Posts Tagged "business web hosting"

Why Your Small Business Needs Web Space

When many small business owners take their first steps into realizing their dreams, web space is the last thing on their minds. This is understandable, but it’s also a huge mistake. Here, we’ll address why you need web space and what that site will ultimately do for you.

Real World vs. Online

A common misconception among new small business owners is that their restaurant, store or other real-world place of business will be all they need to establish themselves. Unfortunately, the days when this was true are long gone. In today’s world, where consumers can do virtually anything online, the lack of an internet presence can be a huge disadvantage. The online community has become part of the ‘real world,’ and your business needs to be a part of that world.

Consumer Trust

Years ago, it was considered a big red flag if a company did not have a phone number displayed someplace in their storefront, catalog or on their product. This displayed a lack of openness, and made many customers wary of trusting the company.

These days, the lack of a web space has precisely the same effect. Imagine that your friend stumbles across a brand-new restaurant, has an incredible dining experience and tells you about their discovery.  You’ll almost certainly look the restaurant up online. You may just be seeking directions, but there’s a good chance you’ll also want to read reviews and the menu. You’ll also be expecting, consciously or not, a few photos of the restaurant and perhaps the proprietor.

What if you found nothing? No website, no pictures, not even a Facebook page. How would you feel about trying out this new restaurant? If you’re like many diners, you might feel a bit wary, wondering precisely why there is no internet ‘evidence’ of this restaurant. Is it dodging a health-code violation from another area? In all likelihood, you would pass up the chance to check it out, sticking with a dining establishment you either know or can check out online in advance.

This pattern of thinking is true for virtually all types of businesses. Consumers have come to equate web space with a certain level of credibility. Given the simplicity of setting up a basic web page, there is no excuse for losing potential customers over the lack of a website. Browsing our recommended hosts will give you an idea of just how much a well-structured website can do for your business.

Consumer Convenience

In addition to trust, consumers greatly appreciate the extra level of convenience which a well-planned website can offer. In the case of a restaurant, they can read through the menu before they leave the house and, if necessary, make reservations online to save time. Other businesses can save customers time by offering e-commerce options, allowing them to purchase goods and services from the comfort of their own homes. These simple conveniences are huge when it comes to fostering a good relationship with consumers. As a society, we’ve become accustomed to the ease and convenience of online shopping, and no small business can afford to deny that convenience to their customers, would-be or otherwise.

Conclusion

Regardless of how small or new your business may be, you need web space. It adds to your credibility, fosters consumer trust and makes it more convenient for consumers to purchase from you. Social media sites are great additions to a business, but they can’t replace the reliable, trustworthy impression which a stand-alone website can create. Get started today. Our comparison tool is a great place to begin.

 

How to Choose a Web Space Provider

As a small business owner, you already know that jumping into a big business decision without proper groundwork is a bad idea. You’ve probably put a great deal of time and effort into other aspects of your business, so why should your web space be any different? These principles apply to every type of web space, including bloggers and other non-business sites. Here, we’ll review the most common rookie mistakes, as well as easy ways to avoid the hassle. Choosing one of our top recommendations can eliminate many of these mistakes from the beginning.

Shop Around

We shop for bargains everywhere…don’t make the common mistake of jumping on board with the first web space package you stumble across. This happens so often because many of us simply lack a background in tech knowledge. While you don’t need an IT degree to purchase a sensible web space package, you do need to take a bit of time to comparison-shop. Even if the first package you find does happen to be a great deal, resist the urge to purchase. The package will still be there after you’ve shopped around a bit.

Research your options just like you would research before any large purchase. Compare basic features and their prices, along with the more uncommon features you feel will benefit your web space. There’s no magic number when it comes to comparison shopping, but it’s a good idea to review at least three to five companies before making a decision.

Choosing the Best Features

A big part of creating the best possible web space for your business is choosing the right features. There are tons of site features available to you, from common to downright strange. Knowing which features will best benefit your business is key to making smart purchasing decisions.

You can start researching this step by visiting sites which offer similar products or services to your own. Bloggers can approach it in much the same way; visit and study blogs which you enjoy, find entertaining and visually appealing.

Study all these sites, taking the best features from each. Think about how each feature will benefit your visitors, and how it will generate more business or traffic. In addition, think about cost and maintenance. A great feature which is never updated or maintained won’t draw visitors—it’ll drive them away.

For those just starting out, it’s best to start small. Begin with a web space package which isn’t quite bare-bones, but doesn’t pile on the extras either. These mid-level packages give you room to grow without overwhelming you with maintenance tasks and higher costs.

Preparation is Key

Before your web space goes ‘live,’ it should be tested, re-tested and tested several more times. Test every single feature, using a variety of devices, browsers and platforms. In short, ensure that each and every potential visitor will be able to take full advantage of every feature. Once you’re up and running, this thorough testing should be carried out on a regular basis to keep up with updates and fixes. Properly maintaining your web space does require a bit of dedication on your part, but the increased business and visitor traffic you see will be well worth the effort. If your site is live and hasn’t been thoroughly tested, now’s the time!

Is Facebook Enough for Your Small Business?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are websites familiar to virtually everybody. In addition, they’re completely free of charge. While this makes them very attractive to cash-strapped small business owners seeking to create web space, there are some very important points to consider. Here, we’ll discuss precisely what social media sites can, and can’t, do for your small business.

Enough is Not Enough

The first basic mistake in assuming that a social media presence is ‘enough’ for your small business is the concept of settling for ‘enough.’ Your business is your baby, your dream, your ambition. Do you really want to settle for ‘enough?’ While your business may not be ready for a completely interactive, visually stunning website which rivals those of major, nationally-known companies, it deserves more than ‘enough.’ Even our budget picks can deliver highly professional and traffic-generating sites, so there’s no excuse to linger on social media.

Consider Your Image

Social media sites are attractive for many reasons, one of the largest being their cost—nothing. However, this also means that social media is literally teeming with pages and accounts. The public perception of social media sites varies widely from one individual to the next. Although your Facebook page may be leaps and bounds ahead in terms of content and quality, it’s still a Facebook page, just like your best friend’s tenth-grade daughter maintains.

Taking Full Advantage

This is not to say that social media doesn’t have its place. In fact, social media can be an incredibly powerful and positive tool for your small business. It’s all in how you utilize the resource. Facebook is an excellent platform for many different types of marketing, from posting photos to hosting contests to keeping fans abreast of the latest developments. Twitter and Instagram are excellent for keeping customers in-the-know without bogging them down with an overload of information; they’re also great for keeping your business fresh in the minds of consumers. Pinterest, with its photo-showcase potential, can be a truly powerful way to show off the best of your visual assets. Think up creative themes for boards and view them as a way to entertain and inform your consumers.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when maintaining a social media presence for your business is to remain professional. If you have personal accounts, keep them entirely separate from your business web space. You may adore pop music, but some of your customers may not, and seeing a long line of Gaga and Bieber attached to your page can look unprofessional. When using your business accounts, keep things professional, including views, likes, links and every other type of virtual ‘trail.’

The Next Step

As wonderful as social media sites are, they simply can’t replace the solid, trustworthy impression of a stand-alone website. Anybody can create a social media page or account—a stand-alone web space shows that you’re serious about, and dedicated to, your business and your customers.

Build your website using the same themes you’ve picked up from using social media networks. Keep things interesting, interactive and engaging. Update the content of your site regularly to keep it from falling into the dreaded ‘dead’ category.

At the same time, maintain your social media presence with the same level of dedication. Social media is not enough for your small business, but it’s a completely cost-free tool which no small business owner can afford to ignore. A great way to set your social media pages apart from the rest is to link them back to your website. This can be done in a variety of ways, and for a variety of reasons. Choose the methods which best complement the type of business you’re in, and remember to keep things professional. Get started today by browsing our recommendations, and rise above the social media crowd!

How to Lose Web Customers in Five Easy Steps

Attracting new visitors to your web space can be a challenge. Unfortunately, losing customers is much easier. Here, we’ve collected the top five ways in which customers are lost, and easy fixes for each issue.

Boredom

Visitors today have come to expect a visually exciting, informative, and fun-to-browse web space. If your site comes up lacking, you can kiss those visitors goodbye. Many small business owners and bloggers unwittingly lose customers by failing to pay attention to details like visual appeal and creating engaging content.

The Winning Strategy

In order to attract visitors to your web space and keep them there, simply ensure that your site is a fun place to be! Provide plenty of photographs and interesting information. If your site includes product descriptions, make them as vivid as possible. Pay attention to how each page of your site looks, and make changes as necessary. Once you’ve determined the unique aspects which make your web space exciting, you’ll be surprised at how little time it actually takes to keep them well-maintained.

Slow Response Times

If your web space hosts anything which invites visitor feedback, such as a forum, blog or chat, keeping on top of your response times is critical. Many visitors are immediately put off if their comment or question goes unanswered for a long period of time, and many will never return for that very reason.

The Winning Strategy

Set a schedule. You may want to place this response time on your web space, to let visitors know that while they may not get an immediate response, they will receive one in a timely manner. One week should be your absolute maximum amount of time, but a few days will create even happier visitors. A great way to get used to your schedule is to give yourself a week-long maximum reply time, but check in and reply to posts, questions or comments whenever you have a few spare minutes.

Infrequent Blog Posts

Have you ever become a fan of a blog, only to inexplicably see its creator simply disappear? Frustrating, right? Don’t leave your visitors with that same feeling of disappointment. If your web space includes or is centered around a blog, a schedule is essential. Visitors enjoy knowing that they’ll be treated to fresh content on a regular basis, and if you begin letting them down, they’ll become less and less likely to return.

The Winning Strategy

Set a schedule. Yes, another item for your schedule—but one which will reap huge benefits in visitor loyalty. Depending on your available time, set a fixed number of posts per week. It’s also a good idea to make this number visible on your web space, so visitors will know what to expect. Once you’ve set that expectation, meet it every single week. Even if you’re stuck for an idea, there’s nothing exciting to blog about or you’ve been out of town visiting relatives all week, type out something and post it. Visitors will appreciate the reliability, and you’ll see the results via increased traffic.

Lack of Basic Information

When visiting your web space, visitors should be able to see—or very easily access—basic information about your company, store, or business. This essential information varies, depending on what type of business you own. However, common examples include driving directions, phone numbers and hours of operation. Our top picks will guide you through much of this process, ensuring that vital data is never left out.

The Winning Strategy

Keep it Simple. This is, perhaps, the easiest of all fixes. Simply ensure that your essential information is easy to find on your web space’s home page. There may be other, more exciting things which you want to shine a spotlight on, but your landing page needs to include this information. Placing it at the very bottom of the page is perfectly fine, and actually very common. Just ensure that it’s easy to find.

Lack of Interactive Options

Even the most basic sites today usually feature some type of interaction. This can be as simple as the option to leave comments on a blog, or it can be as elaborate as the option to create a custom order. Choose the options which make the most sense for your unique business, then keep them well-maintained. Visitors to your site have become accustomed to interactive options, and a flat, boring page is a surefire way to send them away disappointed.

The Winning Strategy

Choose carefully. Don’t go crazy and pile all the interactive options you can find onto your site. This will only lead to confusion, and you probably won’t have time to properly maintain them all. Instead, pick the options which best complement your business, and maintain them extremely well. Keep your visitors up to date and current, respond in a timely manner if applicable and ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Conclusion

As you can see, losing customers is easy. Thankfully, with a bit of forethought and dedication, keeping them and winning new ones is just as simple. A guiding principle of retail sales is to never allow a customer to walk out of the store unhappy. Your web space is your ‘store,’ so ensure that each visitor leaves with a positive memory and a plan to return. Get started today with side-by-side comparisons of traffic-driving plans and features!

Do You Really Need E-Commerce?

E-Commerce, for many online sellers, is somewhat like the last frontier. You want to offer the service, you think you’re ready, but something keeps holding you back. What if you make a mistake? What if something goes wrong? What if…what if…?

This type of thinking, although common, is ultimately bad for business. Your web space deserves all the time and attention you can give it, and your customers deserve the utmost in convenience. In short, if you’re selling products, you do need e-commerce. Here, we’ll review the best ways to get started and the benefits your customers will enjoy.

Start with Existing Marketplaces

For the truly commerce-phobic, sites which incorporate e-commerce are an excellent way to become familiar with selling online. Etsy, which is dedicated to handmade and vintage products, is a great example. Through these sites, you can become familiar with the process of handling credit card and PayPal orders. After a while, once you feel more confident, you can move up to offering e-commerce in your own personal web space.

Choose a Trusted Platform or Software

There are several reliable and trustworthy selling platforms out there, each backed by a reputable security guarantee. These are your choices—don’t be tempted to cut costs by choosing an unknown provider. When dealing with customers’ money, safety is key. Your web space needs to be a safe place for customers to shop, and a cut-rate e-commerce provider is a very dangerous way to save a few bucks.

Make It Convenient

In the past, you’ve probably found a product or service online, only to find that you can’t purchase it. Frustrating, right? Don’t let your customers go through this—they’re likely to end up becoming somebody else’s customers.

Convenience is huge when it comes to online shopping, and a checkout right on your web space is the most convenient option. While some online sellers start by offering products through a larger site such as Amazon, keep in mind that this also automatically places other products in front of your customers. Start small if you must, but keep your own e-commerce web space as your ultimate goal. In today’s society, where we’ve all been conditioned to expect service at a single click, your customers will appreciate the effort.

Show Your Accepted Payment Methods

Whether it’s actually true or not, seeing a verified, familiar e-commerce checkout logo on a web space automatically instills a level of trust in customers. Seeing that your web space will accept their credit card or PayPal lets them know that you’re serious about your business, and have taken the steps to ensure a speedy, convenient checkout experience. This speaks volumes about your reliability as a seller, and nearly always leads to increased sales.

If you’re on an extremely tight budget, you may want to begin by accepting only PayPal. This is low-cost in nearly every scenario, and is quickly becoming one of the most trusted forms of e-commerce. Once the increased sales start rolling in, you’ll have enough extra cash to advance your e-commerce into having your own credit card merchant account. In the meantime, however, your customers will still feel an increased level of trust at seeing an e-commerce name they know related to your web space.

Look Professional

There are a few major, nationally-known sites which simply do not offer e-commerce. This is common in the worlds of haute couture, for example. However, these sites can afford to avoid e-commerce because they are so well known. For most small businesses, this level of name recognition is still years into the future.

In order to appear as professional as possible, e-commerce is a must. Regardless of how detailed your product or service descriptions, or how beautiful your photographs, customers will feel they’re dealing with an amateur if they can’t purchase via your own web space.

Conclusion

Although it can be daunting at first, e-commerce is a true must for any serious business-related web space. Not only will it make purchasing more convenient for your customers, but it will lend your site an air of professionalism and consumer trust which can’t be found through any other site component. Want to get started today? Check out these hosts, all of which let you install an e-commerce system with a few clicks!