Today you can have a website for pretty much anything—from sports pages to trivial things such as hobbies and fan clubs for zebras. But for some reason, an estimated 40% of small businesses have been reluctant to get online. Why is this?
In surveys, many business owners say they don’t have the skills, the time, or the money to build a website. But a surprising number say that they don’t need a website in the first place, either because it’s not required or because they use social media instead.
These ideas are changing quickly though, especially as corona virus makes in-person business more difficult. If your business was locked down during the pandemic then you probably know that you could have carried on some form of business if you had a website. The pandemic still may not be fully over and there maybe other obstacles that impede your business in the future. As a result, according to one survey, 29% of small businesses plan to use a website for the first time in 2020. Are you among them?
If you’re a small business owner who is thinking about starting down the digital road, we have put together some specific reasons why you should. In future blog posts we will explore further the relationship between your website and the other components that make your digital presence.
Customers now expect businesses to have websites
Now more than ever, customers want to be able to find information about you and your products from your company website. Most consumers do research online before they make a purchase, even if it’s to buy something from their local shop. If you don’t have a website, it sends a message that your business is stuck in the Dark Ages, that you’re not open anymore, or that you’re not interested in finding new customers. Another way to look at it is this; a person who is 22 years old, has only known the internet as the main source of communication and socialization. This is where he will expect to shop as well.
You can control information and branding
User reviews and comments on other websites are great, but shouldn’t you have the final say about how your company is presented to the public? Having a website for your company instantly creates an official presence on the internet, so that you don’t have to depend on others speaking for you. And you can make it look exactly the way you want, with your own logo and company branding.
A website makes you look more reputable and trustworthy
Consumers are learning to be pretty savvy when they research online. In fact, 75% will judge your credibility based on your website design. That’s why it’s so important to have a modern, up-to-date website with a custom domain and other indicators of trustworthiness. A website also shows that you are open for business during a time when there is a lot of uncertainty.
You can sell products online
Online sales were on the rise even before COVID-19 kept everyone stuck at home. And these trends are expected to continue after businesses reopen to customers. So even if you don’t think of yourself as an “ecommerce” business, you can still use an online store to benefit your offline business. It can help supplement your income when you’re closed in-person, and also attract new customers who will now be able to find your services and products via Google and other search engines.
A website is more affordable than traditional advertising
Many small businesses who don’t have a website still rely on Yellow Page ads or traditional advertising to get their name out there. But is purchasing an ad in ever-shrinking and increasingly expensive directory the best use of funds, especially if you’re trying to cut business costs? Websites cost much less than they have in the past and give you a wider reach than regular advertising.
A website is easier to keep up to date
If you tried starting a website years ago, you might have some bad memories from the experience. Today’s websites are easier to maintain. We also encourage you to get involved with the process as you should have some basic knowledge of how websites work
You can find new local customers near you
A website isn’t just for finding customers across the globe—it’s an essential tool for attracting local customers too. Almost half (46%) of all Google searches are people looking for something right near them. That’s especially true of mobile phone users who might be looking for a store, restaurant, or other service while they’re on-the-go. If you don’t have a website, you’re missing out on an opportunity to catch those visitors when they’re right in your neighborhood.
Does my business need a website if I’m on social media?
Maybe you already have a Facebook page and some pretty good reviews on social media. Lots of business owners assume that a social media profile for their business is enough.
But there are some problems with this strategy. First, you’ll always be dependent on the social media platform you choose. Algorithms change, rules change, and what’s working one day might not work a few weeks from now (as many businesses who depended on Facebook have recently learned).
If you have a website, it belongs to you, and you control the content and the message. Part of the reason you started your own business is so that you don’t have to follow other people’s rules, so why would you just do what a social media platform tells you to?
More importantly, the result of advertising on social media or using other forms of digital marketing is to attract people to your website. If you don’t have a website then you are missing the fundamental basis of your digital business
Trends change, too. If your customers are on Instagram today, they might be on a new platform tomorrow. As people switch from one tool to the next, your website acts as an anchor. No matter what social media service customers prefer, they can always find your website in the same place, available to everyone.
Conclusion: every business needs a website
The case for having a website in today’s world is very strong. Almost all the businesses surveyed said they planned to have a website by the end of the year. Are you part of this group?