When you first decide to take the plunge into business ownership, one of the first priorities on the list is to begin building your online presence.
Regardless of your industry there aren't many, if any, good reasons that your business shouldn't be visible online.
By now, you've probably already conducted thorough research and you're fully aware of the cost involved. A high functioning, professionally designed, SEO optimised website will set you back a few thousand dollars before you've even started.
And who's got that money to throw around before they establish a customer base?
It can be a vicious cycle; you can't get customers without a website, and you can't get a website without the income from your customers!
But before you throw your arms up in web-design despair; there is another way. And to find out what it is, you’ve come to the right place!
If your budget is limited but you're ready to start building you online presence yet you don’t have a clue what to do next; here are nine steps to create an effective landing page for less than $250! And you won’t require the services of an expert!
1) Register a domain name. ($10-15 a year)
If you shop around, you can register your domain name for as little as $10-$15 for 12 months. There is a broad range of hosting companies who all offer reasonable rates, and a quick Google search will give you prices, comparisons and customer reviews. Always read the reviews before you make your decision on your hosting company, there is no more honest opinion than that of a happy, or dis-satisfied customer.
2) Purchase a Website builder template. (Approximately $200 a year)
Wix, GoDaddy and Squarespace are some of the many companies who offer a basic DIY web design package. You can choose from a selection of pre-loaded templates and slot in your own images, copy, and call to action buttons to suit your product. The beauty of these templates is that you don't need any design experience to use them. Not only that, the customer service support is phenomenal for the times that you do get stuck and need a professional hand.
3) Source professional, high-quality, Images ($0)
There’s nothing worse than grainy, unclear images on a site so it’s important that you use professional downloads. It's illegal to use images in your material without the express permission of the image owner so the days of right clicking an image you found on Google and saving it to your personal file are long gone.
If you do use someone’s image without asking them, you'll put yourself at risk of a lawsuit from the owner, and you wouldn't be in good stead to win.
All images you use must be purchased from a royalty free site such as Shutterstock which can come with a hefty price tag. The good news is that there are a many royalty-free image sites out there that now provide a library of tens of thousands of images, all for FREE!
Complimentary, Gratis, Libre! All yours for zero dollars!
4) Copy ($0)
I will always recommend engaging with a copywriter for any marketing and sales copy you require, but I know that this isn't always possible. There are no rules that state that you can't create your landing page copy yourself (although always get someone to proofread it before publishing) by following a few simple tips.
· Write approximately 200-300 words of engaging copy.
While some people like to rely on images, 200-300 words is important to engage with the customer and meet SEO requirements.
· Create a compelling headline.
You only have a few words to get the user’s attention so it’s important that the headline creates urgency, is engaging and solves a problem. Yes, all at the same time!
· Make it emotive.
Tugging on the heartstrings of a reader is one of the more favoured approaches to keep a reader interested. Otherwise, identify with a problem they have and agitate them enough that they want to know what your solution is.
· Talk about the benefits to your reader, not the features of your product.
Nobody cares about the technicalities of your product; they care about how it will benefit them.
· Keep it simple – nobody likes jargon so always write your copy as if a 14-year-old will read it.
Aim your copy at a high-school student to ensure that it’s readable, simple and isn’t filled with technical jargon which nobody finds easy, or enjoyable, to read.
· Use statistics and proof.
Always back up your words with statistical data and evidence. It’s easy to say ‘I’m the best in the business’ but why are you the best? And why should anyone believe you? Data, data, data!
· Add SEO keywords and phrases to get your site found in a Google search.
Don’t stuff your keywords into your content so that it looks unnatural and forced but instead write a compelling piece of copy and go back and add in keywords which your target market is using to search for you in Google (analytics data will show you what these are).
· Add a call to action at the end.
It’s so common for someone to create a great piece of copy and then fail to tell the reader what they want them to do next! It sounds simple but trust me; if a call to action is missing – the reader will rarely go looking for it.
Add call to actions throughout your copy as well as call to action buttons as mentioned in step six.
5) Use customer testimonials ($0)
While this is more difficult in the early stages, it's not impossible. The biggest seller of your product is someone who's used it before, and loved it! If you're just starting out, you might have to work in exchange for reviews rather than money because it's critical that on your page you have the details of someone else who has used your service.
6) Add call to action buttons ($0)
One of the biggest oversights on a landing page is the business owner making the mistake of thinking that their audience knows what you want them to do. They don't!!
Don't spend all your time writing compelling copy and then lose them at the last sentence. Make the preferred action clear for your reader, whether that's to ‘Sign up', ‘Buy now', or ‘Request a quote'.
There should be two to three calls to action on your landing page, and they should all be uniform. If you give people too many options, they'll get confused and continue searching the net.
7) Add contact details ($0)
Many people think that having a contact form is enough; it isn't!
The average internet user thinks that filling in a contact form is as good as throwing their details into a big black hole, and a lot of the time they might be right!
If someone is on your site, they're ready to make enquiries and perhaps even buy your product, so it's important that you catch them while they're hot. Publish your phone number and email address in at least two locations (in addition to the contact form, that's still important), so they can pick up the phone while they’re in the moment.
8) Publish ($0)
Once your landing page is complete, and you've done thorough testing, you are ready to publish which doesn't cost you a cent!
9) Start promoting through social media ($0)
Once your website is live, the fun really starts!! To gain traction in Google searches it's important that you have regular traffic to your site and you're making frequent updates. Promote your website on your business Facebook page and all other avenues of social media where your niche is active. Implementing an effective social media strategy will help your traffic increase and will build upon your newly found online status.
And you're done! From start to finish in less than $250! You’ll need very limited technical knowledge to create your first website and it will look good too! While it might not have all the bells and whistles you’ll need as you grow; for the first 12 months this landing page will help you engage with customers and now you have a sturdy foundation on which to begin building your online presence.