For many of us, it’s now hard to imagine an age before the Internet, particularly when it comes to modern business. However, according to a study by market research firm Clutch, almost half of all small business owners in the US still didn’t have websites of their own in 2016. While running a business is certainly no easy task, given the ever-growing checklist of things to do, building up an online presence is no longer optional if you want to stay competitive in the future. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at a breakdown of the key reasons why you need a website:
1. It Acts as Your Digital Marketing Hub
Since most consumers now search for businesses online, they are far more likely to first hear about your organisation digitally. The virtual world is where your customers are no doubt spending most of their time when it comes to looking for products, services and local businesses, so it stands to reason that you need to be visible online. A website acts as the central hub for almost any digital marketing strategy in that it gives you something else to promote while helping you to establish a strong presence both in social media and in the search engines.
2. It Allows You to Sell Online
Selling products and services online isn’t solely the realm of ecommerce businesses. In fact, many local businesses can expand significantly by opening an online store to complement their high-street location and, best of all, it hardly costs much to do so. Even venues such as restaurants can sell online by providing a home delivery service or allowing people to pre-order, for example. Not only does a website provide you a centralised location for promoting a bricks-and-mortar venue; it also allows you to expand beyond your physical borders and reach out to audiences far and wide.
3. It Increases Visibility for Local Businesses
Local businesses traditionally rely on walk-ins or listings in local magazines and other publications, but times have changed enormously. Today, most adults are armed with Internet-enabled smartphones that they take everywhere with them, and it’s much easier and more convenient for them to find local businesses using the tools provided by their smartphones while they’re out in the move. At the very least, your business should be listed on all of the major online directories, such as Google Business, but having a website can greatly reinforce your online visibility.
4. It Helps You Build Credibility
In the minds of many of today’s consumers, a business that doesn’t have a website is a dinosaur, and a lazy one at that. Not having an online presence can take away a lot from your credibility to the extent that it can really give people the wrong impression. All it does is show that you’re out of date and not serious about providing your customers and potential customers with what they want. A professionally designed website, reinforced by quality, value-adding content, helps enormously to build trust and credibility.
5. It Saves You Time and Money
As a small business owner, you might think that having a professionally designed website is prohibitively expensive. However, it’s many times more likely that you cannot afford not to have a website. Fortunately, it generally doesn’t cost a fortune to have a small-business website built for you, and monthly hosting and domain registrations are fairly negligible. A website also saves you money on marketing, not least because it allows you to advertise your business around the clock, every day of the year.
6. It’s What Your Competitors Are Doing
There’s a good chance that most, if not all, of your competitors already have some kind of online presence. Most likely, your strongest competitors will also be the ones with the strongest online presence, particularly when it comes to having a quality, professionally designed website. Even if your competitors have yet to embrace the potential of the Internet, you’ll have a huge advantage over them by getting there first. Ultimately, having an online presence is crucial for protecting your brand and making sure that your business is among the first people learn about when they’re searching online.
7. It Improves Customer Relations
Today’s consumers typically spend an enormous amount of time online but, if they’re unable to find your business, there’s a good chance they’ll never know that you exist. However, even if they know you exist, they’ll likely start looking elsewhere if they can’t find a website with the information they want. Take a restaurant business for example, where a potential diner might want to check the menu or reserve a table online before they visit. If they can’t find a website, then there’s a good chance they’ll give up quickly and look elsewhere, and they won’t have to look too hard either.
8. It Helps You Learn about Your Customers
One of the key advantages of digital marketing, establishing a website included, is that it generates a wealth of data that you can use to determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. A great deal of online marketing is also social in nature, which means you’ll also have ample opportunity to review and respond to feedback, since the Internet is now where most consumers are sharing their opinions. By having a website of your own, it gives you a platform upon which to speak while also being able to find out more about your customers by things like visitor data collected, on-site blog comments, polls and direct feedback.
No matter how many customers your company already has, you always need more to keep your business growing healthily in the highly competitive environment around you. Having a website is by far the biggest and most important step in establishing a digital presence and, without one, you’ll surely be left behind in the years to come.