Welcome to Part 2 of the Online Marketing in a Small Town series. If you haven't read Part 1, Planning Your Marketing, I'd urge you to go back and read that first.
The topic of conversation for this post is YOUR website. Even if you are awesome at social media other areas of online marketing, most times your website has to be the workhorse and help you close the sale.
So What is a Website that Appeals to Small Town Buyers?
There are differences in what you should do on your site to a certain extent, but ultimately your website should be focused on achieving the goals of your websites...which likely requires you considering your target audience.
How your website looks and feels is important...don't let anyone tell you any different. A website visitor gather their first impression of you within seconds whether they are from a small town or big city. So what would the difference be? First, you want to have something that is appealing to your target audience. A very trendy website design might not go over very well as it feels "big city". This isn't always bad, however some people from a small town automatically think they will be paying a premium for your product.
In the same token, we've talked to businesses that actively seek a design that has a "small town feel". This shouldn't coincide with poorly designed. If your brick-and-mortar business looked like a junkyard, people may not think too fondly of you, small town or not (unless you are a junkyard). Your website is the same way. Accurately represent your business and instead of saying "small town feel" tell your designer what appeals to you and your target customer.
There is a place and a time for stock photos, but in a small town you may get further using real people. Even if everyone doesn't know everyone, there is a good chance that they know of many of them at least. A cheesy stock photo stands out like a sore thumb. Even if your town is really small, there's probably a photographer there. Reach out to them and have some accurate photos taken, your audience will appreciate it.
The functionality for the user should not be determined based on the size of your town, it should be based on your target audience. If adding a quote form is more user friendly and intuitive for what you sell, by all means include it. If 99% of the people are just going to call or stop by, you may be wasting your effort and money.
Accurate and up-to-date information is important for EVERY website. Just because you might have a smaller target audience, doesn't mean you should give yourself the dissatisfaction of not being able to update the content on your own. Your website should have a CMS, or content management system. It is hard to believe that nothing ever changes with your business, products, industry, etc. Don't make the mistake of having 5 year old content, update frequently!
Content should be useful regardless of where your business is located. Write your content for your visitors first. Whatever will help them or they find entertaining should be what is included on the website. SEO and sales will come later. If there are less people doing what you do in your area, content is one thing that can set you apart. Do this great and you will reap the rewards! We'll talk about the SEO aspects of your content later.
To Sum it Up
From a website perspective it shouldn't make much of a difference where you are located. We would make the same recommendations to you.
- Design something your target audience finds appealing
- Use photography that portrays your business accurately...not cheesy
- Usability is important, don't frustrate your website visitors
- Just because your market is a small town doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to update your own website; get yourself an easy to use CMS
- Write great content that your users will find useful and informative
Good luck and as always, we are here to help if you need it!
Part 3 will cover SEO for Small Town Businesses!