Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Professional Website
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Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs a WebsiteI originally wrote this article, 8 Reasons Why Your Business NEEDS a Professional Website, on my old website back in 2008, but felt it was in need of an update when I put this website together in 2017. Since 2009, there has been a drastic shift towards social media. Also, many entrepreneurs who understand the need for having a website are doing it themselves with freebie web hosting that comes with free drag and drop page builders.
However, there are still a lot of small business owners who do not believe they need a professional website or even a website at all. They’ve either been in business so long without one they think word of mouth is all they need or they believe they can get all their customers or clients on Facebook or other social media channels. Not true!
Tell Customer Who and Where You Are
Having an active website is important even for small, local businesses. According to a study done by Nielsen, 85 percent of consumers use the internet to find a local business. Without a business web design, these customers may not even be able to contact or locate the business. Search engines such as Google are heavily focusing on local results, so a website is even more important if you are a local business.
Reach All Corners of the World
A professional business web design gives you an instant global presence and allows your business to capture customers from around the world. This has the potential to greatly increase your customer base. If you can service customers nationally or globally, a website that reflects that is a must for prospects that are researching your business.
With the help of the internet, consumers can now literally shop online around-the-clock. The only way businesses can reach all of their potential customers is to have a good business web design that will allow them to shop or research the company any hour of the day. In an example such as ours, we usually receive 1 to 2 leads overnight while we are all sleeping. That would not be possible without a website.
Once a business has its website, it gives them the ability to communicate with their customers instantly. Upcoming sales and new products can be instantly advertised on the business website. This can eliminate the need to send out costly mailings and flyers. Another important factor is content and the integration of social media. As you generate content that may help a prospect, you can use social media to instantly propagate that content across thousands of potential customers.
A business website can cost very little maintain. When compared to other advertising techniques, it is fairly inexpensive. Considering the power of a business website, the return-on-investment is higher than other advertising channels in most cases. A website should be a sales tool, explaining products and services and generating leads from that information. If you compare this to a salary of a person and the cost of sales collateral, it is a fraction of he cost.
Attract New Customers
One of the top reasons for a professional web design is the potential to attract new customers. As consumers surf the internet, they will have access to the businesses products, services or information, where otherwise they may not have even known the business existed. You may find prospects in multiple stages of the sales process, meaning you may find researchers, comparers or purchasers. Make sure to have an offer for all of them.
Improved Customer Service
Usually a business web design will include a contact us section that gives your customers instant access to ask a question, or notify you about a problem with your goods or services. This gives you the ability to provide instant feedback to the customer and improve your customer service satisfaction rate. There are many creative ways you can improve a customers experience including a simple contact form so they may contact you with questions, a blog or forum they can leave questions in or even a live chat for immediate satisfaction. There are many live chat programs that are simple to install.
Know Your Customers
Businesses will have the ability to track who is viewing its site and who is making purchases. The data collected can provide valuable information to the business that will allow them to better target their current and potential customers. Tracking software is becoming very intelligent. At minimum, install Google Analytics which is completely free.
Today’s consumers like their shopping experience to be quick and easy, which is why more and more consumers are turning to online shopping. Maintaining a business website will offer a more convenient way to shop for your customers. When is the last time you’ve ordered something by mail? Most reading this post might not even remember the mail order era, it was painful. Today, commerce and information is immediate.
Once a business website is initially set up, it requires very little maintenance to maintain on a day-to-day basis. This makes it an easy way to advertise without taking too much time away from the daily operations of the business. This doesn’t mean you can neglect your website, a content strategy should be in place so that you are providing regular and consistent updates to your website so it doesn’t become stale.
It is easy to see why it is so important for every company to have a business website. Without a website, it will be difficult to remain competitive in today’s market and generate more customers. Business websites are also easy to setup and maintain. If you don’t have a website, leave us a comment and tell us how you are doing business.
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Having a small business website isn’t just about selling your goods and services — it’s also about providing something of value to potential customers.
With so many low priced online services, there’s really no excuse to keep putting it off.
Still not sure how having a website will help you grow your business?
Here are ten reasons every business needs a website:
1. Your customers expect it.
If this were the only reason on the list, it would be enough. Six out of ten consumers expect brands to provide online content about their business on some form of digital property, and more than half head straight to the brand’s website for product information.
If you don’t have a business website, today’s digital-savvy (and impatient) customers may look elsewhere. Take a look at this list of specifics that customers say they want from a business website.
2. It provides social proof.
Ninety percent of consumers claim that online reviews influence their buying decisions.
You could rely on FourSquare, Yelp, and other review sites to host reviews for your brand, but you can kill two birds with one stone on your own website.
Since potential buyers are already looking for you online, including customer testimonials on your site is a great way to impress potential buyers.
3. You control the narrative.
It’s true that you cannot control what others say about you on social media channels, but you can influence public perception by creating your own story via a business website.
A company blog helps business owners get their message, mission, and personality in front of their target audience faster than print ads or snail mail brochures.
Plus, social icons linking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other networking platforms make sharing your content easier for your visitors who like what they see.
4. More bang for your buck.
When you use a free website-building tool, like WordPress.com, you position your company to reach thousands more potential customers for less than you would spend mailing ten brochures by traditional mail.
5. You don’t need extensive coding or technical skills.
Because WordPress — and a number of other website-building platforms — offer online tutorials and community-based support, almost anyone can get a basic website up and running in about thirty minutes.
6. Your competitors all have company websites.
Consumers typically start their buying journey with research and recommendations from peers and social network connections.
Studies show that once a consumer has an idea of what they need or want, they start researching, and 72 percent of them go online to find educational material, reviews, and testimonials, according to a recent report.
So if you’re not staying competitive with your competition, you’re giving shoppers a reason to buy from another brand.
7. Never put up the ‘closed for business’ sign again.
Nobody wants to work at 3 a.m., but some people like to shop then. Having a business website or ecommerce store means that you can sell products all the time — not simply between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
An online store can mean a dramatic boost in sales, especially when you factor in additional customers who are not restricted by geography. Your online presence also supports marketing campaigns, customer service, client relationship building, brand recognition, and almost every other element of the revenue stream.
Combining your website with marketing tools, like email marketing, helps you reach new customers and generate repeat business.
8. You’ll show up in Google search results.
Consider this: 81 percent of consumers perform online research before making a purchase. That means they go to Google and type in one or more keywords, like “best leather shoes” or, if they know what they want, “handcrafted Italian leather women’s shoes in Los Angeles.”
If you don’t have a website for your business, the chances of showing up on the search engine results page (SERP) are zero. But if you have a site, you can optimize it for search engines, thereby increasing your chances of appearing at the top of Google’s results and getting more visibility with potential customers.
Long-tail keywords, meta descriptions, and titles are just some of the things you can customize on your site to improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
9. Create a resource center for your staff.
In addition to helping customers, your business website can also benefit your own employees.
Create an orphan page (one that is not visible anywhere on the site so it can’t be found unless someone is given the direct link) with self-service videos, instructional materials, or even internal forms to help your team learn everything they need to know on their own schedules.
10. Showcase your products and services.
Not only can you display your products or outline your services in detail with beautiful images, but you can provide short video tutorials or downloadable PDF instructions to give hesitant customers no reason to go elsewhere to purchase.
Here are 9 compelling reasons why your business NEEDS a professional website
Note: If you’ve already read my original article, and can’t be bothered to see what’s new for points 1-8, you may wish to scoot down to number 9 which is brand new.
1. YOUR BUSINESS WILL GAIN CREDIBILITY
More and more people are searching online for things they want, for solutions to their problems, to compare prices, or just to get some information about a store, restaurant or business before they purchase from them. If you don’t have a website, potential customers will go to your competitors who do, especially if you are a home-based business without a bricks-and-mortar address.
Having a website will not only provide the information they are looking for, but it will give your business credibility. It says, I am here, I mean business, and I am in it for the long haul.
You may be thinking, I have a “freebie” website that I built myself, why should I pay for someone to do it for me? There are several reasons why I don’t recommend “freebie” D.I.Y. websites, which I address elsewhere, but even a “freebie” website is better than no website at all. However, if you are somewhat tech savvy and have the time to build your own website, I strongly recommend you at least use WordPress with a professional theme and that you pay for web hosting with a reputable web host.
If you do have a D.I.Y. freebie website, ask yourself, is it providing you with the professional image you desire for your brand? There’s nothing less professional online than a website that says “Hey, look, I used a free website builder!” Your business will gain so much more credibility by having a professional website designer help you design and build your website.
With careful planning, designed responsively and with your customers’ needs in mind, your website will provide a professional image and give potential customers a great experience when they visit, whether it’s on their computer, their tablet or their mobile phone.
2. IT SAVES YOU MONEY IN THE LONG TERM
As a small business owner, especially one that is just starting out, you’re probably thinking you can’t afford a professional website. But you really can’t afford NOT to. Although the cost of designing a website varies depending on your needs and your skill level, once it’s up and running, a professional website is worth the initial investment, especially if built using WordPress, which enables you to add and change your own content regularly, saving you money in updates.
Compared with the cost of traditional means of advertising, such as newspaper ads, radio commercials, promotional materials and even networking events that often include the cost of a meal or trade tables, when you consider the potential market you can reach with a website, it is a very cost effective way to promote your business long term.
Even if your skill levels are slim to none and you need to continually pay your website designer/developer to maintain and update your website for you, the upkeep costs are still lower than ongoing traditional marketing, and the investment is certainly worth the number of potential customers that will find your business online each year.
When it comes to comparing the cost of a professional website with a freebie D.I.Y. website, unless you are fairly skilled, your website will cost you in time and effort that could be better spent elsewhere in your business. Not only that, but if it’s not professional, or can’t be found in a Google search, you will lose customers and that will also cost you dearly.
Saving money is definitely a great reason why your business needs a professional website, but there are several more reasons.
3. CUSTOMERS CAN BE KEPT INFORMED
In its most basic form, think of a website as being an online brochure or catalogue that can be updated at any time. It is much easier and quicker to update information about your products and services on your website than it is in a print brochure or catalogue.
A website is an effective way of introducing your customers to new services, letting them know about new products, announcing upcoming events and special promotions. You can also provide added value by posting tips, resources and other information through a blog on your website. Unlike print ads, newspaper articles and flyers, which quickly become outdated, your website can provide current information and news. And if you discover a mistake after you publish a page or post, it is a quick fix.
A website can be so much more than just an online brochure or catalogue though. Now we have YouTube videos, Podcasts, Webinars, eBooks and other online media to showcase our skills, expertise and products, provide online classes, courses and workshops. Not to mention social media integration which enables you to share information on your website across numerous other channels and reach an even wider audience.
4. A WEBSITE IS ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE
Unlike you bricks-and-mortar location, which is only open a few hours a day, a website is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can provide both regular and prospective customers the convenience of reviewing your products and services when your store or office is closed.
Not only that, with so many interactive features and add-ons available, visitors to your website can contact you, sign up for your courses, schedule appointments and even purchase directly through your website even when when you’re away from your desk or after closing .
With today’s busy lifestyles, this is a great selling point when making a purchase decision.
5. A WEBSITE ENABLES YOU TO TARGET A WIDER AUDIENCE
Websites are accessible from anywhere in the world provided there is an internet connection. Since more and more people have access to the internet, even in remote locations, you can target a much wider audience if your business has a website.
Whether you offer products or services, or you’re business or consumer based, your website provides you with an alternative location to sell. As a retailer, an eCommerce website is a great place to sell your products to a wider market. Think of all the people who can’t get to your bricks and mortar store that you could sell your products to.
Even service-based businesses can offer their services globally through a website. Now that we have so many affordable ways to communicate with people, we can do business with anyone, anywhere, any time. A website makes it so much easier to attract clients from a global market.
6. IT PROVIDES A MEDIUM TO SHOWCASE YOUR WORK
No matter what type of business you’re in, a website is a great place to showcase your work or demonstrate your skills. By including a portfolio, image gallery or videos, as well as testimonials about your work, you can demonstrate what makes your company or you unique.
Back when I first wrote my original article, there was no Pinterest or Instagram. Now 9 years later, a lot of people are using these social media channels to showcase their work. But is your target audience on Pinterest or Instagram?
On Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and other social media channels, the quality of your photos or graphics is compromised and the size may be substantially reduced. Not only that but Facebook and other social media channels control how people interact with them and even WHO can see them.
If you have a website, your portfolio can be viewed by everyone anywhere and you are in control of what people see, the quality and size of your photos, and how people interact with those photos.
Not only that, but did you know, in most cases, once you post your work on these social media channels you no longer own the rights to those photos and they could be being sold to use in those sponsored ads you see throughout your timeline?
7. A WEBSITE SAVES YOU TIME
I touched on this point in number 2. Time is money, so they are often linked together. Saving time is another great reason why your business needs a professional website.
Time is an important commodity in our ever increasing fast paced world even if you don’t attach a monetary value to it. Most people these days don’t have enough time for leisure, pleasure, family or healthy activities. Having a professionally designed website saves you time both in the short and long term.
By providing information to your customers online, you can save a vast amount of valuable time that you would otherwise spend communicating to your prospects.
Talking to customers on the phone, in messenger or emails, face-to-face at meetings, networking events or trade shows, it all takes time. Creating flyers, brochures and other promotional material takes time – time to plan, research, communicate to your designer, printer and so on. Not to mention the time needed to distribute your marketing material.
With a website, you can save time by providing information about your products and services in various online formats—graphics, video, ebooks, flip books— or as text right on the page—no distribution required. Once your website is up and running, it is available to your customers indefinitely, saving you time having to communicate the same message over and over again to different people.
8. A WEBSITE CAN IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE
A website is a great way to provide value added service to your customers and clients, and is a great way to keep them coming back to your when they need your products or services.
No matter what products you sell, you can share tips to your customers on how to use or care for the products they’ve purchased from you. If it’s compression garments, you can provide tips on how to wear their garments. If you sell beverages, such as tea or coffee, you can provide brewing times and temperatures.
If you offer a service, such as accounting, you can provide your clients valuable advice to help them pay less tax at tax time or how to simplify their bookkeeping. Or if you’re in insurance, you could give advice on how to choose the right insurance policy for theirs or their family’s needs.
By including a FAQ page or a resources section, you can regularly add articles or upload newsletters to answer all your customers’ questions you can keep them better informed and up-to-date.
9. YOU OWN AND CONTROL YOUR WEBSITE
Even if you have a big social media presence, another reason, and probably the most important reason why your business needs a professional website, is so that you actually own or at least pay rent for your online space.
There are lots of free or low-cost ways to gain a web presence or claim your online space, but in most cases you don’t own your online home, office or store and, even worse, you have little to no control over all that’s contained in your online space. With a professional website, you do.
Social media is a great way to bring traffic to your website and it’s a great way to share content from your website. However, relying solely on social media to attract customers or clients is not only preventing several prospects from doing business with you, but you do not own your your stuff and you cannot control what happens with it. The stuff you’ve uploaded to your favourite social media channel could disappear at any moment without prior warning when they pull the plug for what ever reason and you could lose it all forever.
The same is true for a freebie website. When you decide it’s time to move on, you can’t always take your website content with you (at least not easily) and you will most likely need to start from scratch.
With a professional website, one that is self-hosted, granted you are renting space for your web address, but you own everything contained within your online space. If ever you want or feel the need to move to a different web-host, you can take everything with you (provided you have backups and/or do so before your account expires).
I’ve always maintained the importance of having a web presence that you own, and this is definitely a valid point to consider when determining whether your business needs a professional website or not.
If you’re still not convinced why your business needs a professional website, check out this article on Forbes.com or get in touch with me. I’d be happy to help you with any concerns.
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