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Custom Website 101: 5 Things Website Companies Don’t Want You to Know

Custom Website 101: 5 Things Website Companies Don’t Want You to Know

When trying to launch your business’s online presence, few things are more important than a custom website. In the digital world, your website serves essentially the same function as your brick and mortar storefront. It may not necessarily be the first place people learn about your brand, but it is the one place where you have total control over your branding and messaging.

Because your website directly reflects on your business (as well as its products or services), ensuring that it looks professional and functions exactly like it should is an absolute must. In fact, 75 percent of customers admit that they judge a company’s credibility based on its web design.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of business owners are not web design or development experts. This means turning the work over to a professional agency or freelancer. The thing is, there is more to building a custom website than choosing a URL and plopping a few images and text boxes in place.

If your website company isn’t a true industry expert, there are a few areas where they could end up cutting corners and hurting your business in the long run. With that in mind, here are some important website issues that most companies don’t want you to think about.

1. Not All ‘Custom’ Websites Are Truly Customized

Like any other business, website companies often prize being efficient. Web platforms like WordPress and Wix have made it easier than ever for designers to get a website up and running, offering a variety of pre-built templates that they can choose from and then populate with a client’s content.

While this may get the job done quickly, the sad truth is that the client is not actually getting a custom website. What they’re getting is a template. True, it’s usually a template that looks good, but it’s also a template that is likely being used by thousands of others.

Sometimes, this can indirectly hurt your business prospects. If your website looks the same as your competitor’s, how will potential customers tell you apart?

Worse yet, the wrong template could get you mistaken for a spam site. As Devesh Sharma writes for SEOblog, “You might run into an issue with the template being frequently chosen for spam sites. For example, there are thousands of thin affiliate micro-sites available on the web, and there are some large tutorials on how to set them up.”

Continues Sharma, “Often, these tutorials will be laced with affiliate links themselves, for web hosting, for plugins, and for themes. If 10,000 people follow that guide and use the specific theme called out by the tutorial, that’s 10,000 low quality sites all using the same theme, likely with few if any customizations. If you then choose to use the same theme, regardless of the quality of your site, you might take a hit because you look like all these other sites that aren’t very good.”

A truly custom website will be built around the unique needs of your business. Avoiding pre-made templates will help you stand out when customers find you online.

2. Design Concepts and Code Don’t Always Work Together

Web design and web development are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are two very different things. Web design describes how the website looks — the things that make it visually appealing. Web development involves the coding that goes in on the back end. Though not visible to the user, it plays a significant role in their experience.

Some website companies only specialize in one or the other, and this can lead to unexpected deficiencies for your site. For example, a great design concept may not be able to be built as intended due to coding limitations, resulting in last-minute redesigns. Or, that stunning design could require bulky code that significantly slows down the site.

On the other hand, someone who is focused purely on web development could deliver a website that is functionally sound, but aesthetically bland. It works fine, but is not visually engaging enough to draw in your customers’ attention.

When selecting a website company, do your due diligence to make sure they give design and development equal weight so you can achieve the sweet spot of looks and functionality.

3. Great Copy Is Just as Important as Great Design

Many website designers understand how different elements of a web page should be placed so that they are visually appealing. But while an attractive layout with stunning images may do a good job of capturing someone’s attention, that isn’t what converts them into a paying customer.

Generally speaking, your website copy is going to do the heavy lifting in converting customers. Compelling copy tells customers why they would benefit from doing business with you — something that simply cannot be communicated by a nice design alone.

Even a small shift in your website copy can make a huge difference for your online revenue. In an A/B test from Unbounce, changing the headline — and no other elements — on a page increased website leads by 115 percent.

As important as website copy is, many website companies do not include copywriting as part of their services. Instead, they’ll ask that you submit text that you wrote yourself, or that you hire someone else to do the copy. If you’re no copywriting guru, this means potentially placing amateur-level text in a pro-level design — a strange contrast that will be especially jarring to your customers.

4. Conversion Should Be Your Website’s Main Goal

Sometimes, custom website designers can go a bit overboard on the “design” side of things, coming up with a look that is incredibly unique, but also doesn’t help you communicate your brand story or drive sales.

While having a unique website is definitely a good thing, you don’t want to invest in a design that’s so artsy or “out there” that it confuses customers, rather than convincing them to make a purchase. A layout that shares some similarities to what customers are used to seeing will be much easier to navigate. Compelling copy and streamlined menus, paired with attractive imagery, will go a long way in getting customers to spend more time on your site.

In reality, many of the most important conversion efforts for your custom website go on behind the scenes. Incorporating target keywords in your title tags and metadata will send the right signals to Google that will help you show up in relevant search results. Common development tasks like image compression will improve site speed, which further enhances usability and SEO rankings.

For best results, however, you must view your website as its own mini marketing funnel. Your home page and landing pages should have compelling calls to action that guide customers through the buying process. Your website company shouldn’t just promise that your website will look great — they should also bring the know-how to make it an integral part of the sales funnel.

5. A Website Requires Consistent Maintenance

Things change at a rapid pace online. If your website company is simply going to deliver a completed website and then ride off into the sunset, so to speak, they are doing you a disservice.

Google’s ranking algorithm is constantly changing. Web hosting is an ongoing investment to keep your URL active. Over time, different plugins and programs that keep your website running smoothly may need to be updated or replaced. Then there’s the matter of site security, which is especially important if you plan on processing customer payments directly on your website.

Throw in the fact that a successful website requires consistent content updates as part of maintaining a high Google search ranking, and it’s clear that your website can never be viewed as a “set it and forget it” part of your business.

A full-service website company should be there for you after the finished website has been delivered. Upgrades and maintenance may not always be time-consuming for someone who knows what they’re doing, but these ongoing actions can make all the difference for the user experience. 

Avoiding broken links, security breaches or other performance issues requires ongoing effort. You want to work with someone who can provide the continuous support that is necessary to keep everything running properly and fix serious issues quickly when they come up.

Developing a Website That Delivers Real Results

While having a website that gives customers a basic overview of who you are, what you sell and how they can get in touch with you is a start, your custom website will only truly be successful if it directly contributes to leads and sales. A high-performing website will help you get more out of your marketing budget so you can speed ahead of the competition.

Don’t settle for a website company that will give you a slightly customized website template and call it a day. When you work with KAHA, you gain access to a full-service website team that can handle everything from design and copy to on-site SEO. With over 15 years of industry experience, we are confident in our ability to design a custom website that will truly grow your business.

Interested in a Custom Website for your business?

Let us help you develop and execute a comprehensive digital advertising strategy for your new website. Our services are competitively priced and produce meaningful results for businesses just like yours. Interested in learning more? Book your FREE strategy session ($1,000 value) today!

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Digital Advertising 101: The Top 7 Things You Must Know for Your Small Business

Digital Advertising 101: The Top 7 Things You Must Know for Your Small Business

For small business owners, taking the plunge into the world of digital advertising can feel a bit intimidating. From SEO to social media, there is a lot that goes into a successful digital advertising strategy. Understanding the different facets of digital marketing and how they can work together to grow your business will make all the difference for your efforts.

A strong digital presence is more important than ever, even for traditionally brick and mortar businesses. According to data from Oberlo, 63 percent of “shopping occasions” start online, rather than in-store. In fact, close to 50 percent of consumers now do more of their shopping on a mobile device than in a physical store.

Unsurprisingly, the shift toward digital transactions has been further fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many brands to adapt to local social distancing restrictions and safety-minded customer preferences.

While most small businesses find it beneficial to partner with a digital advertising agency to grow their online presence, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to know anything yourself. Understanding a few essentials about advertising your small business online will help you know how to allocate your marketing dollars and develop a strategy that delivers meaningful revenue growth.

7 Digital Advertising Basics Every Small Business Should Know

1. Your Website is Part of Your Digital Advertising

When used properly, your physical storefront can be a powerful marketing tool in and of itself. An attractive window display, clean and organized layout and friendly staff communicate your brand values and compel customers to make a purchase. In many ways, your website serves a similar role online.

Even if you don’t make sales directly on your website, it serves as your digital “home base” for reaching your customers. Seventy-five percent of customers judge your brand’s credibility based on the quality of its website. A clean, attractive design that is easy to navigate and functions properly helps communicate a professional image for your brand.

The right layout and a compelling call to action can also have a dramatic impact on your ability to get sales and leads. Web design companies often conduct extensive A/B testing of various on-page elements to find the combination that drives the greatest revenue growth. Even a minor text adjustment or changing colors could dramatically improve website sales.

2. Local SEO Can Have the Biggest Impact for Your Growth

Most business owners have heard of search engine optimization, and understand that it helps them rank higher in Google search results. Quite often, however, small business owners think they need to compete with the entire internet, when in reality, a focus on local SEO can prove to be much more effective for their brand.

Local SEO favors local customers when you include location information (such as your phone number and physical address) on your site. Claiming a Google My Business profile will also help your business show up in searches done by local customers. Sometimes, you can even incorporate local keywords into your website content for added effectiveness.

A focus on local SEO means you don’t have to worry about competing with national brands. Instead, you can focus on customers in your area — the people who are most likely to buy from you. In fact, studies suggest that 50 percent of those who conduct a local search on a phone will visit a physical location within 24 hours. 97 percent of customers use local search to find businesses in their area.

3. Not All Social Media Platforms Are Created Equal

Aside from SEO, social media typically gets the most attention when digital advertising is discussed. This is hardly surprising — after all, Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms have completely changed the way we interact with each other and our favorite brands. Sometimes, however, small businesses stretch themselves too thin by trying to build a presence across too many social media channels.

While a presence on Facebook is a good idea for most small businesses, things tend to get a bit murky with other platforms. Evaluating your own target audience and the user base of various social media channels will help you determine which platforms should be a focus of your digital advertising campaign.

For example, while Pew Research shows that only 25 percent of Americans use LinkedIn, this number increases dramatically among those with a college degree and an annual income of $75,000 or more. Thanks to its focus on careers and employment, LinkedIn is highly effective for B2B services. On the other hand, it would not be a good fit for brands trying to sell inexpensive consumer products.

4. Your Customers Are More Persuasive Than You’ll Ever Be

You could invest thousands or even millions of dollars into a digital advertising campaign, but at the end of the day, most customers simply aren’t going to trust paid marketing. On the other hand, the vast majority of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations and online reviews — even when they are from people they don’t personally know. 

In fact, according to BrightLocal, 88 percent of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. A report from AdWeek further notes that 74 percent of customers say that word of mouth is “a key influencer” when making a buying decision.

Needless to say, collecting customer reviews on your Google and Facebook profiles (and other online platforms) should be a top priority. Highlighting positive testimonials offers powerful social proof that customers can trust.

5. Don’t Expect a Sale From the First Visit

While digital advertising can be a great way of generating additional revenue, you shouldn’t set unrealistic expectations. According to Invesp, the average conversion rate on e-commerce websites is 2.86 percent.

While this sounds like a low number, it is important to place it in context. When 92 percent of consumers visit a business’s website for the first time, they aren’t doing it to make a purchase. Instead, they are using it to learn more about your brand, compare prices or gather basic information like your store hours.

Many of these visitors won’t make a purchase the first time they visit your site. But if it is set up well, they will come back to your website after they’ve done some more research to make a purchase. Or they’ll call you on the phone to discuss your services or go to your brick and mortar location to make an in-person purchase. The online conversion rate doesn’t always tell the full story.

6. Analytics on Your Side

While tracking the conversion rate on your website and social media marketing campaigns is important, this isn’t the be-all end-all of the data you can (and should) be collecting. Other stats, like the total reach of your marketing, number of website visits, and the cost per acquisition will also tell you whether your digital advertising is truly effective.

The good news is that digital platforms make it easy to track and collect this information. Of course, interpreting what those numbers mean is another matter. It is important to place your information in context so that you can understand how different campaign actions are — or aren’t — affecting your results.

This is a big part of why A/B testing is so important in the digital world. As noted previously, even a minor change can lead to a dramatic shift in lead acquisition or your cost per customer. Asking a specific question and running tests is essential for fine-tuning your digital marketing so you can improve your ROI.

7. Digital Advertising is Constantly Evolving

The internet has dramatically changed the way small businesses approach their advertising campaigns. The thing is, the very nature of the internet means that changes are going to continue happening. The brands that are the most proactive about addressing this shifting landscape are the ones that will cruise past their competition.

For example, Google frequently updates its algorithms, meaning that your website and its content could require adjustments to enhance SEO outcomes. It seems like new social media platforms are constantly popping up (like TikTok and Twitch, just to name a few), presenting new opportunities and challenges for reaching an increasingly fractured audience.

To have success in digital advertising, you must remain on top of current trends and changes so you can reach your customers at the right time and place.

Preparing for a Digital Future

Even if your small business is heavily reliant on foot traffic and brick and mortar sales, building an online presence should still be at the top of your to-do list. By taking advantage of the many tools and channels available through digital advertising, you will vastly improve the reach of your messaging, helping more people discover your business than was possible in the past.

At KAHA, our team is ready to partner with you on this important journey. Drawing from over 15 years of digital advertising experience, our specialized team will help you develop a revenue-generating website, improve your SEO rankings and even get more customer reviews to strengthen your online presence. Our tried and tested system and tools are ready to help your business scale like never before!

Interested in Working with KAHA to Improve Your Digital Advertising?

Let us help you develop and execute a comprehensive digital advertising strategy. Our services are competitively priced and produce meaningful results for businesses. Interested in learning more? Book your FREE strategy session ($1,000 value) today!