In this article, we will share some practical tips on how to get your business online with a small budget.
Are you looking to take your small business online without spending a lot of money? If you are just starting out, or if your business has been impacted by the COVID-19 economic downturn, then you cannot afford to waste money.
Do I Need a Website?
Not necessarily, many start-up businesses start with a simple presence on social media.
Facebook is the most common place to start – nearly everyone has one – meaning you have a really large pool of potential customers you can target. If managed effectively, a Facebook business page can quickly grow a base of followers and customers.
If your product or service is a bit more visual – Instagram is a great option as well. Instagram tends to target younger adults, but is a great place to tell the story behind your product or service in a creative way.
Also, don’t overlook the power of the largest online business directory of all – Google My Business. With Google My Business, you can create a free business profile, add your location, hours and other information. Then once approved, your business will show up in the Map of local Google search results.
If you’re already up and running on these platforms and want to take things further, a website can be really beneficial. A website improves your businesses credibility and gives you a platform on which to build your brand and reputation. Executed well, your website will become the centre of your online marketing efforts and becomes the destination you drive all your visitors to engage with your brand, message, products or services. So where do you start?
How do I Get Started with a Website?
Creating a website for your business can seem pretty daunting and it’s often hard to know where to start. To help ease some of these unknowns, I’ve put together a quick checklist of things you can look at to get the ball rolling:
Step One: Identify the purpose of your website
Maybe you have a story to tell, a service to share or a product to sell. Whatever it is your business specialises in it’s important to identify the key purpose of your website, and what goals you would like to achieve with it.
Keep these goals short and attainable – if you have a service, your goal is probably to have customers pick up the phone and give you a call. If you’re selling products, your goal might be to provide good information and images of your product, and inform your customers how or where they can buy it.
Step Two: Get a Domain Name
Having your own domain name (your unique online address) will give you and your business a more professional look. It can also give you matching email addresses. Customers trust emails that match the business name over those with generic email addresses, e.g. [email protected] instead of [email protected].
There are a couple of ways to see if the domain name you want is available. First, simply type the URL (e.g. smithandsons.co.nz) into dnc.org.nz search and it will tell you if the domain can be registered or not.
To register a domain name, we recommend you use a .nz Authorised Registrar. You will find a list of registrars at https://www.dnc.org.nz/registrars.
Step Three: Plan Your Website
So you know the purpose of your website, and how your customers are going to get to it. Now you need to think about the journey you want them to be taken on once they’re there. It’s important to provide all the information your customers might need but in small, digestible quantities. Some key pages most websites have are:
- The homepage – this acts as a portal to the rest of the website. Briefly introduce your users to who you are and what you do and provide them with plenty of jump-off points to explore more information on the other pages of your site.
- About Us – here you can talk about how your business came to be, your history and your values. This is a great place to put a face to your service or product.
- Our Services or Our Products – this is the nitty-gritty of the website where you get to delve into detail what exactly your offerings are and why yours are better than your competitors.
- Contact Us – here is where you provide your key contact information. It can be beneficial to provide a contact form here also so a customer can contact you directly without the need to take any additional steps. If contact is the main goal of your website, it can be a good idea to include your phone number and/or email in the header of the footer of the website also.
As well as thinking about the structure of your website, you also need to think about how it might look. It’s important to keep a consistent look and feel across all your marketing platforms so remember to include your logo, your company colours, relevant imagery and graphics.
Step Four: Building Your Website
Now you are ready to move forward with a new website for your business. One question remains – do you go with a professionally designed, custom-built website or do you use a template?
There are many platforms out there (such as Squarespace, Wix, Webflow and WordPress) that allow you to build your own website starting from a template, these can help you get a website up and running quickly and easily.
It is important to consider how your time is best spent within your business. Are you are tech-savvy? Is delving into a template and building your own site an enjoyable experience? Are there other areas of your business that need your attention?
It is also important to consider the limitations that can come with DIY website builders. If you have complex requirements or expect high visitor volumes then a simple template site probably isn’t for you.
Of course, here at Meta Digital, we are huge advocates of creating a custom-designed website. This means your website has been planned and designed to help you achieve your business goals; more customers, more sales and more impact online.
If you only need a basic website that has info on your business, have a look at some DIY website builders. If you are after a large website, you should probably look to use a web designer who will work with you to plan and create features that you need. If you just want to talk through your options and get some advice – we are here to help.
Other helpful resources: https://www.business.govt.nz/getting-started/building-a-brand/getting-an-online-presence/.
There are many other ways to gain a strong online presence but we hope this article gave you a place to start. We have put together a more thorough list on how you can keep your business at your customers front of mind during these budget constricting times. View that here.
About the author
A veteran Digital Strategist with over 20 years experience, Norman McKenzie has worked alongside 100’s of businesses and organisations – ranging from startups to national brands – to help them to build their presence online and reach more customers. Norman heads Meta Digital, a small team of enthusiastic experts in the digital design and communications space. Are you looking to have a greater impact online – we’d love to help! Contact us today.