- Be strategic, know what you want to achieve with your business website
- Look after your existing customers; they are your greatest asset
- Ask every customer, in store and online, for their email address so you can create a data base
Amanda Ferry and her husband Karl Morris started GOOP in 2007, working from the lounge room of their home in Geelong. Karl was working for Sensis but after he completed a Master in Virtual Communications at RMIT and a final paper on 'Website versus Yellow Pages' it became evident that websites that rank in Google were the future of marketing and promotion for small to medium businesses across Australia.
'We saw a gap in the website market. Most website builders were either techies with no design skills or designers with no website development skills, and neither considered what we believed was the most crucial point – a website is a business marketing tool, not just an online presence', says Amanda.
Karl and Amanda created GOOP to help small businesses, particularly those often-neglected companies in regional areas, develop an accountable and measurable online presence and – importantly – an effective marketing tool.
From their initial husband and wife business, GOOP now has a specialist team of 11 permanent workers - including site planners responsible for key word research and site structure, copywriters trained in search engine optimisation, designers, marketers and developers – and a band of hand-picked sub-contractors. Most importantly, GOOP now has more than 600 clients Australia wide.
'And why the name GOOP? Well, we believe GOOP represents fluidity – our work moulds to the constantly changing online landscape', says Amanda
Best success moment?
Whilst there are numerous standout moments and countless small victories, signing our first clients, Hare Removals in Ballarat and Sludgebusters in Maryborough, in September 2007 would have to be the most memorable achievements. We realised our idea was going to work.
There have been many great milestones for us along the way but in the end it comes down to providing a great service to your customers, so having clients provide testimonials such as the one below is a highlight.
'I never had any enquiries from my old website, I cannot believe how much traffic and how many enquiries I get from my GOOP website'.
What advice do you have for small business owners on how to maximise their business website?
First up, don’t spend more than $6000 on a website unless you require highly specialised functionality.
Dangers of DIY
Don’t do it all yourself. There are experts who can help. It’s unlikely that you’re an expert in search engine optimised-copywriting, design, development and online marketing. Employ a professional to work with you to best promote your business online.
Do your homework
Do your homework and shop around. Make sure your web developer offers precisely what you need - nothing more, nothing less.
Know what you want to achieve with your business website. Online promotion is not only about having a website; it should be a cohesive and planned approach. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy but your online plan should include a blog within your website, email marketing, social media and video marketing.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket
Don’t pour all your efforts into Facebook. While Facebook is important in your online marketing, it needs to be just one part of a co-ordinated online campaign based around your website. Your website should always be your number one focus for maximum online marketing effectiveness.
Make sure you are using analytics
Make sure you are reviewing your Google Analytics and key word rankings on a regular basis to measure the success of your website and online marketing. If your website doesn’t have Google Analytics then get it. How else can you monitor its success? And if your website isn’t performing in Google, ask your developer why and what steps they’re going to take to make it perform.
If your website developer doesn’t provide Google Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, blogging capability and Google ranking reports as standard, ask why. If they want more money to include those features in your website, get another developer.
What advice would you give to online retailers and how they can increase sales?
You need more than just a shopping cart
Just building a shopping cart will not deliver sales. Your products and services are most likely available to purchase from various online retailers. Ask yourself how you can stand out from the competition? Find a point of difference and capitalise on it. Have you considered your online shopping cart? Can customers search, for example, by category, brand and size? With the wealth of competition online you have to find a way to make your customers’ experience the easiest and the best.
Smart blogs work
Regularly add key word-focused blog posts to your website to increase your shopping cart’s and website’s visibility. Blogging is possibly one of the simplest but most effective ways to boost your online profile and presence.
Build your data base
Ask every customer, in store and online, for their email address so you can create a data base. You can use this database to strategically market products and services to your existing customers. Remember, people who provide their email addresses are happy to receive emails from your business. If they didn’t want emails, they wouldn’t give you their address.
Work hard on customer service
Look after your existing customers; they are your greatest asset. Certainly pursue new customers but never lose focus of the fact that when you a good job for your existing customers they become your greatest advocates. Your existing customers effectively become your extended sales team.
What are the challenges you face as a small business owner and how do you overcome these?
If only there were more hours in the day. However, we’ve found the solution to this dilemma is finding and hiring the best staff you can afford. Certainly work hard and work long hours when you have to but realise there will come a day when you have to increase your workforce. If you and you alone are your business, then your business fails if anything happens to you.
Don’t keep all your plans and processes in your head. Again, what happens to the business if anything happens to you? Find the time to document processes and strategies.
Time – again!
Dedicate time to work on the business. It is critical to think ahead at all times. How can we improve our products, staff training, processes etc?
Engaging an external consultant to support the business was one of the best decisions we’ve made and has been of great benefit. Having a qualified, independent point of view is critical. It also keeps you accountable.