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Read time : 6 mins Added: 05/10/2023
From building relationships to being a digital extension of your brand, we look at why it’s so important to have a strong online presence in today’s digital age with 10 simple steps.
Having a website can be useful for businesses as it is a place to promote your brand and can result in a higher turnover.
A website also showcases your business 24/7 to prospective customers.
Even if you’ve been successful on social channels or third party sites, you may find having your own website useful. It allows a more direct relationship with users. This is particularly important if you have products and services you can sell online.
But even if you don’t sell anything digitally, you can use a website as an extension of your brand and your business card. You can offer information about your business and services, show happy customers with testimonials and showcase your experience, knowledge and other credentials.
Other benefits of websites could include:
First you need to decide what you want your website to do for you and how you want it to operate. Will it be a shop? Will it be mostly static with information about your business and its products or services? Or do you want to make regular updates to show what your latest thinking is, highlight your knowledge and provide your customers with useful insights?
If you are thinking about regular updates, consider whether you have the resources and time to do these.
Knowing what you want to do can help you decide how best to develop your website, how you update it and whether you need shopping software and the ability to handle card payments.
It is, of course, possible to start with a simple website and grow it over time. Understanding what you want your website to do and who its audience is can help you decide which channels to promote it on – whether that is Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) or elsewhere.
Once you know why you want a website, and what you want it to do for your business, you can start getting one set up.
You can’t have a website without a domain name. You’ll generally want one closely related to your business name and then decide the domain type, for example: ‘.co.uk’, ‘.com’ or ‘.org’. What you select may depend on availability, cost and your type of organisation.
You can purchase a domain name (mycompany.com) from a domain registrar, such as Easyspace, Godaddy or UK21, or through the third-party website builder you use to create your website.
If you decide to build your own site via a third-party website builder, make sure they offer the features that you want for your site. Features such as galleries, animations, video, mapping tools, links to your social accounts and forms are all useful. When adding a shopping cart, you’ll need to make sure that you can integrate it with the rest of your site.
Ideally, make sure your site design will work equally well on a mobile phone as it does on a laptop or desktop computer.
If you want to build an online store, you may want to opt for a specialist ecommerce provider. Examples of shopping cart software include, Big Cartel, OpenCart and Zen Cart1 to display your products, as well as to track orders and manage inventory. Check out the reviews to find the best one to suit you.
Keep your customers’ details secure by using trustworthy third-party payment software. As well as Lloyds Bank Cardnet, which allows you to accept online payments quickly and securely, there are other providers such as Google Wallet and Paypal1 that you can use for your online store. Integrating this software may be possible through your third-party shopping cart software provider. Non-profit organisations may also use software specifically designed for fundraising, such as Blackbaud, DonorPerfect and thankQ1. For more details, see our guide to accepting online payments.
You’ll need to decide how to host your website. Web hosting is the technology that holds your website on a server and then delivers the web pages to your customers’ browsers through the World Wide Web.
What you need will depend on the likely number of visitors to your site and how quickly numbers will scale up. You may get web hosting as part of your package with your domain provider or website builder. If you haven’t opted for that type of solution, then when choosing a web host you may need to consider things like:
If you have not bought your domain name through the hosting company, you will need to make sure your provider will allow you to use this domain name for your website. You need to be able to set the name you have selected as your primary domain – the one that customers see in their browser address bar. Most of the large providers allow you to do this.
Write copy and use images that help visitors learn about your business's unique brand. Think about your website from the point of view of a user. What do they want to know about your business? Make it easy for visitors to find the information they're looking for by including the following pages:
If you have decided to add content, think about how you will manage this; for example will you have a blog or offer whitepapers or opinion pieces? How will you promote your content? Can you do this through social media?
You also need to be sure that you can update your website yourself without needing any technical skill or incurring too many additional costs.
Protect your business data and keep your website secure by performing routine security checks on work computers and developing an IT security policy for staff. This includes:
You also need to make sure your website is accessible to everybody including people with different disabilities. It should also be discoverable by search engines.
To judge your site’s performance, you’ll need an analytics program such as Google Analytics. This will show you, among other things, where your visitors are coming from and which pages are being looked at and how often. You can use this data to help you improve the visitor experience.
Importantly, knowing where visitors leave your site can help you understand how well it is working. For example, you may get an idea of whether a visitor left after finding the information they wanted or if lots of users are leaving in frustration because something does not work properly – or they can’t find what they need.
You may want to consider how your website can integrate with your marketing ambitions. For example, in exchange for a whitepaper or brochure, you might ask users for their email address to send them a link to download it. You can then use that opportunity to ask if they would like to hear from you more regularly.
You may also want some automated email programmes that automatically send follow-up emails when someone has shown an interest in a brochure or a product. Some systems will remind customers that they left something in their basket without buying as a gentle nudge to get them to complete the purchase.
You might also want to consider setting up a regular newsletter to stay in touch with customers. This means setting up a subscription mechanism too.
Some third-party review websites will allow you to add a module into your website that shows reviews of your products and services for a fee. If you share regularly on X you can also add an element that will showcase your latest posts. This can remind prospects or customers to follow you.
If you are running a campaign, you may be able to create specific landing pages with their own web address included in the campaign. This will show you the number of visitors going directly to that page.
For further information, you can visit pages listed below.
Lloyds Bank Academy: videos and resources
YouGov online: rules for selling online
Information Commissioners Office: A guide to data protection
National Cyber Security Centre: Advice on keeping your organisation secure
Google - The Digital Garage: Free online training courses
1Please note that these are just examples of the types of software available and Lloyds Bank does not endorse the services they provide.
Lloyds Bank is a trading name of Lloyds Bank plc, Bank of Scotland plc, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc and Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH.
Lloyds Bank plc. Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065. Bank of Scotland plc. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Registered in Scotland no. SC327000. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Registered office 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 10399850. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 119278, 169628 and 763256 respectively.
Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH has its registered office at Thurn-und-Taxis Platz 6, 60313 Frankfurt, Germany. The company is registered with the Amtsgericht Frankfurt am Main, HRB 111650. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is supervised by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht.
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