For business owners and those aspiring to turn their hobby or passion into a profession, our time is our most precious resource.
Your website is a true asset to your business-building, as you can use it to manage many functions that previously had to be managed manually. Here are 8 steps to help you build your base of support and increase the sense of community and camaraderie around your brand, mission, products, or service offerings.
1) Convert to a Content Management System if you haven’t already.
A CMS is a great way for you to manage your pages, products, blog posts, and other informational items on your site. The most popular is WordPress for more simple sites, but I am a big fan and proponent of Drupal for its ability to handle complexity and greater functionality.
2) Get an E-newsletter ASAP.
If you are still e-mailing people directly, now is the time to sign up for an e-newsletter service. MailChimp, Constant Contact, iContact, and Vertical Response are all options, but I am the biggest fan of Simplenews, which comes as an add-on module to your Drupal website. Offer a quick signup box on your sidebar or footer and allow people to unsubscribe directly from the e-mail to comply with anti-spam legislation. With an e-newsletter in place, you can periodically message your supporters and remind them of any deals, specials, or upcoming events.
3) Update your Contact form with categories.
If you have a generic e-mail on your website, consider using a Contact Form (again, very easy in Drupal) to sort and route your communications. Each “category” could have a different person that the e-mail is sent to, e.g. General Questions, Problems with your Account, Press Inquiries, etc.
4) Allow Coupons during checkout if you have an e-store.
Use codes or some other type of coupon to track your incoming referrals. By marketing each coupon as a unique or personalized option, you can find who is generating business on your behalf.
5) Consider affiliate marketing.
ShareaSale.com and Commission Junction are both well-known and respected affiliate marketing tools. For your most loyal readers, customers, or clients, offer them an opportunity to sell your product for a small commission.
6) Build your menu of products and services.
For many people, it is easier to understand a “menu” of limited options. Convert your list of services into a “product offerings list” to make it easier for the customer to “hook” onto what they want to purchase. The more variables you offer, the more complicated it can become, so make it very simple for your end user. Think “vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate” to begin, at least until you build up more of a customer base.
If you have a long list of products, consider categorizing them (one product can belong to multiple categories) for ease of use and browsing.
7) Call to action on every page.
You must have a way for the customer to “Take the next step” on every page of your website. Offer a signup form, an RSVP, or a digital download, or an e-commerce checkout to prompt your visitor to take advantage of your services.
8) Frequent scheduled publishing.
“Set it and forget it” does not work for websites. Constantly and consistently make updates to your site by adding new blog posts, updating your product or photo gallery, adding testimonials, or linking to your social networking profiles like Facebook and Twitter. It does your customer no good to think that you are “out of business” because your website has not been updated.