Getting your SME online

Mark Harper_Suncorp.jpgLast week, Mark Harper, the Executive Manager of Business Lending Products at Suncorp, discussed the benefits of the online revolution  to small and medium sized businesses. This week he talks about how SMEs can actually do so by launching a website.

While some business owners may think, "I have survived so far without the internet, so I'm fine", most other business owners, however, will largely view this attitude as swimming against the tide.

It is never too late for SMEs to get their business online- and it can be cheaper and easier than most think.

It only takes three simple steps to get your website up and running.

  • Identity - a domain name is your business' online identity and helps people find your business online - it's your address on the internet. Selecting and securing a domain name is one of the most important steps in building your website.
  • Hosting - In order to build a website, you need a web hosting service to store all the files that you want to load onto it. Hosting ranges from presenting a simple product and contact information right through to websites which provide full e-commerce and database driven transactions.
  • Build - Many hosting companies provide easy-to-use templates where you can create a professional looking websites with shopping carts without any programming knowledge. If you know how to use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, you can knock out a website in just a few hours.

Once your site has been established, it's time to think about what to put on your website. Below are the nine key components of a successful SME website.

  1. "About Us" page 

    This should succinctly detail what your business offers, your history, the key people behind it and anything else your visitors should know about your business. 

  2. "Contact Us" page

    This is a complete list of ways site visitors can contact you. Include e-mail addresses, toll-free phone numbers and your business's physical address.

  3. "Testimonials" page

    It's natural for people to want to know what others have to say about your business. Include some positive feedback or success stories about your product or service and attribute them to your happy customers.

  4. "Product or Services" page

    Think of this as your marketing catalogue. List each product or service you offer, with key features and benefits.

  5. "Privacy Policy" page

    Internet users are more conscious about safety and privacy than ever, so a good privacy policy is an absolute must. Many companies require that you have a privacy policy before they do business with you.

  6. "F.A.Q." page

    This page lists the questions most commonly asked by customers and prospective customers along with their answers, to ensure you won't have to individually answer the same questions over and over, which will save you time and money.

  7. "Giveaways" page

    Do you want people to sign up for your newsletter, e-newsletter or be made aware of special offers?  Create a section on your site where users can enter their contact details to subscribe for your communications in exchange for a benefit or giveaway, such as free shipping on the next order, or going into a draw to win a prize etc.

  8. "Confirmation" functionality

    This is a decent confirmation page that acknowledges an interaction and thanks the visitor for their custom is essential.

  9. "External validation" functionality

    When customers feel secure on your website, they're more likely to complete a purchase or interact with your site. Secure site seals and trustmarks from globally recognised certificate authorities instantly show website visitors that their personal data is safeguarded by your website.

Next week's Expert's Corner article will discuss how to make the most of your SME's online presence.

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