The internet has obliterated the old barriers to entry that used to exist. I don’t even have to register my company anymore. I can just operate as a sole trader and still look like an absolute pro at what I do. All you need is a great website which gives you the credibility you need. There is no need for an office, staff, stock, or even a server.
That is why it is so easy for your competition to dominate you. With a small pile of cash, anyone can take over any local market.
Here are 7 reasons why your competitors will dominate you (if they read this)
Reason #1 – Your website sucks
It is true, most small business websites absolutely stink. I suspect it is because the web design companies are so bad. However, this gives you and your competition a massive opportunity. By being one of the only incredible looking websites in your space, you can foster more trust. Way more!
According to Usuability.gov
“The design and presentation of a Web site is strongly visual and users are known to make aesthetic judgments of a site very quickly.”
What you can do about it
Fix your website, and fix it quickly! The longer you linger the more time you are giving your competitors to find out how important a great looking website is.
Reason #2 – Understanding why visitors take action
Right, so you have an OK looking website, but did your designer understand why visitors take an action? Do they understand what makes someone click on something? The chances are that your website doesn’t have the proper structure in place to convert visitors into prospects.
Some of your competitors have already gone down this route, but there is a simple way to double or even triple the number of sales that come from your website by having the correct structure in place.
Guess what? Simple isn’t always better. By adding another step in the process might just be what is needed.
The Obama administration boosted their conversion rate by 5% by adding an extra step to their donation page. Highrise increased their conversion rate by adding pictures of people. The more content your website has the longer visitors stay there, and the more likely they are to turn into a customer, but you have to make sure it is organized properly.
I can list dozens of examples of what has made certain websites increase their value, but you need to know is that your competitors can perform any of these tasks to increase their bottom line, and leave you with an empty bucket.
Reason #3 – They are positioned as an expert
So by listing all these examples, studies, and theories, I seem like an expert on this subject right… RIGHT?
Becoming an expert in any particular field is just a few dozen blog posts away. If a potential customers finds out that you have written over 100 articles on the exact subjects they need help with, well they are going to assume that you are the Don Corleone.
Not only that, the more you blog, the more traffic you will get. So not only will your competitor seem like the Don in your industry, they will also attract more traffic and links to their website.
Example: Copyblogger.com used to blog just once per week and received almost NO TRAFFIC in the beginning. Now they get more than 200,000 visitors per day (that’s 6 million per month) – just because of blogging!
Reason #4 – They understand search engines
This is a biggie. For someone like me it takes a long time to rank my website in Google. Why? Well, because I am competing with a bunch of companies out there that know the value in blogging, link building, and social media. Therefore the space is very competitive.
But not for you!
I was utterly surprised about how easy it was for me to rank my client’s websites in Google. And that is because their competitors were asleep at the wheel. Are you?
Are you currently building links and creating continuously fresh content so that the search engines can give you love? Probably not, because most small businesses don’t.
Easy Living Homes increased their website traffic by 77% in just 3 months. By the end of the year they will be dominating their competition in search, because their continuous blogging means that they will address 90% of the questions asked by Googlers.
Reason #5 – Online Ads
Let’s say that your competitors don’t know much about SEO marketing, but their website looks great. There is always another option – buying online ads.
Per Per Click (PPC) is a very effective way to gain new customers, and you can gain them immediately. It is expensive, but if you do it properly, you can crush it. I don’t do PPC management myself, but I know a couple of companies that can keep your costs low and your conversions high.
For this to make financial sense, you need to sell some big ticket items. If you are in any kind of construction, legal, software development, accounting, insurance etc. then PPC is the way to go.
Your competitors are already exploring this option, but they are probably doing it wrong. Until, of course, they come across a service provider with decent credentials. They will find themselves drowning in new leads – especially if their website is great at converting visitors into prospects.
Reason #6 – Email marketing
If you are not utilizing an email list then you are going to miss out on some big revenue opportunities.
Not only is it a great way to capture leads, but it is an excellent way to re-engage your previous customers. I always send out all my blog posts to my clients. Some of them are then reminded of my expertise and recommend me to their friends.
Secondly, not every visitor is ready to get a quote or inquire about your services. By offering them some free material by joining your email list is an easy ‘pre’ step. Then you can constantly engage with them instead of losing another potential lead.
I find it astounding how many small businesses don’t have proper email lists. Even a list of just 20 people is a start and can make a world’s difference. If your competitors keep emailing their special offers or their ‘expert driven’ content you will never be able to snatch up their customers.
Reason #7 – Social media
Don’t get me wrong. I hate social media marketing. I think it is a big waste of time and money when it comes to generating sales. The only reason I would use it is to build a platform from which I can launch my content. That is an expensive and long process though.
That is why I want to draw a distinct line between social media marketing, and just using ‘social media’. Facebook and Twitter have this amazing ability to give you a platform for customer service, social proof, and Google rankings, in one.
Let me explain:
If you ask every single customer of yours to ‘like’ you on Facebook, you are also able to tell them to ask you any questions straight from the Facebook page. You, or any of your staff, can respond in a timely manner that is convenient for both parties.
Excellent! But why wouldn’t you just use email?
That is where the ‘social proof’ comes in. People need to be reassured that you are a trustworthy businesses. So by having your customer service out in the open on Facebook (or Twitter) you can use that as proof that you are indeed a great business. It also has the added benefit of driving more traffic to your site.
Since your Facebook page is public, Google will see the great activity on there and reward you for it. By having an active Facebook page a directing users to certain blog posts or FAQs on your website, you will be getting tons of ‘Social Signals’.
You don’t have to use Facebook of course, but it is the most popular. However, what is for sure that if your competition start offering better customer service AND building on the content on their website, then you are in for an uphill battle.
How you can crush your competition
I could just say ‘You need to do all those things’, but that would be stupid. As a small business owner you couldn’t possibly implement all of the 7 points I made. It takes too much time and too much money to hire someone else.
You need to make an efficient and timely decision which won’t impact your bottom line too much. The three critical steps you should take are:
- Redesigning your website to convey credibility
- Adding content in the form of blogging to position yourself as an expert
- Adding an email opt in to your website
Those are the three things that are a MUST! By just doing that, you would already be outstripping your local competition. Best of all, the only ongoing cost is blogging which isn’t expensive at all.
Easy Living Homes realized this early on and they are raking it in. They redesigned their website and now they are doing SEO. Their sales are up by more than 400% this year. Now that their sales are up, they can afford to move onto some of the other marketing channels. Growth = more growth.