The goal of the vast majority of websites is to increase sales in some way. Be it through generating leads, providing follow-up information, or directly through e-commerce, a high-quality website can provide a major impact on the bottom line.
A website can be a great tool for generating leads for your business. Prospective clients will come to your website through a variety of ways (see Generate Awareness). Your website should be a portal for those clients to contact you and express interest in your products and services. Your website can convert web traffic to leads in a variety of ways:
- Simple contact form - The simplest and most common way is to provide a contact form for clients to express interest. In addition to posting a phone number or email, a form will capture those interested but apprehensive about making a more direct connection through phone or email. It also allows you to better qualify the lead with specific questions that may not be covered in an email or phone call.
- Information Request or Calculator - Another way to get prospects to contact you is by giving them a way to obtain additional information by submitting their contact info. This can be a benefits calculator (i.e. request a quote) or a more direct request (request a brochure). By giving the web visitor an incentive, they'll be more likely to give their name and email address for later follow up.
- Refer a Friend - For informational websites, this can be a way to use viral marketing to increase traffic. If the information on your website is powerful and compelling, your visitors will suggest their friends and family to visit the site. Providing an automated way to do this not only captures the visitors information, but also the person they're referring. While you shouldn't overuse the contact info given, a simple follow up email can be a valuable contact point to start a sales conversation.
Follow Up Information
In addition to generating new leads, your website can also assist in your existing sales process. Prospective clients met at networking events or referrals from existing clients can be referred to your website for more information. This can free up your in-person sales pitch to include only the most important and compelling points.
In most cases, small business websites are used primarily as a follow-up tool. Clients will see your advertisements in other ways (direct mail, print ads, radio/tv) or will have met you in person or will have gotten your name from a referral and want to know more before they contact you. Your website is almost always the last thing a prospect will see before you hear from them... or not hear from them!
The most direct way to increase sales is to allow customers to purchase directly through your website. Besides the more obvious product sales websites, your website can also accept payments in a variety of ways.
- Online Services - Besides selling products online, many businesses can deliver services right through the website. Online classifieds, online advertisements, content subscriptions, and online applications all provide ways to generate revenues automatically through the website.
- Accept individual payments - Many corporations accept payments through their website for services in addition to products. Even for small businesses, accepting payments in this way can increase sales by reducing barriers. If a prospective client has to write a check and mail it in, they may hesitate more before the sale than if all they have to do is enter their credit card number.
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