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website tips

Minal meets… Riya Jadhav, e-commerce website consultant

Riya Jadhav, iDigitalise

Every small business should have a website, particularly those of us who don’t have physical premises. It’s a place you own, where you get the chance to tell visitors your story, and help them understand why they should work with you or buy your products.

But what makes for a good website? Well, I thought I’d find out from an expert, so I met Riya Jadhav from iDigitalise to get the lowdown on her website tips. Riya has worked with many businesses helping them get the best web presence. Read on to find out her advice about building a website that generates leads.

Minal: Tell me a bit about your agency and what you specialise in.

RiyaWe work with their customers who need e-commerce websites or need mobile apps (normal or augmented reality). We also have a growth strategy consultancy to help owners get their business online and scale it. This could be anything from what countries should they be expanding into right up to what technologies should they be using to complete their day-to-day tasks. We specialise in working with the fashion and travel industries.

Minal:  What does a small business owner need to think about when briefing a web designer?

Riya: We have a web design questionnaire to cover this for businesses who don’t have an idea of what they want. We ask our clients what their unique value proposition is. We also need to know who is their target audience. We ask clients to tell us which of their competitors’ websites they like. Then we ask them to talk us through what they like and don’t like about these sites. In addition, we talk through their colour choices and the web structure they would like. I’d say these are the things to think through when briefing a web designer.

Minal: What are the main elements of a website that are a must?

Riya: The biggest thing is user experience. Your website needs to be easy to use. The second thing is content. It’s important to write from an SEO perspective, but what you write needs to be readable too. The third thing is a call to action. How does the customer contact you? Lastly, make sure your visitors know what your customers think about you. Use testimonials. Your website should be your shopfront, so make sure it looks professional and welcoming.

In terms of aesthetics, the navigation should be simple, clear and to the point. Make sure the website loads fast enough for browsers. A visitor will only wait 3 seconds for a website to load before leaving (on a desktop) and only 16 seconds on a mobile. One way to do this is to optimise all images to decrease load time. Your website needs to be responsive/mobile optimised so it works on all types of devices.

Ensure your website is a story that leads the visitor through what you’re offering, using a simple visitor journey. My advice would be to work on your internal pages first and then your home page, which should be a summary of your internal pages. The home page should tell customers what they will find if they click through to other pages. It should entice them to click through and encourage them to stay on your website longer.

Finally, never have a website without analytics on it. It’s important to know what’s working and what needs some extra attention.

Minal: If you project manage the development of your website, what should you think about?

Riya: Break down the entire project into chunks, and then break those down into small tasks. Put deadlines against them and ensure you meet the deadline. Building your website could take you months if you don’t treat it as a project. Overall, think about whether you can manage it yourself, or whether it’s worth paying for project management. You might think it’s expensive but it will help you to launch your website more quickly than if you manage everything on your own.

Minal: What should you do before you sign off the website as complete?

Riya: The first thing to check is that your website is functional. Go through and test all the links as if you were a visitor. The next thing you should do is make sure the brief has been addressed. Go through the requirements that were gathered at the start and check that have been completely delivered. Finally, make sure you have the admin access to edit the site, and to the hosting.

Minal: Would you give my readers your top SEO tips?

Riya: Do make SEO your focus when writing, but make what you write easy to read. Break what you write down into simpler content. Remember to set your tone of voice and use that on your website. This is especially important for single person businesses; your brand is you, so make it easy for your website visitors to recognise you in what you’ve written.

Minal: What would you say is the best content management system to build a website on?

Riya: This depends on scale and size. If you’re a small business or just starting up, I’d recommend you use WordPress. For slightly bigger businesses whose main focus is e-commerce (around £50K revenue), Magento, Jumla or Shopify are great. If you’re a bigger business with revenues over £50K, I’d recommend Demandware.

Minal: What should you do to make your website stand out?

Riya: The main thing is to make it representative of you. Next, concentrate on social media by having a presence on the networks your audience is on. Then, advertise on that network and bring your audience back to your website. Conversely, from your website allow your audience to follow you on your social media networks.

Minal: What do you think is the best way to capture leads from your website?

Riya: Give away free information. Don’t be scared to do this. It’s the hook to bring people in. If you have a regular newsletter, have a sign-up button, but don’t put it on there if you don’t have a regular newsletter. If you have an e-commerce website, think about giving away samples or coupon codes for next purchases. Always remember to upsell and cross-sell in the cart to ensure your visitors hit certain thresholds, i.e. lower delivery costs for higher value orders.

Minal: What should you be doing to keep your website looking fresh?

Riya: Keep refreshing your content and test. Do this by keeping an eye on your analytics and changing what’s not working. Add new images, straplines, call to actions and watch what works. Finally, make sure the content you update is relevant to your keywords.

Your website should be a lead generator for your business. Riya’s website tips will help you achieve that. If you liked what you read and want me to interview more experts, let me know! Leave your comments below.

small business marketing tools

The big, fat list of small business marketing tools your business needs

How many marketing tools do you know about? You’ve made a list of things to try and that list just keeps getting longer. Yet, you haven’t even made it halfway through that list. You are busy running your business and just don’t have time to figure out the tools that would work for your business.

Now, if you’ve read my blog post about cracking the code to your marketing success, you’ll be wondering why I’ve put together this list without really knowing your business. Well, there are some tools I believe will work for every business. Now, this isn’t just another list for you to work through. It’s a list of tools I’ve used in my first year of business.

Each of the tools I’ve listed in the infographic below has helped me with my marketing. You can start to use them safe in the knowledge that they work. What’s more, each one has a free plan, but the paid plans are really affordable. I know that’s going to make a lot of you happy. But remember, you will need to invest in your marketing, and that means being prepared to pay for marketing tools.

Small business marketing tools

Before you decide on the tools in your marketing toolbox, make sure you’ve created your marketing success plan. Download your free template to get started.