A website used to be a nice-to-have for a small business. For big businesses with big marketing budgets could hire developers to build websites for them, a website was a no-brainer. But now, a website is no longer something that only big businesses can have the luxury of having. For every business, from the largest multi-national corporations to the solo-preneuer or freelancer, a website is a critical component of the marketing mix. With that in mind, we explain why every small business needs a website.
Your Customers Expect You to Have One
How many times have you engaged with potential customer and they ask “do you have a website?” The web is where both consumers and other businesses go to look for information about products and services. Before they make a commitment to buy your products or engage your services, they want to spend time getting to know both you and your business. That is where your website comes into play. Explain to them, what do you do? What do you sell? Anything special that prompted you to get into business? How is your business different and better than the competition? And importantly, how can they contact you?
Your Customers Use Search
Search is such a powerful tool in the shopping process. We hear from some business owners that they get much of their business from referral. But what happens next is something they often do not realize. What happens if a potential customer searches for your business and you do not have a website? They may have been referred to you, but if they search for your business and you do not have a website, they may give up and follow up on the referral that does have a website.
93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
– Search Engine Journal
A Website is a Sign of Credibility
A business that has gone through the time, effort and expense to build and maintain a website has greater credibility among potential customers. It may seem like a big investment, but it really is not when you take into consideration all the heavy lifting a website does. In addition to conveying that you are willing into invest in communicating to potential customers, it provides a place for you to display testimonials. Testimonials from your best customers helps to further establish trust among new customers.
Your doors may only be open during business hours, but your website is open 24/7/365. It is working for you while you sleep, on weekends, holidays and while you are on vacation. (Though us small business owners rarely get vacations, right?) The point is that your website can sell your products or services even during times in which you are not able. This was brought to light even more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You Own Your Website
Unlike social media platforms, you own your website. You are not at the whim of artificial intelligence bots accidentally flagging your content and shutting you down. This has happened to numerous small business social pages that rely on social media to sell their products. Their social accounts were banned and it was frustrating if not impossible for the business owners to resolve the issues. That is time wasted and business lost. But with your own website, you are in control of your sales channel.
No Reliance on Social Platforms
Outages at large social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram should be of concern to any small business owner. Those that rely on social media as their only source of promotion or sales have had to contend with global outages that can impact sales. While we strongly advocate for using social media as one element of the overall marketing effort, we do not recommend relying on it as the sole means of sales and marketing.
Also read: Social Media Tips for Small Business
A Website Is a Marketing Platform
By having a website, you have a marketing platform or hub for all other efforts:
- You have the ability to collect information that allows you to market your business through email marketing. While many say that email is dead, it is solidly not. Provide those on your email list with valuable information, and email becomes a means for you to present yourself as a subject matter expert, provide tips and advice, connect with the community and more.
- The email addresses are also a means for targeting a new crop of potential customers on social media. Using those email addresses, you can create audiences in Facebook ads that have characteristics similar to your current list of customers. So with email, you get the benefit of reaching existing customers to turn them into repeat customers, using email to convert non customers into customers and you can broaden your marketing efforts to those that may be inclined to buy your products or services.
92% of business owners believe having their website contributes effectively to their digital marketing strategy.
– Iron Paper
Control Over Presentation of Products or Services
As mentioned earlier, your website is your platform. You own the content and along with your web designer, decide how it looks. Your website can be designed in your brand voice with your brand identity. The website is designed based on the message you want to communicate about you, your brand and your business. Do you want your website to be bold and colorful? Dark and moody? Or maybe light and airy? What about muted or minimalist? The possibilities are literally endless.
You are in control of how the information on your website is displayed. If you are in a very visual business like photography or catering, you will want show a gallery of beautiful images of your previous work. If you are in a more technical field, you can highlight your qualifications and how your services stand out above the competition. Video can be embedded to walk potential clients through past projects.
Show Customers How to Find You
Every website needs contact information which we underscore in Elements for Effective Small Business Website Design. Do not let your users leave your website without making sure they can reach you either by providing your address, phone number or contact form. Do you have a physical location? If so, you can embed a map of your location right on your website. That allows user to find you easily without having to leave your website to pull up Google Maps.
We work with small businesses that need help with building a new website or updating an existing website. Does your website have out-dated design, slow loading time, or lack of modern website features? We can help! We do website design and development, WordPress Care Plans, and as-needed support with our HelpMe! service.
In addition to the resources in this blog, we have a number of free resources. First is our free WordPress website audit. It is a $299 value that we offer small business owners for FREE! Next, we provide a free no obligation consultation. Schedule a time directly on our calendar. We look forward to assisting you!