Some of my best business friends have amazing offerings. They are talented, great with their customers, and have growing communities surrounding their brand. One or two of them, however, have some some major issues with their small business websites; I know that if they would take some advice and fix a few things, they could see it dramatically improve their business.
I'm not perfect, and neither are my sites. When running a business, however, some online errors just aren't forgivable. Make sure you are not making these same mistakes with your business website; the consequences could be dire!
1. Not giving customers a real way to reach you. I'm all for contact forms, provided you check them daily. I'll even forgive an email address that pops up when you click on "contact us." To make a customer really feel good about buying from you, however, I highly recommend providing a mailing address and a phone number, as well. Worried about stalkers? Get a P.O. Box. Otherwise, it's hard for people to trust some nameless, faceless entity on the internet.
2. Not saying when you're open. Some of my favorite local business have sites with 8-10 pages. They list their sources of inspiration, their kids' names, their best-selling products, and even have calendars for events. Do you know what they don't have on their websites? When their stores are open. This, to me, is hard to believe. They take so much time and care in letting people know what they are about and how to find them; they avoid telling them when they can shop!
3. Not asking for more business. When I worked in sales on commission, I always knew that the money would be earned in the form of add-ons. (You know, the "would you like fries with that?" routine.) It doesn't matter if you sell trinkets or web design services; you can always ask for additional business at any point in the selling cycle. If you have a checkout page, be sure that it asks buyers to consider an additional option to make their experience even better. If you don't, make sure that any services have bundled options for even more offerings at a discounted price. If you don't ask, you'll never know if you could have had that extra sale.
These are just the three mistakes made in business websites that bug me the most. What pet peeves do you see when shopping online?
Photo by Alex E. Proimos via Flickr.