Setting Goals for small business websites.
When I sit down with a new client, the first thing that I ask is “What do you want to accomplish with this website?” Normally, I get a blank stare, followed by “Well, we just need a website, everybody needs a website, right?” or “My competitors have one, so I should too.”
What most small business owners don’t realize is that your website is a resource, a tangible asset much like a piece of capital equipment. As such, it should provide you with a real, measurable Return On Investment. With that perspective, it becomes easier to understand why you need to set achievable goals for your website. By setting goals, you give yourself a target that you can measure your success against. The bottom line for any website should be the question “How has my website helped grow my business today?” Most websites have a combination of goals, but it’s important to prioritize them so that you can focus on the most important aspects when designing and maintaining your site.
The three main goals of most small business websites are:
Selling products or services
The reason that these are the main goals is that these are the only actions which generate a real ROI. When you sell a product or get a lead or referral, you are adding to your revenue stream, and you can quantify the impact that your website had on your business. Having said that, there are some secondary goals that you may have for your website. Some of those include:
Branding – building your brand in the minds of consumers.
Communications – Communicating with your existing customers about new products & services
However important these goals may be, they do not contribute directly to your ROI. That’s why they are secondary. But, by prioritizing them, there is still the opportunity to integrate them into your site as effectively as possible.
The simplest way to identify & prioritize your goals is to imagine an imaginary person who is viewing your site. Now, ask yourself, “What action do I want this person to take?” The answer might be,” I want them to purchase my product” or “I want them to contact me for a quote”. That’s your main goal right there. Now ask yourself, what secondary information would I like this person to take away from my site. The answer(s) to that question are your secondary goals.
So, how does this help the small business owner? Once you have identified the main & secondary goals for your website, you can begin to develop strategies for your your websites content, design, layout, functionality, etc… For each component of your site, you should ask yourself (or your web designer) “How does this page, widget, etc… help me achieve my goals?” When designing a website from scratch, you should ask yourself, “What types of pages, widgets, content, etc… should I use to achieve my goals?” Once you have a solid, goal based strategy, then you can be sure that your website is working for you, and generating an ROI. Once that happens, then the next step is to measure that ROI, and the effectiveness of your site, but that’s for next time.
Here’s to new customers!