A website is necessary if you want to compete in today’s business environment. It gets you to the starting line. Without it, you don’t even get to be in the race.
Without it, you don’t exist.
But another problem with websites is a lot of people tend to focus on fluff — the pretty things. Instead of focusing on the core functionality and the must-haves, they focus on shiny things.
That’s why in this article, I’ll list down the essential functionalities of a website. This post is not an SEO article. Rather, it’s focused on the needs of your business.
4 Essential Elements of a Business Website
1. Information About You or Your Business
The first quality a business website needs is basic information about you and your business. It’s important that you communicate your unique value proposition so that your visitors will:
- Understand what you offer
- Differentiate you from your competitors
- Find a reason to trust you (and eventually do business with you)
Your website should also contain the most basic information about the business like the following:
- Your name (especially if it’s different from the “brand” and domain you are using)
- Contact information
It’s also recommended that you include details about key people (or everyone) in your organization. This is one of the trends in modern websites that makes the business more human.
2. Ability to Generate Leads
As a business, you need leads. Otherwise, you will not have anyone to sell to (customers). And if you don’t have customers who are willing to pay for what you offer, you’ll eventually go out of business.
There are two common ways businesses generate leads from their websites:
- Contact Us Page
- Newsletter Subscription
Both have variations of forms that allow visitors to enter their information. This information then goes to whomever is in-charge (usually marketing or sales). Ideally, it should go directly to a CRM or an email marketing software.
The second lead generation source most websites have is a newsletter subscription form. For example, my own website a form like this on every article — which you’d also notice at the side if you’re reading this from a computer.
Bottom line: you need to have the ability to generate leads in your website.
Social fans and followers aren’t leads
In another article, I listed three criteria for what makes up a lead:
Together, these criteria will help you determine what really matters. Take a look at Facebook Page likes or Twitter followers.
While they may be available and valid, they are not reachable. Meaning, you can’t contact them in a proper way. That’s why you keep hearing that these numbers are vanity metrics. They don’t add value to your business.
More offers equal more leads
One concept I’d like to highlight is that the more landing pages you have on your website, the more leads you can generate.
The contact us page is an example of a landing page. At its essence, a landing page is a page on your site that allows you to generate leads. In other words, it’s a page on your website with a form that visitors can fill-out.
According to a survey of more than 7,000 businesses, companies see a 55% increase in leads when their landing pages increase from 10 to 15. The same report also found that those with over 40 landing pages increase conversions by 500%.
Ask yourself this question, how many landing pages does your website have?
One contact us form? One newsletter subscription form?
Here’s another interesting statistic to consider: the conversion rates for landing pages is between 1-3%.
If you only have one contact us page as your landing page, how many visits to that page do you need to generate 50 leads?
The answer is 1,667 visits at a 3% conversion. Or 5,000 visits at 1% conversion rate.
How many visits does your contact us page get on a monthly basis? Is it even that close?
The solution is to create more marketing offers.
3. Analytics and Performance Tracking
The next key capability of your business website is performance tracking. After all, if you don’t measure what you do, you can’t improve.
It’s already 2020 and I still see websites without tracking installed.
Google Analytics is one of the most well-known analytics software for your website. I’ve written a couple of articles about it already, so I won’t repeat it here again. If your website still doesn’t have Google Analytics, here’s how you can install Google Analytics properly.
Oh, and did I mention it’s also free? All you need is a Google account (Gmail).
Another key component your website needs is the ability to communicate or send messages to your leads. Technically, this isn’t part of the website itself. Rather, it’s often another system like an email marketing software.
Nonetheless, it is vital that you have the ability to communicate to your leads and customers. Without it, it’s as if you are a business without humans.
One thing to note, though, is that your communication has to be helpful.
And no, your sales and promos and discounts aren’t helpful. They may be helpful for you to increase your revenues, but not for the recipient.
Lastly, if you send those types of email, please, don’t call them newsletters. I’ve written a lot about email marketing. So, familiarize yourself with the three pillars of effective email marketing first.
Then, start sending out these 12 different types of email instead of your promos.
5. Revenue Generation (Bonus)
This is a bonus criterion.
Because not all businesses “sell” online. But if you do, having the ability to generate revenues is definitely something you need to have.
There are tons of ways you can add this functionality. The simplest one is to add a PayPal buy now button, or use some other provider like Stripe.
If you sell products, you’d more likely have a complete eCommerce website where you can add products, set prices, different SKUs, manage inventory and order fulfilment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Over to You
Like I said at the beginning, this article isn’t meant for SEO. This shows the basic requirements any business should have on their website.
If you’re more advanced in this area, you might notice I didn’t talk about chatbots, or videos, or social media. That’s intentional. Because most often, people tend to focus on those shiny, new things instead of the fundamentals.
Your website is the most basic requirement for any business today. Without it, it’s as if you don’t exist.
If you’re missing some key capabilities listed here, go talk to your IT guy, or outsourced provider, or shop around. It’s essential that you have all these if you want to compete in the same arena as your competitors.
What do you think? Did I miss any must-have functionality of websites? Let me know in the comments below.