Creating Your Business Website

So, you’ve reached the point where it’s time to generate your online business presence – a website. To set you up for success, download our 'Essential Checkpoints For A High-Performing Landing Page'  here.
  
Google “quick and easy website builder” and you’ll see there are a number of platforms that promise beginner-friendly, drag-and-drop templates that’ll have you up and running in no time. If you'd like some guidance on how to take your business online and to the next level, check out our guide here.

And it’s true - website builders like Wix, Shopify, Squarespace and Weebly are a great way for tech novices to start selling online.

But, while you obviously want to be trading ASAP, this is not the time for haste.

Even before choosing a platform, try seeing what existing customers are saying in community forums like reddit.com. If you don’t see enough to decide right away, most have a trial feature to explore how your content sits in their supplied templates.

Ecommerce platforms are generally a paid subscription SAAS, or software as a service, so cost comparison is something to factor in. Other features you’ll want to keep in mind include:

Bandwidth and load speed
Mobile optimisation
Out of the box eCommerce customisation
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) features
Customer tech support

A key advantage of these is that you don’t need to be tech-savvy about coding or have to worry about hosting, software updates, security etc.

Looking the Business

Today’s consumers have become accustomed to smart, slick design as business sites become more sophisticated. You’ve seen some older sites that still look like a product catalogue done in Word… what’s your reaction?

Your site has to look professional the moment your home page pops up. It needs to communicate quickly and clearly with an easy path to purchase. Visitors take only 3-5 seconds to decide whether they want to do business with you at all. And the average time spent to complete an online transaction is under 20 seconds. Consider that as you plan your site.

To get customers, you need to customise

It’s tempting to think that this is your chance to dazzle visitors with design. And the look and feel is undoubtedly important. Site design that follows your brand guidelines with colours, fonts and so on will engender greater trust and can enhance conversions.

But the real hero is your product. Your site design should be clean and simple so that what customers came looking for is what stands out. Showcase your product first and foremost. If all they see is text in the ‘first fold’, they may not bother scrolling down and you’ve lost them.
Multiple product listings should be easily accessed in simple, intuitive menus. And, it probably goes without saying, the experience on mobile should be smooth as. Most platforms have built-in responsive formats but make sure you see how your content translates as you build content.

Connecting a payment gateway

Naturally, a successful business is one that gets paid. To be ready to accept payments you’ll need to set up and activate a payment gateway. A payment gateway is an application that allows your store to securely request payments from your customers. Your chosen e-commerce platform will generally recommend which gateways work best with their systems – such as PayPal or Apple Pay.

Note that nearly all payment gateways charge fees, usually per-transaction fees or monthly usage charges.

Connect, Convince, Convert – the importance of SEO

Finally, for your online store to perform, it has to be searched and it has to be found.
If you’ve Googled anything lately (and who hasn’t?) you’ll know that the SERPs - Search Engine Results Pages – can be very crowded.

With paid Google Ads usually up the top, SERPs can clutter up organic search results with featured snippets, knowledge graphs, related images and more.

90% of consumer traffic goes to websites that rank on the first page of Google search results. And with users more likely to click on results at the top of the page it can get very competitive.

SEO (search engine optimisation) now becomes critical to your store’s success.
Your platform probably has SEO checkup tools that can rank the effectiveness of your URL, key phrases, meta descriptions etc.

People thinking of buying something may search for a product or service from a broad category. Your well-chosen keywords and relevant content will have the most revenue potential here.

Humans not bots

Ultimately, though, search engines are trying to approximate the user experience – how can they get the best result in the easiest way? Your site’s navigation and content should be a major consideration.

Often a search is an informational query, like background facts on a topic or how to perform a certain task. The searcher may not be looking to make a purchase, but the right content often drives them to a particular brand. That’s why it’s important to create relevant content that caters to the needs and interests of your target audience like blogs, videos and infographics.

And how they get to it is important - your link menu, for instance, should get them where they want to go in two clicks max. And back home in one – they should never feel lost.

Measure your success with analytics

It’s a truism that if it’s not measured, it’s not managed. To grow your business, you need data.
No matter what platform you’re on, use Google Analytics to get a deeper understanding of your customers. The free tools will help you better evaluate the performance of your marketing, content, products, and more.

Your platform’s built-in analytics should, at the least, be able to help you with basic metrics like:

Unique visitors,
Conversion rate
Most popular products, and
average revenue per customer

Valuable insights into what your customers are looking for, how they found you, even where and when, will help you continuously streamline and optimise your online store experience for maximum performance. Be careful and cover all the different aspects that need to go into your website, if you need help go through this easy checklist of 'Essential Checkpoints For A High-Performing Landing Page'.

The beauty of a ‘virtual storefront’ is that you can make modifications as you go – and as you learn – so, the most important thing is… just get started!

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