Small businesses can be hesitant to embrace a website (or a website update) for a number of reasons. The upfront cost, ongoing management and prior success without a website all keep small business owners from investing in the benefits of a new website. However, there are many, many reasons a good website is a necessity for businesses of all sizes.
Why You Need a Website
In 2016, 87% of internet users turned to a search engine to find information about local products and 73% used a company’s website. These were the two most-used methods (among other options like family, social media and newspapers) for research. We can only assume that in the last two plus years, these figures have grown!
Having a website that appears in search results makes you a solution to searchers’ problems. You’re immediately added to a potential customer’s list of possible solutions, whether they need somewhere to grab a quick lunch, a cleaning service or a new doctor. A good website, one that clearly answers a searcher’s questions no matter whether they’re searching from their desk or a mobile device, moves you toward the top of the list.
The Benefits of a Website for Your Business
The most important benefit of your website is that it is a space you own. You purchase your domain name and build exactly what you want to on it. On your website, there are no negative reviews, no “suggested changes,” no one suspending your profile for an unknown reason, and no other businesses selling similar wares to yours (like on Etsy or Amazon). You choose what information and products to feature in a way you think will resonate with your customers.
A professional website that uses up-to-date best practices makes your business look professional and credible online. You’ll impress people looking for businesses like yours online. You’ll also appeal to potential customers who were recommended to your business by family or friends. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing methods and a well-designed, helpful website helps you capitalize on that power. Social media is no longer enough. Changing algorithms mean even the people who follow your company’s account or page may not see the information you share. Your website will always be there for customers looking for information – because you own it.
Your website is a place to share what makes your brand and products or services unique. There’s an unlimited amount of space to talk about how your business started, why you love what you do, and what goes into your products. You couldn’t possibly put all of this information in your store or a social media post. People who visit your store or contact you will already be more informed about your business.
All of your contact information is front and center on your website. No matter how you want people to get ahold of you, you can put it on your website. Your phone number, location, customer support email and a general contact form can be added to every page if you want them to be. This makes it easy for customers to share their questions and concerns, as well as visit your physical shop.
Your brick-and-mortar location has a set schedule that may not fit all of your potential customers’ needs. Your website, which can house a virtual store, is always open. Clients can browse, purchase and contact you at any time using your website.
Putting your business online with a professional, updated website gives you a wider geographic impact than a physical location alone. While some local business owners may argue they don’t need to connect with out-of-towners, imagine you own a restaurant in a small city. When a tourist begins to plan their trip to your town, they Google dinner options. It’s entirely possible they have each and every meal of their trip planned before setting foot in your neighborhood. What did they use to make their decisions? Search engines, blogs, social media and restaurants’ websites.
A website can add some administrative tasks to a business owner’s to-do list. However, there are many features within a website that save time on a daily basis. A new website helps your business run more efficiently with online sales, reservations, staff scheduling, contact forms and FAQs.
Your business’s website serves as a hub to which you direct traffic from social media posts and ads, review sites, online phone books and search engine results, whether organic or paid. You can tailor the pages on your website to match the content that encouraged visitors to click in the first place. These “landing pages” connect with potential customers in a personalized way. Landing pages are also a good place to collect contact information for your email marketing or sales team too!