Why Websites Are Important For Small Businesses
Recently I came across a great article focusing on the importance of small businesses having a website. Although this article was written a little more than a year ago it still contains many of the points that I mention to my new clients on a regular bases today.
All credit for this piece goes out to Anne Dorko, to view more of her work visit her website: www.annedorko.com.
Part One of The Small Business Website Guide for Business Owners
Welcome to the first episode of the new Guide series I am writing to help small business owners to learn what their website is (or should be) all about. This Guide will walk you through the correct mental approach, how to prepare before starting the business website, what to look for in a website design, and what to do during the project. We will also be setting the outlook for getting started in internet marketing.
So inhale deeply, we’re about to take the plunge!
Here is a quick overview of Part One, which covers the importance of a small business website:
- No one is using phone books anymore! Get your business online now
- Opportunity to gain more customers by opening to a new market online
- A website is cheap, flexible and cost-effective advertising (specifically using social media and local search optimization)
- Lower costs by answering FAQ and use your website as an affordable customer service management tool
- Provide what your customers are looking for in a convenient 24/7 medium and increase customer retention
- Create a better connection with your customers and raise your profits through an email marketing campaign driven by your website
- Gain higher credibility with your customers and in your industry
- Cheap market research using traffic analytics
Why are small business websites important?
That’s a great question, one that we’re going to cover right now. There are countless upsides to getting a website in pace for your business – here is a list of some of the more prominent ones:
No one is using phone books anymore! Get your business online now.
Nobody uses the phone books anymore. Get your small business online TODAY.
Unless you have a very niche target market that specifically uses phone books, chances are you will spend way too much money for way too little of a return on advertising if you go through “traditional” methods such as the newspaper or a phone book. Phone book deliveries are being cut drastically, and more and more newspapers are moving online.
Woah, did you just see that? We just established that in order to increase their income in our ever-digital world, newspapers are moving online. Exactly like you should be doing.
Did you know that all of the major search engines skew searches to show local results? This means that if someone from Los Angeles searches for “bagel shop” they are going to see results for bagel shops in Los Angeles, and if someone from New York puts in the same search they will see bagel shops around New York.
What does this mean for you? You have a fighting chance of getting seen by potential customers searching on Google or Yahoo for your product or service – you’re not competing with all the bagel shops in the world, only the bagel shops in your area (or whatever your business is). If you’re not there to be seen (in other words, if you don’t have a website) you’re missing out on something huge: more customers.
You have the opportunity to attract more customers by opening up your small business to a new market.
Cash is king. Bring in more money with a website for your small business.
The internet is your new market, and it is teaming with potential customers who want what you have to offer. If you think that a website for your small business isn’t worth your time, expenses or effort, then you’re leaving cash on the table for the business owners who know what’s good for them.
As a small business owner you well know that cash is king.
It’s like having the opportunity to open a whole new business front in prime real estate, only you don’t have to sacrifice your first born child to get it. In fact, you can get a website started for less than it costs you to fill your tank with gas and almost as quickly. If you think you don’t have the money to get this started, then ride your bike this week and save up!
A website provides affordable and flexible advertising.
Remember that prime real estate comparison? Well guess what! You get to lay out your store Gucci style, and switch it up as often as needed. You get to find out how your customers are using the layout and decide how to change it to increase your profits. You can experiment at any time to find out what format works best for you and your small business.
You can proclaim your new kingdom with free online marketing tools. One great example is by using social media, where there are customers just waiting to happen. Social media also gets your existing customers more involved. Customers who are more involved with your brand have more loyalty, and in turn will drive up the possibility of new referrals. Loyalty + Referrals = More Success.
Search engine optimization is another online marketing tactic which has many free tools for you to use. What are your customers searching for? You can target that search term and reap the benefits.
You can lower customer service costs by providing answers to frequently asked questions on your website.
Be available for your customers 24/7 without needing extra staff.
By handling your most frequently asked questions in a convenient FAQ page, you can always refer your customers (both in person and online) to this page. This can save endless hours of your time, while also addressing the needs of your customers. Time is cash.
You can take this a step further by handling other customer questions through your website. Allowing customers to contact you online provides a quick, 24/7 way for them to get in touch with their questions regardless of your current availability, and you will be able to reply on your own time.
I love flexibility, don’t you?
Increase customer engagement through an email campaign, with your website at the hub.
When you have a website, suddenly you have a home base for the messages you have to share with everyone. You can take that to the next level by branching out and allowing your customers to sign up to be on an email list on your website. They can receive updates for the latest deals, blog posts, and more!
To be sure, there’s etiquette to be learned and strategies to follow before you go launching an email campaign willy nilly, but it’s not something to be ignored just because there’s a learning curve.
Gain credibility through a well designed website.
“Design” isn’t just about the graphics. It’s about your content, your branding and the way that you structure your pages. If you take the time to plan properly, you can have an affordable yet extremely effective website running in a day. That’s the beauty of the web. It is so flexible and easy that most of your energy should be focused on planning before you make your move.
The more web-centric that the world becomes, the more a website becomes a requirement to be considered professional. I know people (such as myself) who will think twice before shopping somewhere because it has a poorly thought out website – or no website at all. With the amount of tools available to anyone these days, there’s really no excuse to go without. Do I want to spend my money somewhere that can’t even invest in a place for me to learn more about them and get my questions answered at my convenience?
You will also gain credibility with other business owners. To be able to say “You can learn more at my website” shows that you’re taking yourself seriously as a business.
Use your website to track customer behavior.
As your website grows in traffic, you’ll discover things you might never have guessed about your customers. Since you can track your website statistics (for free!), you can gain insight into their behaviors and what they really want or need. This is invaluable! You can reflect customer behavior online in your overall business strategy to maximize your sales and simultaneously make your customers happier. Win-win.