Guest Post by Marcus Lansky
You pay for your website each month, so you should get the most out of it by looking toward technology to help run your business. Here are a few ways to maximize your website to help your small business be more productive.
There is a huge difference between working online and dealing with customers face to face. Using an online storefront takes many routine (and tedious) tasks out of your hands. For one, you do not have to physically collect and account for monies transferred between your business and your customers. There are a number of online tools that you can link directly from your site to your bank account that keep track of invoices, taxes, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. This frees you up to focus on more important things, including marketing, which your site can help with, too (more on that in a moment!).
If you take the time to plan ahead, your site can also keep your finances on track by doing much of the legwork for you. Your site, when linked with financial tracking and workflow software, will monitor sales, costs, and even hours spent on a particular project. This makes it possible to plan a detailed budget that includes everything from insurance payments to saving for major upgrades. Having a budget in place means you can more precisely outline your business plan, which the Small Business Administration says is “an essential road map for business success.”
You’ll need to include financial projections as well as a comprehensive market analysis in your business plan.
If you need some guidance setting up an online storefront, an e-commerce specialist can help you conduct financial transactions over the internet. You can find these experts (and many others) though online freelance job platforms. Just review candidates’ skills and experience and client feedback.
Your small business website not only promotes your products and services, but proves your legitimacy and professionalism. You can think of it as an online advocate of your physical presence; your site directs people to the right place, answers questions, and offers customers information. An easily navigable site makes your business more efficient by providing preemptive customer service and offering people a glimpse of how you operate.
Your site also collects customer information, allowing you to compile a contact list that can be used for everything from email marketing to creating targeted social media advertisements. One of the best ways to collect email addresses (and get permission to use them) is by offering a valuable virtual product that can only be digitally delivered. This may be a whitepaper, free eBook, or periodic message containing special offers, discounts, or private customer events.
While your website is essential to your marketing efforts, hiring a marketing professional can put your business over the top. April Neill is an experienced digital marketer and strategist who can help your business come up with creative solutions to gain market share and improve brand awareness.
Next, look to your site’s analytic abilities. We mentioned previously that a properly written business plan includes a market analysis. That data can be taken directly from your site instead of painstakingly gathered through hands-on activities, such as customer surveys. Prior to the digital age, if a company wanted to know how many people were looking at its products during an event, such as a new commercial or seasonal sale, it had to count those people, make note of demographics, and compile that data using archaic pen-to-paper methods. All that took time away from refining other aspects of the business to further bolster the very sales its management sought to increase.
Today, however, your site can quickly offer you a screenshot of site traffic, sales, and even which promotional codes were used during checkout. Knowing your data gives you a clear picture of what is happening now, what you did in the past that made business better (or worse), and what is likely to spur interest in your business. Aggregated data will help you understand your business, uncover threats, and retain your most valuable asset: your customers.
Make the most of your investment — optimize your website and let it be the most efficient employee you’ve ever had.
Born with a severe spinal condition, Marcus Lansky took the challenge to be able to walk again. With the will and aid of numerous individuals from the medical field and a whole lot of cheerleaders, he was able to take his first steps and take on the world. He then created his site, Abilitator (abilitator.biz), as a way to reach out to those who are disabled and show them that becoming an entrepreneur is a goal they too can achieve.