Having an online presence is crucial for any small business today. But simply having a website is no longer enough – you need one that truly engages customers, builds trust, and helps you achieve your business goals.
As a small business owner in Kenya, what features should your website have to give you an edge? Here are the essentials to focus on.
In Kenya, digital adoption has been rising steadily. As of January 2023, internet penetration reached 28.76% of the population, with over 23 million Kenyans now online. Mobile penetration is extremely high, with over 66 million mobile subscriptions in the country. This translates to a mobile penetration rate of 130.5 percent. Social media users stand at 10.5 million, equating to 19.3 percent of the total population. The adoption of mobile money is also widespread, with 67 percent using it to purchase airtime and data.
But you need the right website to capitalize on this connected audience. An outdated or poorly designed site can turn customers away and hurt your brand image. On the other hand, having the right features can set you apart, turning your website into an invaluable business tool.
So what should you look for in a high-performing small business website? Here are the must-have features and functionalities to focus on
Clear Value Proposition
Your website needs to convey what makes your business unique and valuable within the first few seconds of visitors landing on your home page. This is your value proposition – your promise of value to customers.
Some effective ways to communicate your value prop include:
- A tagline or slogan
- A short paragraph or “elevator pitch” summary
- Icons showing your key differentiators
- Reviews, testimonials, or awards you’ve won
Whatever you choose, be specific about the outcomes and transformation you provide customers. Avoid vague or generic claims.
Your website’s design encompasses both aesthetics and functionality. On aesthetics, conveying your brand personality through color schemes, fonts, and images is important. But design goes deeper than that.
Your site also needs to be highly optimized for usability and conversion. Some key elements of good design include:
- Clean layout – Content and menus should be neatly organized and easy to find. Avoid clutter.
- Mobile responsiveness – With increasing mobile usage, your site must adapt seamlessly on smartphones.
- Fast load times – Lagging sites lead to high bounce rates. Optimize pages for speed.
- Prominent calls-to-action – Buttons and links should stand out to guide visitors to convert.
- Accessibility – Your site should be usable for visitors with disabilities.
Optimizing these aspects makes it easy and engaging for visitors to find information and convert.
SEO is a crucial feature for reaching target customers online. Your website needs to employ proven SEO best practices from the start, such as:
- Keyword optimization – Research relevant keywords and optimize pages around them.
- Quality content – Unique, useful content helps search ranking and entices visitors.
- Metadata – Properly formatted titles, descriptions and alt text improve SEO.
- Mobile optimization – As Google favors mobile-friendly sites in rankings, responsive design is a must.
- Page speed – Faster sites tend to outrank slower ones.
- Link building – Getting quality backlinks from other sites gives a boost in rankings.
With competition rising, building SEO into your website from day one gives you the best chance of ranking well.
Well-planned content is vital for attracting and engaging visitors. Think through the buyer’s journey and map out the information customers need at each stage.
Some proven types of content to include are:
- Blog posts
- Ebooks and guides
- Case studies
Mix up formats like text, images, audio, and video. And focus on addressing pain points and meeting needs at each stage from awareness to consideration to decision.
Calls-to-action (CTAs) prompt visitors to move forward to the next step, guiding them towards conversion. Strategically placed CTAs are one of the most important features on any small business site.
Some best practices for CTAs include:
- Place buttons in prime locations like headers, footers, sidebars, and throughout content.
- Use contrasting colors that stand out.
- Keep button copy short and action-focused.
- Tailor CTAs to different stages e.g. “Start Free Trial”, “View Pricing”, “Book Now”.
Test different placements, copy, and designs to maximize your CTA click-through rate.
Lead Capture Forms
Collecting lead information upfront is crucial for driving conversions and sales. This means incorporating lead gen forms in strategic locations.
For example, offer an opt-in gate on gated content, place a contact form in sidebars and footers, or use exit-intent popups. Make sure forms are short, personalized, and mobile-responsive.
Integrating with marketing automation software or CRM will help you capture and nurture leads efficiently.
Understanding your website traffic and engagement is imperative for optimization and growth. Consider installing analytics software like Google Analytics to unlock visitor insights.
Key metrics to monitor include:
- Traffic volume
- Bounce rate
- Page views
- Conversion rate
- Acquisition channels
Dig into this data frequently to identify opportunities and underperforming areas.
Social Media Integration
Incorporating social media is a powerful tactic for increasing traffic and brand awareness. Make sure to display social media buttons/links prominently.
You can also automatically display social feeds to showcase engagement and reviews. Just be sure they load quickly.
Incorporating share buttons and integrating with social tools like Facebook Pixel can further optimize your efforts.
User Accounts and Login
Allowing customers to create user accounts on your site provides benefits like enabling repeat purchases, personalized recommendations, and access to saved information.
Some best practices for user accounts include:
- Make signing up quick and easy with minimal fields.
- Allow login via social media to speed up the process.
- Send confirmation emails and activation links to validate accounts.
- Allow users to easily reset passwords if forgotten.
- Save customer information like shipping addresses for faster checkout.
Overall, incorporate clear paths for creating accounts and logging in/out to tap into the power of registered users.
An internal site search is a must-have, allowing visitors to easily find what they need. Optimizing search helps boost engagement and conversions.
Some tips include:
- Place a search bar prominently at the top of every page.
- Offer suggested results and corrections for misspellings.
- Continuously refine and expand synonyms and relevant keywords.
- Highlight key pages like category and product archives in results.
Ideally, aim to answer customer questions or anticipate needs with effective search.
Email Marketing Integration
Email marketing enables you to re-engage visitors with announcements, offers, and relevant content. Integrating signup forms, popups, and contact information capture throughout your site makes building your list easier.
You can also integrate with email services like Mailchimp to send drip campaigns and personalized messages based on site behavior.
Focus on providing value through email to turn subscribers into loyal customers.
Real-time chat features allow you to immediately address visitor questions and needs. This provides a big boost to customer experience and conversions.
Options like ChatGPT, WhatsApp, Drift, or Facebook Messenger can be integrated seamlessly. Make sure chat bots or live reps are knowledgeable to actually resolve issues.
According to SuperOffice, over 80% of customers prefer chat support over other channels. Take advantage by incorporating it prominently.
Small businesses can benefit immensely from marketing and sales automation tools. These allow you to streamline workflows, reduce workload, and scale up lead generation and conversions.
Solutions to research include:
- Email marketing automation like GetResponse
- Live chatbots for 24/7 support
- Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot
- CRM systems like Zoho to manage contacts
- Form builders like Typeform or Wufoo
Look for integrations between tools to create complete automated pipelines. This takes your small business capabilities to the next level.
Optimized Checkout Process
A seamless, well-designed checkout process is critical for ecommerce sites to minimize cart abandonment. Key features to include:
- Guest checkout – Don’t require account creation if not desired
- Progress bar – Display checkout steps clearly
- Mobile optimization – Easy checkout on any device
- Payment options – Offer preferred local payment methods
- Trust seals – Display security badges to relieve concerns
- Cart editing – Allow changing items, quantities before purchase
Test and refine your checkout repeatedly to improve conversion rates.
This covers the essential features and functionalities that can help any small business website connect with customers and grow your brand effectively.
By crafting your website with value proposition, design, SEO, content, calls to action, lead capture, analytics, and social media in mind, you’ll be well on your way to success.
Now over to you – what’s worked for making your small business website more effective and valuable? I’d love to hear what features have delivered results. Just leave a comment below.