, select a few that are impactful, or hire a professional photographer to take them for you. The same goes for your text content; if you don’t feel comfortable writing consider the services of a professional copywriter.
By focusing on the essentials and building out from there, you will establish a much more consistent online presence than by scattering your efforts. What is the one essential thing your customers expect you to do for them? Focus your efforts on that to start, and the rest can and will follow.
Step 5 – Opening Your Store / Launching Your Website
OK, by now, the paint should be dry, the shelves stocked, and the signage completed. You are just about ready to open your new store. But how will you promote this big event? Will you advertise in your local community paper? Announce the opening on social media? Or go crazy and promote on radio and TV? There are all kinds of options, once again only limited by your imagination and your budget.
Of course, you will have some sort of promotional effort. But what kind depends on the nature of your business. Sometimes meeting your neighbors and passing out a few cards can be enough. But most likely, you will have to work a bit harder to get your new business noticed.
The same goes for your online presence. Part of deciding how to build a business website is how to promote it! You will need to tell your online audience about it. Maybe an email blast is all it will take to drive some initial traffic to your site. But in competitive markets, you may need the extra push from a paid advertising campaign. Ask your web designer for suggestions.
My parents opened their store with a three-day open house. They advertised that in the local paper and the Sunday magazine section, and by inviting friends and neighbors. From there, their reach and reputation slowly grew.
Step 6 – Supporting Your New Business And Website
As you determine how to build a business website you need to think about how to support and maintain it. In the real world, that is pretty much common sense. Of course, you would stock new merchandise, offer seasonal menu items, and keep your store swept and clean.
If your business always appears fresh, clean, and inviting to explore, you will automatically gain new customers and attract new consumers. How many times have you walked into a store simply because the store window or sidewalk display piqued your interest?
It works the same online. Don’t merely launch and forget your new website! If your online presence starts appearing stale and dated, you will start losing visitors. Therefore you should get into the habit of regularly updating your content, keeping a blog, and generally keeping your online presence fresh and relevant.
My mom spent a considerable amount of time each day, arranging displays and adding new merchandise. She would enhance the overall effect with fresh floral arrangements, and even some personal items for just the right touch. As a result, every time a customer walked in, there was something new for them to see.
Step 7 – Growing Your Business and Online Presence
The final step to build a business website is to grow it. You would look into ways to improve your physical business by expanding your reach and reputation, wouldn’t you? Maybe you would offer in-store events such as trunk shows or invitation-only events for your best clients. Some business owners become experts in their field on the radio or social media.
Another way you can expand your reach and introduce yourself to a new audience is by entering contests and competitions, attending tradeshows and conferences, and by joining local and national business organizations. You never know who you will meet!
My mom became very successful in entering and winning contests to create the perfect dinner or table setting. Some of her creations made it into national magazines, which meant she now was attracting national clients to her little retail store. Way to go, mom!
You can do the same by using your business website. If you are working with a professional web design firm, your new site will already have on-page and on-site SEO features to help your search rankings. You can build on those through microdata markup according to Schema.org, implementing a paid search or PPC campaign, and making sure your local SEO is complete and up-to-date.
And by working with an SEO service provider, you can establish yourself as a national or even international authority in your field through directory listings, link building, and citations. Another effective strategy is content marketing, especially blogging regularly.
Final Thoughts on How to Build a Business Website
By now, you hopefully have a bit better understanding of how to build a business website. Your online presence serves the same function as your physical store location. Its primary purpose is to attract, engage, and ultimately convert potential consumers into paying customers.
Therefore you can follow similar steps. If you are not sure how to get started to build your business website or are not sure what you need on it to get started, simply think back to the steps you took to open your store or restaurant. That will help you build an active online presence for your business as well.
Consider This As a Business Investment
One key thing to keep in mind is that your business website is an essential part of your online presence. All of your other digital marketing efforts are focused on directing traffic to your business website. Therefore you must consider your website as a business investment.
If you feel uncomfortable building your own business website, you will need to engage a professional designer or agency to do that for you. Simply trusting into a standard template or free website builder will not help you determine how to build a business website and achieve your business objectives in 2020!
Do You Need Help Building Your Business Website?
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of mobile-first business website consulting and design services, including mobile-first web design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, brand strategy, and design, and business website hosting and maintenance.
Feel free to reach out to us and learn more about our mobile-first business web design services. Our team can determine what type of website and content you need and help you increase website conversions. We are here to help!
Did You Figure Out How to Build a Business Website?
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