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Creating an Online Presence for Your Small Business

By: Joshua Unseth-- 2010-09-20 3:00 am --

In these times of constantly upgrading technology, it is not uncommon for the average shopper to check out a business online before actually visiting. An online presence, or website, is imperative in building your small business, regardless if it is local, national, or even international. The internet is your key to introducing your business to the community.

Initially, there are plenty of options for websites. There are certain free website hosts online that give you a free web presence, as long as you don’t mind having ads on your site. The other option, and one that is most utilized, is that of hiring a professional website designer or design company to build your site. This gives you the ultimate freedom for your site design, as well as professional experience to back it up.

Starting out you have to have a good idea of your target audience. For example, a toy retailer would be oriented towards children and parents. A business dealing with the stock market, on the other hand, would be oriented more towards the white collar crowd. With a good feel for your customers, you will have a good ideal of the style of website you want. You can have a clean simple site, a flashy cutting edge site, a professional looking site, or anything else you would like. The imagination of your web designer and yourself is your only limitation.

One important factor to remember is that you don’t want to overwhelm those looking at your website. If, for example, you own a store, you won’t want to have every single product listed on the website at the front page. This is simply too much to take in. It is a proven fact that teaser pages do better. A teaser page is a webpage that tells a few of the more high profile items or services you provide. If you can appeal to the potential customers’ sense of curiosity, you will likely end up with a new customer.

There are certain pages that you will want on your website. Never settle for a single “landing” page. Regardless of the size of your business, one single page website will make you seem small. Of course, you will have your front page where you will identify your business and build the customers curiosity. Next, you will want a contact page with your actual address, phone number, email, and any other pertinent contact information, as well as your business hours. Next, have a page with actual photographs (professional) of your business, inside and out, and your employees happily doing their jobs. This will give your business a nice comfortable atmosphere to the customer.

These are your main pages, but the list of optional pages is limitless. You can have a history page, a coupon page where customers can print out coupons, a calendar of events if your store holds certain community events, an about us page describing the inner workings of the business, and the list goes on and on.
Once you have your website set up and going, it is important that you spread the word about it. Be sure and put your web address on business cards, newsletters, and advertisements. Make sure your employees spread the word about your new site also.

Websites are a proven success for any business. If properly created and managed, in many cases, websites have brought in more customers and sales than actual storefronts. Consider the concept of a door. Before someone walks into a building, they have to go through the door. A website is a metaphorical door for your customers to get to your business.