As someone that has spent most of my career helping businesses to get found, get customers, and get a great reputation, it pains me to have to look for a local business provider.
It’s 2013 and the internet is not a fad that only large corporations are utilizing. It’s an intrinsic part of our lives. So why is it that many local businesses still fail to grasp the concept of making a great first impression.
I’ve spent the last week or so researching everything from chiropractors to tennis courts and just about every local business web site I come across is guilty of at least one of these faux pas.
[highlight color=”yellow”]1. Who are you?[/highlight]
[pullquote]Assume that the vast majority of visitors to your website have never heard of you[/pullquote]Don’t assume that I’ve heard of you. Don’t even assume I know what it is that your business offers. Too many local businesses treat their web sites like a brochure they provide only to those people they’ve actually spoken with. Assume that the vast majority of visitors to your website have never heard of you and may not ever contact you for further information. So, make sure they know who you are, what you do, and why they should trust you.
[highlight color=”yellow”]2. Where are you?[/highlight]
Just yesterday I had to find the location of a tennis court, here in Raleigh. I knew the name of the club and I even knew the sub division they are located within. However, after arriving at their web site, I could not for the life of me find their physical address. They just assumed that I’d know where they were located. Aside from the benefits of being listed in places such as Google Local, putting your address at the bottom of every page is just common courtesy. Include a link to an online map, and you earn bonus points!
[highlight color=”yellow”]3. How do I contact you?[/highlight]
Likewise, why is it so hard to figure out how to reach you? Perhaps you have your phone number buried deep on a single page, or maybe if I squint just right, I’ll find your email address. Don’t make me work so hard. If it takes me more than 3 seconds to spot your contact info, I may go somewhere else.
[highlight color=”yellow”]4. Do you actually respond to that contact form?[/highlight]
[pullquote]I once emailed a construction company and did not hear back for 2 months!![/pullquote]True story. I actually clipped a coupon from a flyer mailed to our house. How old school is that? It was for a chiropractor–my back has been killing me–so it was great timing. I went to their web site and they actually had their hours listed on the site (that could be a bonus tip), so I called them. Guess what, the office was closed. 🙁 So, I filled out their contact form on their page. It has been over a week and I have still not heard back from them. That is not uncommon. I once emailed a construction company and did not hear back for 2 months!! If you’re going to have a contact form on your web site, please make sure it actually goes to someone that will respond.
[highlight color=”yellow”]5. Can I pull your site up on my phone?[/highlight]
Just about every business should make sure their web site is “mobile compatible” but that is even more important for local businesses. I am much more likely to be “out and about” when I decide to look up your web site. Maybe I came from Yelp, or perhaps I drove by your business earlier in the day. Either way, I am now about to go to your web site from my Android, iPhone or other smart device. How does your site look? Can I quickly get all of the above information? If your web site is due for a redesign, I must insist you make sure that you build it to be responsive in its design.
These are the five fundamentals that I see local businesses failing at all the time. Just one of these points-of-failure can lead to a bad first impression–a bad “first reputation.” What else would you add?