Businesses these days need an online presence if they wish to make an impact on their customers. A website is easy to set up but hard to get right. While a great-looking website is easy to create, you need to make sure it is ready to convert visitors into paying customers.
In addition to conversion rates, you have to comply with regulations and deal with the running expenses connected to your online presence. In no particular order, here are 5 things you need to take care of when moving your business online.
1. Domain and hosting costs
Your domain is your address on the web, and without it, it’s impossible to find your business. Great domains that are catchy, short, and relevant aren’t cheap, with some of them costing as much as $100 or more. While a domain name is important, make sure you choose something that is connected to your business instead of picking a name that sounds great.
Choose between a .com or a .net domain extension. Extensions such as .org apply to nonprofits or charities, while fancier ones like .io typically suit AI or blockchain companies. Once you’ve bought a domain, you’ll need to host your website somewhere.
A web hosting service takes care of the plumbing that makes your website work. Your host makes sure all data connected to your website is securely stored and will automatically expand your storage should you exceed data limits. Of course, you’ll have to pay additional costs for this expanded storage, but your website won’t run the risk of going offline.
Hosting services also help you set up professional email inboxes or connect your existing inboxes to your website’s messaging system. If you opt for all-in-one website design services, then you’ll be able to design, host, and set up an inbox from the same platform without having to integrate multiple services.
2. Initial design
Your website’s design is critical to converting visitors to customers. Good design takes time and a lot of testing. The best way to begin is to determine the ideal path you want your visitors to take.
You can create your website using WordPress templates or services such as Wix. While the free versions of these services will give you a nice-looking website, you should invest in premium services to provide your visitors with a highly customized experience.
For example, some premium WordPress themes allow you to create a members-only area to publish premium content or offer special bonuses to your loyal customers. If you’re running an online store, using the WooCommerce template is the best option for WordPress. A premium theme from WooCommerce will cost you upwards of $12 (one-time payment)
Shopify is an alternative for eCommerce sellers. You can create your storefront and upload your products seamlessly while integrating your website with payment and marketing platforms. WordPress users will need to integrate all of these functions manually, which might intimidate some people. Shopify plans start from $29 per month.
Consider hiring a website designer to make it stand out from your competitors. A designer will help you achieve consistent branding across all of your pages and media channels. Typically, designers charge $75 per hour, with highly sought after designers charging four or five figures per hour for their services.
3. SSL certification
Secure Sockets Layer or SSL encryption is a web standard these days. An SSL helps you establish a secure connection between your host and the visitor’s web browser. This security layer ensures that all data exchanged between these sources is secure and private.
Your host will help you install an SSL certificate. If you’re using WordPress with Bluehost, you can either install it yourself or request Bluehost to do it for you. If you’re using an all-in-one service, your website will automatically have this installed.
Check your website’s URL to make sure an SSL certificate is installed. Secure website URL’s begin with “https://” instead of just “http”. In Google Chrome, a lock appears on the left side of the address bar to indicate a secure connection.
These days, Chrome doesn’t allow its users to connect to websites that don’t possess an SSL certificate. So make sure you install one and verify it, or else you might find yourself out in the cold.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 61 million people in the United States live with a disability. That’s approximately 1 in 4 adults you’re neglecting, and missing out on potential profits from.
Moreover, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses must provide an accessible website that accommodates users with disabilities. ADA lawsuits against businesses whose websites are not accessible are on the rise. The average cost of a settlement for this type of lawsuit is currently around $45,000. That’s definitely an expense you will want to avoid.
So what should businesses do if their sites aren’t yet accessible? Companies have the option to simply hire designers to make their websites accessible. However, this is an expensive and time-consuming activity, and this quickly becomes an ongoing expense as webs content is updated.
Moreover, there aren’t set-in-stone instructions for making your site accessible, but luckily there exists the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which were published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the Internet.
Tools like accessiBe automate the process. Within 48 hours of download, your site will be 100% accessible, and compliant with both ADA regulations and WCAG guidelines. Their AI engine specifically scans websites every 24 hours for newly uploaded content and then makes any necessary changes. As a result, businesses save both time and money.
Digital marketing is very different from the old-fashioned modes of marketing where advertisers would publish an ad and hope for traffic. Using metrics and data, and of course machine learning, it’s possible for a business to scientifically plot its way to the top of its customers’ minds.
Social media is an important part of our lives these days, and businesses must be active on these platforms. By using influencer and affiliate marketing strategies, businesses can create relationships with their prospects. This helps increase website conversions. Most small businesses spend around 10% – 20% of their revenue on marketing.
While paid advertising is important, generating organic traffic pays the highest long-term dividends. Focus on the platforms that give you the highest ROI before expanding to others. Throughout, make sure you’re building a relationship with your customers and are maintaining a consistent voice across all channels.
Challenging, but rewarding
Moving your business online is a challenging task, but it’s extremely rewarding. Make sure you consider these five factors prior to moving online. Execute them well, and you’ll create a great source of income for your businesses while building your reputation with your customers.