What Websites and Email Addresses Say about your Credibility

Remember the days when a business was not considered “credible” unless they had a FAX number? In today’s Internet business economy you could be losing credibility just by the online signatures you leave.

I spend a lot of time telling you how to promote your business online and help customers find you through the search engines, but what about the people that may already know about you or find out about you through a more traditional method?

For many of your potential customers, the first thing they look for on your business card or in your ad is a website. The customer who is checking out at the cash register in the lobby of your restaurant may pick up your card, hoping to consult your menu from home at a later time to help plan a special event. Yet, when they get home and realize there is no website on the card, you have taken yourself out of the competition for their business. The person reading your ad in the yellow pages hopes to consult your website before deciding if they will call you to fix their plumbing problem. Again, no website in your ad, and you are out of the running.

And what about an email address? For many consumers and businesses, email has replaced snail mail and fax machines as a main method of communication…sometimes as important, or even more important, than the telephone. Email is a timesaver, so if you don’t have one, what does that say about your customer service? Not having an email address makes it difficult for many people to reach you, and they may not be willing to make the extra effort to pick up the telephone even if your phone number is right in front of them. Sometimes even having an email address is not always enough. Business that use free email services are sometimes not taken seriously. Which email address sounds more credible and stable: “joe@joeselectrical.com” or the guy at “electrician@hotmail.com?”

Times have changed. Everything is faster these days, particularly when it comes to making buying decisions. Sometimes we have less than 60 seconds to make a good online impression. What does your website and email address say about your business? Speed has raised the bar. Having a fax number is no longer an indication of stability and credibility.

Your website and email address is your electronic signature. How do you stack up with the competition? Do you make it easy for new customers to contact you and buy from you? Do you deserve their trust? Does your business look like it has kept up with the times?

Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 12:22 AM  Comments (1)  
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We Had a Website Once

As I travel around, speaking to business owners about the power of web presence, I am not often surprised by what I hear. However, one thing that always seems to catch me off guard is the comment, “We had a website and we let it go.”

Usually, this is offered as an explanation as to why they do not have a website, but even more bizarrely, as justification as to why they do not need one now. This is simply nuts and here’s why.

If you once had a website, then you probably understood the benefits of a powerful web presence, and made the decision in favor of it. But what happened? Obviously it did not perform as expected or customers and prospects would, right now, be able to find you online.

Why didn’t it deliver results? Perhaps it was an ineffective design or poorly maintained. Perhaps no one could find it because it was not effectively marketed. In any event, it was not because websites do not work.

Imagine this:

You mistakenly print a competitor’s name and address on a marketing flyer and distribute throughout the tri-state area. While customers flood to your competitor’s store, you wonder why your flyer isn’t working. Do you blame the concept of a marketing flyer, and decide that using marketing flyers is not an effective way to advertise your company? Do flyers simply not work? Of course not! It was the way you used the tool that was flawed, not the tool itself.

So, why does the fact that you once utilized a website incorrectly lead to the conclusion that websites don’t work?

What can you do? Well, you can find a website developer with a proven track record of building and marketing successful websites for small businesses. Do your research and, the second time; use the right tool in the right way! Websites work. The Internet is here to stay. Don’t dismiss the effectiveness of this powerful tool simply because your first attempt did not work. Wise business owners make the time to understand mistakes so that they can adjust and respond more effectively. Be the wise business owner you know you are. Build a website that works and you’ll be very pleased that you did.