Q: I have invested a lot of time and money developing our company website. However, to the best of my knowledge, I can’t attribute one sale to this marketing tool. How do I turn our website into one that generates sales?

 A:  Most small businesses have a website of some kind and many are relying more and more on the Internet to help their marketing and sales efforts. Having a website that strokes ones ego, yet doesn’t generate sales is an exercise in wasted time and money.

There are dozens of ways a website can go wrong. Even if you have a crackerjack designer, they may know little or nothing about building a site that actually generates sales leads. An eye pleasing site by itself won’t necessarily get the job done.

 Here are some common sense ideas that may help turn your website into a selling site:

  •  Be sure to educate your designer to the particulars of your product or service.
  •  Determine what differentiates your product or service from the competition.
  • Ask yourself if “I were my customer, what would motivate me to buy?”
  • How easy is it to navigate your site? Can a prospect intent on buying find what they want fast?
  • Make good use of photos and graphics that illustrate the product or service.
  • Resist the impulse to drown the customer with too much detail. Give visitors the option of clicking to more information if they wish, but don’t force it on them. Coax the customer by stages with a logical thought progression.
  • Filling out forms is often necessary, but keep them simple and break them into bite-sized parts. Every inch of your site should address your customers’ goals and needs, not just the needs of your business.
  • If selling a product, make the checkout process on your website fast and simple. Don’t bombard buyers with too many options or pop-up ads. If the customer must register, don’t force the buyer to answer endless questions designed to fill your need for marketing demographics.
  • Finally, the best site is only as good as the customers’ ability to locate it on the Internet. Your goal is to have your site on page one of every search engine. This is called search engine optimization.  Caution, not all website designers offer SEO, so be sure to pick one who can design, maintain and optimize your website.  

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 Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Naples Chapter of SCORE. To learn more about management issues facing your small business, contact SCORE Naples. Counseling is provided FREE of charge to all U.S. citizens and legal aliens.  To register call 239-430-0081 or visit our web site  http://naples.score.org/mentors . A counselor will contact you within 48 hours.  Please include your name, email address and a contact phone number.