by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks
Establishing a good online presence is a tough proposition for many small businesses. A small business owner with a great physical business and great relationships with customers may simply not have time to learn the how to increase business through an online presence, the money to pay consultants, or maybe even the time to even find the consultants in the first place.
Nevertheless, most small businesses now have websites. The question is, what should you do after you’ve built your website to make the most of your web presence? Luckily, there are a few simple tricks that just about anyone can learn, without spending too much time. These tricks and tools can help your business grow, and may even provide insight to help your business evolve.
Website analytics tell you who came to your website, how long they stayed, and what they did while they were there. The web’s anonymity means that you can’t see everything, but there’s still a lot to learn. For example, some online retailers use web analytics to help figure out whether they should raise or lower the prices on specific products, based on how many users make a purchase after viewing the page.
Big businesses use expensive software and highly trained teams to cutting and dice analytics data. But a small business owner really only needs a little time and one program: Google Analytics. It’s easy to install on a website, simple to learn, and best of all, it’s free.
To get started with Google Analytics, just do a web search to find it and sign up. Google will guide you through all the initial steps. Once the program begins gathering information, you’ll be able to see how many people visit your website on a daily basis, and other important stats like how much time was spent on each page. When you’ve gotten familiar with the basics, you may want to take advantage of features like “funnels”, which show you how users navigate through different parts of your website, and where people tend to get stuck or give up on a purchase.
Go Beyond Your Website
Analyzing the results from Google AdWords and other ad programs (like Microsoft Adcenter for Bing or Yahoo Search Advertising) is key to determining how to advertise to your customers. But finding the keywords your customers use to find you (and your competitors) can be useful for more than just advertising.
A savvy business owner can use keywords to determine the direction that their own company. As a simple example, a pet supply company finding that customers were searching for vegetarian pet food might not only advertise to that audience, but also focus in on that type of food and expand their selection.
Live in the Clouds
“Cloud computing” has gotten a lot of press and generated a lot of buzz, but to take advantage of it, you don’t actually need to know much. Simply put, if you have data (like web pages, video files or even your entire website) that isn’t on a server that you own or rent, it’s probably in the cloud.
The advantage to cloud computing is that most small businesses will pay significantly less for it than they would to maintain their own servers. Also, if anything goes wrong, like a server crash, a cloud host is more likely to fix it, so there’s less risk. A number of companies (including Janus Networks) offer cloud computing services, and they’ll offer support and assistance to help you get started.
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More advantages to cloud computing: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_68/s0908060315092.htm
Go beyond your website http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/business/smallbusiness/15adwords.html