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Website Performance vs. Expectations

"My website does not get enough traffic.
So, I don't see the point in having one anymore."

When we hear the above statement the first question we ask is, "What have you done to make sure your website got visitors?"  Unfortunately, most people say, "Nothing".

The explosive growth of the Internet in the late 1990's and early 2000's prompted many business owners to jump on the bandwagon.  Many of them saw near instant traffic that had a significant impact on their business.  There was a popular TV commercial at the time showing a group of colleagues gathered around a computer.  They had built a website and were ready to launch it onto the web.  They pressed a button on the keyboard and within a couple of seconds they received on order.  Then another.  Then a few more.  Then alot more.  Then the orders kept streaming in non-stop.  The expressions on the faces of the people around the computer quickly went from excitement to dread as they contemplated how they were going to fulfill all those orders.

That TV commercial and the quick rise of formerly unknown companies, such as eBay, Amazon, Google, Twitter and more have fed the misconception that all anyone ever needs to do is build a website and the visitors will come.  That myth is still being perpetuated even today through TV and radio commercials put on by big corporate hosting companies.  The result is business owners with unrealistic expectations about what a website can do for their company.

The truth of the matter is that building a website for your business is not going to result in some miracle stream of visitors who can't wait to buy something from you.  Every website has that potential, but only if it has been actively and correctly marketed consistently over a reasonable period of time.  The days of turn it on and get orders in minutes are long gone.
Start with realistic expectations.  Then disappointment won't find you so easily.

Every business, no matter how big or small, can benefit from having their own website.  The amount of that benefit will directly depend on how actively the business markets their website.  That "active marketing" can be just a little bit or alot.  If your active marketing is zero then don't say, "My website doesn't get enough visitors" because websites don't magically get visitors.  You have to at least do a few basic things to get it out where people can see or find out about it.  Those basic things are:
  1. Make your own website the right way.  Include valuable information and do research to determine the best keyword phrases to use.  Apply basic search engine optimization techniques to primarily target your existing local market.
  2. Include your website address in all the other promotional work you do.  Put the address on your business cards, letterhead, checks, on your vehicles, in your emails.  Stop using free email services and instead use an email account on your website domain.
  3. Give people a reason to come back to your website with fresh content from time to time.  There is always something new you can add.  New product information, company news, helpful tips, etc.
The above items are minimal things that anyone can do and best of all, they are usually free to do or cost very little.  A website is not a customer magnet.  Your service or product has to be the customer magnet.  Your website is just another tool in your arsenal that enables you to reach more people with your magnet.

If all you do are the 3 items listed above then you can reasonably expect to eventually get anywhere from 50 - 100 visitors a month.  Maybe more if the search engines and other sites consider your website to be a valuable source of information.  Now consider what having your own website costs you per day.  It's less than $1 per day.  If you're questioning whether that minimal expense is worth it then you're definitely not doing all you should be doing to maximize the effective potential of your website.
List short term goals for your website.  Then make a plan for how the site can meet those goals.

If your starting goal for your website is to double or triple your business then you're already starting out on the path of unrealistic expectations.  A website is not a magic faucet that automatically doubles whatever activity your business already has going on.  If you already have an existing business then the most effective use of your website that can bring immediate results is to enhance customer service.  The following items can have an immediate impact.
  1. Include detailed information about your business including a map to your location, your street and/or mailing address, your contact phone numbers, email addresses and contact forms, and your hours of operation.
  2. Upload downloadable copies of service manuals, brochures, and any other service or product documentation.
  3. List schedules or a calendar of events.
  4. Provide a Frequently Asked Questions page (FAQ).
All of the above are common sense ways your website can easily help increase your business.  First, they make it easier for your existing customers to do business with you by getting them instant access to alot of the most common bits of information that most customers will want to know 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  For example, on a Saturday evening a customer who wants to know what time you close on Monday doesn't have to wait until Monday to find out.  They can get the info anytime they want to right on the website.  That makes a happy customer and happy customers are usually return customers.  Cha-ching!  That's an increase in business.

Your website also makes it much easier for your existing customers to refer people they know to your business.  Questions like, "I wonder if they sell that?" or "Where are they located?" are easily answered, 24/7, with a simple link to your website in an email.  Once again, Cha-ching!  That's an increase in business.

With all of the most commonly requested information readily available day or night on your website you'll find that yourself or your employees don't have to spend as much time on the phone answering questions or supplying other information.  That frees you up to do other things which increases productivity or cuts your costs.  Cha-ching again!

So you see, without alot of effort or alot of time your website can help increase your business if you put it to work for you properly.  Can it do more? Absolutely, and it will if you put in the effort and give it the time needed to allow it to do more.  Make it a tool that enhances your existing business first.  Then over time, expand your goals gradually to make it be more than that.  You'll see more consistent and positive results that way.
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