How to stand out online

JULIAN SMITH
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013
website
An effective website will broaden your audience and improve cashflow.

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OPINION: A good website is a vital part of a successful business tosay. With more New Zealanders using the internet than ever before and more customers making spending decisions based on what they think of your online presence, it pays to have an appealing and attractive website.   

To drive sales and attract customers, you need to follow a few simple rules.

1. Give your visitors what they want

Your website needs to give people all the information they need about your business and what you do, in a simple and understandable way. That means putting all the relevant information up front. Customers don’t want to read giant swathes of text or spend forever clicking through links to find the information they need.

2. Keep it simple

Don't let relevant information get lost in clutter. This is especially important when it comes to the design and layout of your website. A busy look will overwhelm the viewer and drown out your message. 

3. Be contactable

One of the most common mistakes when building a website is to hide your contact details. If you want to attract new business, it needs to be as easy as possible for potential customers to get in touch. Be diligent about following up quickly on any enquiries or leads or you'll miss out on business opportunities.

Another great way to ensure you are contactable is to offer visitors the opportunity to get regular updates from you, either by following you on Facebook or Twitter or by signing up to a regular newsletter or email update. This way, your website becomes the first step in an ongoing series of communications between you and potential customers.

4. Be found

The best designed and laid out website in the world won’t matter if no one sees it. Make sure you are using the full range of tools available to drive traffic to your website, including Google AdWords and effective search engine optimisation (SEO).

5. Make it easy to be paid

With e-commerce sites becoming cheaper and easier to use, customers expect they will be able to do more and more business online. Having an e-commerce facility on your website will make it as easy for customers to do business with you and help open up your business to a global audience and marketplace. It also improves cash flow, which in the current economy is always an advantage.

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Julian Smith (@JulianTSmith) is the general manager for MYOB in New Zealand.

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