How to make your small business website a powerful business website


I estimate that only 20 percent of all small business websites are really flexing their muscle – and I’m being generous with that 20 percent figure.

This is even more dramatic when you consider that about half of all small businesses don’t even have a website yet. If you do the math, you’ll see that by my estimates, only 10 percent of small businesses are really using their websites properly. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that when you start doing things correctly on your website, you gain a huge advantage over the 90 percent of small business owners who are dropping the ball.

One of the functions that small business websites often fail to do is collect email addresses. Your email list is the foundation of online marketing power. Even if you don’t exactly know how you will use your email list, start collecting addresses ASAP and at least send out a very short but informative newsletter each week.

Small business website owners hit three stumbling blocks when they decide they want to start building an email list:

  • Getting the code necessary to collect email address put on the website,
  • Creating an offer to give visitors an incentive to sign up, and
  • Establishing a relationship with an email marketing service.

I’m going to focus most of this article on the second point on that list, but let me point you to a couple of other articles to help with the first item above. To jump start your list, check out the hacks in this article that don’t even rely on code. And for more information on opt-in popups and their timing, I wrote this piece not too long ago.

Finally, for WordPress sites, there are many plugins available to create opt-in boxes, etc. Adam Connell gives an excellent rundown of the 10 best in this article over on bloggingwizard.

How to create an appealing offer

The best way to encourage signups is to offer a useful and interesting free download that touches a nerve with your prospects. You start this process simply by asking yourself, “What do my customers want to know?”

Spend some time brainstorming that question and write down all your answers. After you’ve done that, take it a step further and use the Internet to actually see what questions people are asking and what they are thinking about that relate to your product or service.

Go to the question sites

Quora and Yahoo Answers are two sites where people post questions and others post answers. I logged onto Quora and entered the term “home remodeling.” If I were a local remodeler, this might be my starting point. Here are some of the questions I found:

  • How do I style my small bathroom?
  • Is remodeling a kitchen before selling a house a good decision/investment?
  • Why is home renovation important?
  • Is it safe to buy kitchen cabinets online?
  • How should you hire contractors for home remodeling?

You can look at all the questions and answers and get a feel for what people are saying and how much interest the questions sparked. You could then take what you think are the most engaging questions and turn them into a downloadable white paper or e-book to use as an offer to get people to give you their email addresses.

I did the same thing over on Yahoo Answers for the phrase “health benefits of coffee.” If you’re a local, independent coffee house, this might work for you. Here are a few of the questions I found:

  • What are the health benefits of coffee?
  • What brand of coffee has the best health benefit?
  • Can you name a few health benefits of drinking coffee in moderation?

Go to Google to find topics

Another tactic is to find what people are searching for on Google. To do this, you need to know an important keyword that relates to your business. In my example, I’m going to use “home remodeling” again. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to Google and enter your keyword.
  2. Type a space after your keyword and then the letter “a.”
  3. Capture the autofill “suggestions” Google gives you.
  4. Next enter “b” and then continue through the entire alphabet.

Whenever you do this, there will be some suggestions you can ignore and the better suggestions will probably be obvious to you. Here’s what your results will look like:


With the home remodeling topic in mind, from these search results an article like “10 tips for selecting a home remodeling architect” might be a good choice, or “Current trends in home remodeling and design.” By the time you worked your way all through the alphabet, you would certainly have some good options.

Find a freelancer to write your content

If you are inspired after your research, write the white paper or e-book yourself, but I suspect your time can be better spent in other activities. Click your way over to Upwork or one of the other freelance sites and post a job.

Lastly, when you have your offer in place, your opt-in forms capturing leads, and your email service established, count yourself among the elite 10 percent of small business websites that is really flexing its muscle.