An article in Inc magazine quoted a study that found that more than half of all small businesses do not have a website – wow, that’s a scary statistic.
Unless you don’t care about growing your business, or providing better customer service, then I suppose you don’t need one. But who falls into that category? And building an effective website is not that expensive, so there’s just no excuse.
A website for a small business is the foundation for ALL of its marketing. But here are five reasons why you as a small business absolutely need a website:
Reason #1: It’s the foundation of all your marketing efforts.
The majority of consumers start their search for a product or service online. Without a website they will never find you. I can assure you nobody is using the Yellow pages. If you do any traditional marketing and you have a website many of these potential customers will then visit it. Of all the traditional marketing you do, including:
- Networking (handing out business cards)
- Direct mail (postcards, marriage mail, RSVP cards, Money Mailer, Red Plum, etc.)
- Print media (newspapers, magazines)
- Trade shows
- Local Chambers
- Charity Events
Many of the people from these sources will go to your website to find out more about you. Without a website many potential customers will never be able to find out anything about your business. Most importantly, however, with a website you can capture these customers into what we call remarketing lists and continue to market to them for up to a year. I’ve written several posts on my blog about the effectiveness of using remarketing. And remarketing is very important when you consider that only 10-15% of your customers will convert to leads on the first visit to your site – without it you don’t have much of a chance to close the sale. Anecdotally – my wife and I used to own a retail store in the early 2000’s, it was a relatively small operation in San Diego selling unique medium to high-end furniture and home decor. We built a website that actually ranked across all three search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo for dozens of queries and before long we went from being a small local business to shipping product nationwide, which never would have been possible had we not had a website.
Reason #2: Customer Service.
Customers can get many of their questions answered without calling you. You can have pages with FAQ’s, directions to your location, recommendations, and testimonials. Plus if you have
forms on your site customers can just submit their questions which enables youto answer when you have available time.
Reason #3: Customer Acquisition Cost Is Lower.
The cost to acquire customers is a fraction of the cost versus traditional marketing tactics. Acquiring customers from online marketing costs is 1/10th that of what it costs via traditional marketing (I know this because I’ve tracked all forms of traditional marketing and advertising tactics along with digital tactics).
Reason #4: Integrated Marketing Works Better.
Integrating your marketing across traditional and digital works far more effectively than if you only do one or the other. Customers are not linear in their purchasing – in other words, they don’t just see your ad online or through traditional marketing efforts and become a customer. The majority of customers need several points of influence before purchasing – perhaps they see an ad online, then go to your Yelp page, or perhaps they got a postcard and visited your website, then went to social media, and then talked to friends before purchasing or calling you.
Reason #5: Competition
Your competitors already have a website and you will flat out not be anywhere near as competitive and will undoubtedly be at a clear disadvantage. So there you have it – 5 very important reason why small business need a website.
What do you think the best way for a small business to build their first website?
If you know what you want in terms of website and need to find a developer to implement you can go to a site like Upwork to find developers that can build your site.
However, if you don’t know what you want in terms of a website, you need to find someone that can help build the strategy first. One of the worst pitfalls you can fall into is building a website from the inside out – in other words from your perspective and what you’re all about versus starting the website process from your customers’ needs. It’s a subtle shift, but important. As Jeff Bezos has said, we’re not here to sell books, we’re here to help people buy books.
Any good strategy starts with the customer. Who are they? what are their needs? What are they trying to accomplish and how can you help with that? that’s the starting point. And from there you develop a website strategy.
You need to find an agency that understands that.
Hope this helps.
Start with outlining the conversation you want to have with your customers. Literally write out what your message is, why people should care, why they should choose you, what makes you different, and what problem your offering solves for customers. Don’t start out with worrying about what kinds of pages you need or what content needs to go on what page, just get the message figured out first – write it out on a piece of paper or a word document. Talk about your product or service and how it differentiates from the competition. Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, see it from their perspective. What are they looking for when they decide to spend their valuable free time coming to your site. If you don’t know, talk to your target audience and find out. Regardless how you build the site, whether you use a drag and drop website building service like Squarespace or Wix, or go with a WordPress theme, or hire someone to design it from scratch for you, you will be best served started out by ironing out your message and content first. Content should drive the website design, not the other way around.
Good points – thanks for the comments! Especially valuable point about seeing things from the customers’ perspectives…nobody wants to land on a site and listen to you talk about yourself, but instead how you can help them.