Home Month and Year April 2024 The Website Game Changer

The Website Game Changer

Digital first impressions

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Sometimesunwittingly or unknowingly, relying on stubborn gut-feel intuition versus facts and professional advice, penny-pinchingly blaming tight budgets or resigned to making do with just okay versus sharp and goodCalgary small businesses make big mistakes. 

Technology continues to dramatically and excitingly transform business and make business not only fabulously efficient but also more fiercely competitive than ever, at every level.  

Especially when it comes to the power of websites, especially for Calgary small businesses. 

It is a proven, documented, undisputed and unavoidable fact. A sharp, effective and targeted website is good for business. A weak, lame, DIY or lousy website is a missed opportunity and bad for business. An effective website is the welcome mat of a small business.  

It is critical, contemporary, make it or break it, state-of-the-art branding, marketing information about a business’ operations, products and services. An effective website not only promotes products and services, but, particularly for competitive small businesses, a website distinguishes the business, builds credibility and provides a provenly potent competitive edge.  

A blunt small business caution warns about basic business missed opportunities. “If customers can’t find your business, they will find someone else.”  

No judgements or preaching. It is unanimous. An effective website is a critical must-have to drive business in today’s digital world. Period. Full stop.  

Astonishingly, a recent Google Analytics business survey found that more than 36 per cent of small businesses do not have a website. A dangerously high 30+ per cent begrudgingly accepted the necessity of having one, and settled for a DIY version which a staff member informally maintains. 

IT experts and savvy website developers agree. An effective small business website is the company’s digital brochure. It is informational. It provides insights into who the business is, what it does, why it is different and what products or services it provides.  

Itemizing the many differences between a weak or an effective business website, there is emphasis that, at its effective best, a Calgary small business website can build community, connection and loyalty when and if the content is kept fresh and engaging. 

The difference between a good and a bad small business website is critical.  

Surveys show that it takes about 50 milliseconds for a user to make a judgment about a website, and visual design affects the first impression. And cliché or notfirst impressions matter. Ecommerce surveys are proof that in 94 per cent of cases, users’ first impressions are connected with website design. After a single bad experience, a user is 88 per cent less likely to return to that website. Access speed matters, and North American retailers lose up to $2 billion dollars a year due to slow-loading websites.  

IT experts point out that, particularly a small business website, is the gateway, door and welcome mat of a business. It should educate the consumer as well as elicit the desired and targeted emotion. It is the very first impression that will be made and it can determine with certainty whether or not the consumer will continue the online engagement. 

  

According to Corey Hayes, the dynamic and respected CEO of Calgary’s Get X Media, the most important specific aspects and functions of an effective Calgary small business website should include making navigating the website effortless.  

“A seamless journey converts visitors into customers. And mobile is a must. More than half of the business’ audience is on mobile. A non-optimized site is simply a lost opportunity. And lightning speed wins, every time.” He adds that slow websites frustrate and drive away visitors, kill conversions and drain ad budgets. 

Hayes also explains the importance of CTAs. “A Call to Action (CTA) on a website is an instruction to the visitor in order to encourage them to take some kind of action. A CTA might be simple instructional text, such as “call us now,” “find out more” or “subscribe to our newsletter. 

“It is important, because on a small business website, direct action is key. It guides users to click, call or buy. And engaging content is so important. Quality content also boosts Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and attracts more visitors. Its not just text. Its the business’ brand and voice.” 

Search engines play an important role in the online success of businesses, and SEO is an important basic of small business websites.  

Technology allows digital search engines to find the business. It’s up to the business’ website to effectively create and target what they find. Because optimizing a business’ website greatly increases showing up in search results, even for internet browsers who are not even searching for a specific business.  

IT consultants agree on some common problems and missed opportunities with small business websites. 

  • Many are not Mobile-FirstA mobile-first website is essential for any business! Stats show that some 60 per cent of website visits originate from a mobile device. For some specific industries, this increases to over 90 per cent. But some 60 per cent of all small-business owners do not have a mobile-friendly website and have no way of knowing if their website is responsive and mobile capable. Without the technology to engage mobile visitors, many small businesses are missing out on critical consumers.  
  • Poor design. Because the expense of a professionally designed website can get pricey, many businesses take shortcuts like using a free template or popular hosted solutions like Wix or Squarespace. 
  • No Call to Action (CTA). Surveys show that 93 per cent inchingly of small business websites don’t even display a contact email address, and 49 per cent don’t list a contact phone number on their home page. 
  • Poor SEO. Even though small business marketing is critical, and getting more and more competitive, online discoverability is essential, helping potential customers find the business. Somehow, 26 per cent of small businesses cannot be found in online searches! Because they do not understand SEO basics, many small-business owners are hesitant to implement a search engine optimization strategy.  
  • Confusing Navigation. If the business’ website was a city, and visitors were tourists, navigation would be the direction signs. Confusing direction signs are a frustrating digital visitor turn-off.  

Calgary’s Corey Hayes notes various reasons why Calgary small businesses don’t maximize the power of digital technology and chug along with a weak and ineffective website, content in the fact that they, at least, have a website.  

“Often, it’s about cost concerns. The price tag of professional development is usually exaggerated and can intimidate the budgets of some small businesses,” he says. “But the ROI from a well-built, strategic website often outweighs initial costs. And staffing factors are also an issue. Additional manpower to liaise with developers and manage the site can seem daunting, while it is proven to be an investment in the business’ brand and online success.” 

Some business consultants point out that a small business’ attitude about being “small,” and not needing fancy, high tech can be an issue about having an effective website.  

Or maybe it’s clutching the traditional “it-ain’t-broke/why fix it” attitude, believing in the cliches about traditional word-of-mouth being good enough.  

The facts, figures and success stories tell the true story. Effective websites are re-defining small business! 

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