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Rich Brooks

Designing Your Small Business Website for Your Ideal Customer

Thursday, Jan 17, 2013

How do you design a website that will attract, engage and convert your ideal customer? Unfortunately, that's a question that most small business owners don't ask until they realize their website is doing none of those things.

If your website is underperforming, if it's not generating leads and building your business, this article will help you redesign your site for increased traffic and conversions.

Who is your ideal customer?

Many small businesses struggle with defining who their ideal customer is. I remember talking with a marketer for a local restaurant who said his target audience was anyone who needed to eat to survive.

I'm guessing he was kidding, but most entrepreneurs overestimate who can and would use their products or services.

A barber might need to refine his ideal customer by geography. Or gender. Or age. Or baldness. A copywriter might need to focus solely on businesses. Or, more narrowly, decision makers in financial institutions that can't afford to hire an inhouse copywriter.

Other filters might include lifestyle, health, income, marital status, political leanings or religious background.

Your ideal customer isn't your only type of customer, but it's important to have a focus. Your ideal customer is the person who is in the best position to hire or buy from you.

What is their biggest problem?

Generally, when people go to Google or visit your website, they have a problem that needs fixing.

We use the web to gather information and solve problems, from how to build an email subscriber list to how deal with a cat that won't use the litter. From how to market our small business to what to buy Grandma for her 70th birthday.

To attract visitors to your website you need to create content that addresses their problems. Content that gets picked up by the search engines and becomes a relevant result and page one material. It could be an article, a blog post, an ROI calculator or a how-to video.

Remember: your website is not about you, it's about your visitor. The more you can focus your content on their needs and not your own, the further along you are designing your small business website for your ideal customer.

Take things to the next level.

Not everyone who comes to your website for answers is going to become a customer. Some may be able to solve their problems with the free content that's on your site. Others may live too far away, or not have enough disposable income, or not be in the market for what you have to sell.

However, many visitors may be ready to make a buying decision or move further down the sales funnel. For those visitors you need to make it as easy for them to engage you as possible.

If your site is mostly a lead generation site—true for many B2B and service provider sites—than you need to know what your conversion points are.

When visitors fill out your contact form or pick up the phone, it greatly increases your chances of doing business with them, and you should measure those as conversion points.

If you have Google Analytics installed, you can setup a Goal to measure your results for completed contact forms. There are also services that let you measure whether incoming phone calls were generated by someone visiting your website, which you can also measure.

At flyte we've discovered that getting people to join our mailing list greatly increases our chances of landing their business, so we measure email signups as conversion points. While this is a little trickier to set up, you can still measure this through Google Analytics' Goals.

If your website is primarily e-commerce, measurement is easier: when you sell a product, you've gotten a conversion. However, you may want to measure other metrics as well, such as email signups or social media shares.

Whether lead generation or e-commerce is your goal, there are certain things you can do to create a better experience for your visitors while increasing your conversion rate:

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About the Author:
Rich Brooks is president of flyte new media, a Web site design and Internet marketing company in Portland, Maine. Flyte works with small businesses to build professional Web sites that often include e-commerce, Flash and content management systems. They promote their clients' sites through search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, business blogs and social media. You can follow him on Twitter at
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