Successful businesses understand that a strong web presence is a must in today’s technology-savvy world. Research shows that more and more consumers are buying products and services online. This trend is only expected to grow.

A recent survey of roughly 5,000 online shoppers found that — for the first time — they purchased more products and services online (51 percent) than they did in stores.

That’s why it’s essential for businesses to build websites that are easy to find, user-friendly, and give visitors the information they’re looking for — when they need it. When done well, a website attracts potential customers to a business and helps convert them into loyal customers.

But how does a business know if its website is effective? One way is to use web-based analytical tools to evaluate factors such as:

• Bounce Rate — This occurs when a visitor clicks on just one page on your website. If the visitor finds everything he or she is looking for, the bounce rate is a good thing. But, if not, the bounce rate suggests your website is not effective and needs some tinkering.

• Traffic Sources — When you know how visitors are finding you — whether it’s through search engines, social media, referrals from other websites, etc. — you can determine whether your marketing efforts are working. For example, your traffic from search engines should increase if you are investing in search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click advertising.

• Sessions — This is the number of times your site is visited, including repeat visits. You can use this information to increase your business. For example, when you know what days of the week draw the most visitors, you can plan promotional offers or new content on those days.

Other factors to consider include length of session, page views, and devices and browsers.

An important factor that influences a website’s effectiveness is whether it is mobile-responsive. A website that isn’t mobile-friendly and fails to immediately meet the expectations and needs of visitors, no matter the size of the screen they’re viewing on, translates into lost business opportunities.

If a website is more than a few years old, it probably needs some fine-tuning or perhaps a complete overhaul. Warning signs include slow page load time, a branding message that misses the mark, stale information, pages that aren’t user-friendly, and old back-end technology that makes editing the site nearly impossible.

It’s also essential to establish a business’s brand and tailor the website and its content to be consistent with the brand message. When branding is done correctly and incorporated into marketing, customers will connect with companies and their products.

Most small businesses lack the time, manpower, and expertise to maximize their websites’ potential. That’s why it’s critical to choose the best marketing firm for the job. A small business web design agency that understands a business’s brand is its greatest asset. Don’t rely on an agency that specializes only in churning out templated sites or focuses solely on search engine optimization, especially those that use automated tactics. Instead, put a brand ambassador on the job, and your website will be sure to stand out among the competition.

Publication date: 2/20/2017

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