I am one of those people that loves to research before I buy, particularly if it’s something that is high-priced. Thanks to the wonderful WWW, I can waste many hours in this particular hobby. 😉
I’ve discovered that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to services and their web presence. There are three things that will guarantee that I will contact someone about a service or product. The absence of one or more decreases the possibility of me even making the first contact.
- Have a website — I need to be able to find that you exist, what services or products you provide, and if necessary, if you’re local.
- Exist! The hardest part is actually finding quality places to shop or get services. Google Local sucks. Sorry, but they do. I find myself turning to yellowpages.ca more and more, but that’s for another post. At least in yp.ca a place can advertise if they have a website or not. For non-local items, I still tend to want to find someone local, or at least in Canada. (Not such a problem for the US.)
- Information. I don’t want a crappy website with no content. That does nothing for me. What do you DO? What products/services do you have? How are they delivered? And nine times out of ten, I check the about page. Seriously.
- Where are you? I always look, even if it’s not important to the research. Being in Canada is a bonus. Being in Ontaro is a super bonus. Being local is a warm-fuzzy. The same rule would apply if I were in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
- Have a nice website. Not some Frontpage crap design. And not one of those horrible graphic-laden templates. A nice, simple website that is very user friendly. This means you know what your customers need and want, and you’ve thought about how to help them in more than just your area of expertise.
- Respond via email. If you have a contact form, or advertise an email address, or any type of e-conversation at all, for the love of God, respond. If I contact someone, and they don’t email or call me back, what’s the use? And if they respond right away, or in a reasonable amount of time (less than 24 hours!), I’m 50% sold already.
Having one of these is good. Having all is the best.
There are exceptions. I’m looking for a local snow-removal service and a house-sitter for while I’m away during the Christmas holidays. For that, I turn to Kijiji.ca. The same principles almost apply: Have an ad. Have a nice ad. Respond via email. Although the latter becomes much more important. The presentation is almost equally important. And well, you have to have an ad. 🙂
I hope I practice what I preach in my own business (Picobits) . 🙂 (Yes, that was a completely shameless plug.)
What’s important to you when you’re researching something online?