This article was supposed to be about how floor-covering dealers could improve their websites. But while doing research on the Internet, I was appalled to see how many dealers throughout the country didn't even have websites - about 40%!
Half of those who did have websites looked terrible. Dare I say they looked Mickey Mouse?
That left 30% who had attractive websites. Yet virtually all of those still had major problems - like difficulty in navigation, no lead-generating copy, too many keywords in their meta tags, etc.
For now, I would like to focus on the importance of getting your business on the Internet.
I was speaking recently with one of my floor-covering clients and he said to me, "Kathy, before I buy anything, I check it out on the Internet. I did that last weekend when I bought some lighting. Even my gardener looks things up on the Internet."
It's true. We all check things out on the Internet and the bigger the price, the more likely we are to "google it" first before walking in the store. And because the younger generation refuses to sign up for delivery of the daily paper, newspapers are becoming less relevant for connecting with your customer.
If you don't have a Web presence, you are not going to be in business for long. And if you don't have a professional website, you are going to lose customers to the store that does.
Does this mean you have to have a slick website full of flash images and videos? Not necessarily.
Too much flash or video can be distracting to your visitor. It's easy to think of the computer screen like a television where fantastic visual images work well. But think of your body position when you watch television. You are sitting in an easy chair or reclining on the couch. You are in a "passive" mode. The images and sounds from your television just wash over you and you let it in.
Now think of how you are in front of the computer. You are on a mission to find out information. You type words into a search engine. The search engine gives you a results page full of words. You read those words and click on some of them. Then you arrive on a Web page.
Note that you have not been passive at all. In fact, you have been very active in your quest.
Once you arrive on a page, you look to see if your questions will be answered. You are looking for words; you aren't looking for pictures or videos. Pictures or videos may enhance the words, but they are not the main thing.
Unlike other advertising, when customers land on one of your website pages, it's as if he's walked into your store! You need to greet him or her and see what you can do to help. You don't jump into a sell mode right off the bat. (There are some exceptions such as websites dedicated to one product.)
To help your customers, you need to assure them that...
1. They have landed on the just the right website
2. Their questions will be answered quickly and easily
3. They will be directed promptly to relevant interior pages
If your visitors get lost trying to figure out how to find what they need, they will click off your site and go visit your competitor.
I experienced this recently while booking a flight to the Midwest. I visited several national name-brand sites. Many of the sites I got lost in and couldn't navigate my way back to relevant pages. But one site, in particular, was extremely easy to navigate and find all the information I needed.
All the prices between the various sites were comparable, so the service I used was the one that was easiest, and that's the one I will use again in the future. I even found myself telling other people about it. That's what you want your customers to do.
Professional-grade websites are no longer an optional item for marketing. Customers want it, they expect it, and they demand it. Don't get caught without one.