A picture is worth a thousand words, as the oft-used saying goes. When it comes to business, this couldn’t be truer. There is no second chance at a first impression, so it’s important that you put your best foot forward from the start. This has to start with your business’ website.
Looks matter, and whether your business is based purely online or you have a bricks-and-mortar store as well as a website, your online image must be on point. If people are turned off by your website, that’s a lot of potential customers down the drain. If you want to maximise your business’ potential, your image is everything and you need to make sure your business stands out online.
Here are five tips to make sure that your business makes the best first impression online.
- Professional photography is a must
When it comes to your business, you can’t scrimp on presentation. No matter whether you’re a large corporation or working out of your living room, your image is everything. It is worth investing in professional photography to show your business or products in the best light — literally — possible. If you’d rather not hire a photographer and you have some budding shutterbugs in your business, or you’re a dab hand with a camera yourself, taking photography courses could be the route for you. These can be taken online and you can complete them from anywhere and at your own pace. Whichever route you take, excellent photography for your business is imperative.
- Make sure your website is modern and attractive
Having great photos is all well and good, but if they are on an outdated website that is not attractive to look at and easy to use, they will be wasted. If your website doesn’t look like it has been updated since the mid-2000s, people may not take your business seriously. Potential customers might even think you’re no longer trading. A whopping 94% of complaints about websites stem from their design, and an unattractive website is not a good look. Don’t neglect mobile either, as more web traffic comes from mobile devices than anywhere else. Design your website with a mobile-first approach and make sure it’s user-friendly as well as good looking.
- Be active on social media
Your business may have a Facebook page, but what about Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest? Even a YouTube account could be a good idea for raising brand awareness and funnelling traffic back to your site. The ultimate goal is to showcase your business to increase your customer base, and curating an online presence based on excellent imagery and a witty social media presence can pay dividends. You don’t have to constantly crack jokes — nor should you always be promoting — but it’s a good idea to engage with trending topics on Twitter, as well as post regular business updates, to show potential customers that you’re still operating, to demonstrate your expertise and to give your brand a bit of personality.
As a visual platform, Instagram gives you an opportunity to show your business in action as well as provide behind-the-scenes content to add a personal touch to your business. Use social media for your business almost like you use it personally — just with a bit more preparation behind it. If you want to increase your reach further, you can also opt to pay to promote posts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to reach a highly targeted audience.
- Start a useful blog with stories and advice
Your goal as a business is obviously to sell your products and services, but it may help to provide valuable advice via a blog on your website. A blog is a great way to not only keep your customers informed of your business’ progress and plans but also to answer any questions they may have. These questions could be directly about the services or products you provide, but they also may be more general, yet still related, topics. If you are seen as an authoritative resource in your industry, you could attract traffic and business as people look for answers to their queries. WordPress is a popular platform for businesses and there are a variety of themes available that make for attractive and intuitive blogs.
- Have reviews and testimonials on your site
Trust is crucial when it comes to making sales. In addition to your informative and useful blog, reviews and testimonials from your customers will add even more credibility to your business. Think of it as a form of word-of-mouth marketing, just on a much bigger scale. Potential customers will read reviews to get more insight into how you work as a business before they decide to work with or buy from you, and reviews give you an edge over your competitors that lack them. There’s no better way to make your excellent service shine! If you link to testimonials on an external site, don’t forget to closely monitor them and engage with the people who leave reviews — even the negative ones, as this will show you’re engaged and clearly care about your customers’ experiences.
Ori Guttin is a co-founder of Viewbug, an online picture-sharing community, and has spent years working in the internet industry. He specialises in web entrepreneurship, marketing strategy, start-ups and strategic partnerships.