The short answer is yes, yes you do need a website for your business. You can read the long answer for why you need a website for your business below.
It Makes Your Business Seem More Legitimate
In a recent survey, almost 85% of respondents said that a business that has its own website apart from a social media presence on Facebook or elsewhere seems more credible than one that only uses a common platform. A well-constructed website today is the public face of a business, a combination of what business cards, letterhead, physical offices or premises, and business dress used to be for businesses in times past. And with the present COVID19 social distancing, more business is being conducted online than ever before.
Sure, a big insurance company may build a high-rise tower downtown to flex, but an attractive and well-run website is like a valuable piece of online real estate. You’ll also have the equivalent of an online address, and your own email accounts, in the format of [email protected] (or .us or whatever). That lends a sense of solidity to your enterprise.
And as Facebook and the other social media platforms become more crowded, the effectiveness of local advertising on those platforms has been decreasing. The search engines aren’t nearly as useful as those, like Google, that people perform general web searches with, and as they have succumbed to promoting businesses more and more, people have become more dismissive of advertisements in those places, if not outright hostile.
People Can Find You through Web Searches
More and more commerce is conducted online. Small businesses used to pay for prominent ads in the Yellow Pages or in newspapers or flyers of various kinds. Or they might have shelled out for billboards or radio ads or silly commercials on local TV, particularly late at night when the costs weren’t prohibitive. But nowadays, most people conduct their own online searches, whether on a computer or a smartphone, and increasingly those searches are conducted by voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google’s Home and Amazon Alexa.
With a little bit of CEO effort, and some guidance, you can get your business in front of eyeballs looking for your goods and services. This used to be a matter of gaming keyword searches, but as web engines become more sophisticated, it’s increasingly about quality content.
According to the Local Search Association, 63% of customers primarily use a businesses website to find and engage with them. And according to the same source, 30% of potential customers won’t even consider a particular business if it doesn’t have its own site.
You Can Differentiate Yourself from Your Competitors
You can project the image of your business in the way you want to attract the clientele that you want. By setting yourself apart from other businesses in your area, whether that area is geographical or in terms of goods and services, you can more effectively reach the people who need and want what you have to offer. Your efforts are targeted, rather than the old methods of shotgun broadcasting, such as sticking leaflets behind all the windshield wipers in the strip mall parking lot.
The look and feel of your website say almost as much about you as the content. A well-organized and appealing website is evidence of your competency and your care for your customer, just as a tidy, well-laid out brick and mortar store is. And a pleasing landing page is as good as a friendly, competent receptionist at directing your visitors to the information and contacts that they want.
Sites that provide good layout with good imagery and useful information that is kept updated and current give prospective customers much of what they need to know in order to purchase goods and services up front, and cuts down wasted time for both them and businesses, since when they make contact they are already somewhat informed.
Do you have policies or warranties or support that is superior to that of your rivals? Put it right out there for people to see.
You Can Keep Your Customers Updated About Any Changes or Promotions
Are you bringing a new product line on board? Are you clearing out old merchandise? Are you changing your hours or adding delivery options? Customers can opt in to email that will keep them informed about those kinds of changes.
Want to run a special or offer a discount or publicize an event? Certainly the most effective way to let your customers know is through targeted email.
You Can Streamline Customer Service
It may be that you take a wearisome number of repetitive questions about certain things. For example, about your delivery area. A good Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, with the link prominently displayed on the landing page, can help cut down on those. A contact form can help you respond to customer inquiries even outside of business hours, and a chat option can get people visiting your website real-time help without even having to call.
You Can Post Your Testimonials
Whether you grab them from Yelp! or Trustpilot or Google Maps, customer testimonials are one of the best ways to demonstrate the quality of your goods and services and how you stand behind them. You can link to good reviews in local papers and websites as well. Word of mouth is still out there, and it will always be important, but strong testimonials via customer reviews and other sources count a lot to people who like to do their online homework before buying.
It’s Really Gotten Pretty Easy–And Kind of Indispensable
You don’t have to know how to program HTML these days. Modern-day software makes it pretty easy to maintain a website. And it’s easier still if you have experts like the people at SunAnt build your site for you. You can run it yourself, or you can have them help you out with everything from template to layout to content, with regularly scheduled updates, so you can just go about the business of doing what you do.
It’s not really a question anymore of whether you can afford to have your own website. It’s a question of whether you can afford not to have it. A good website is about the most cost-effective way you can grow your business. As we move into a post-COVID business landscape, there will be a lot of shaking up, and those who have the best web presence will be in the strongest position to benefit.