We’ve officially entered the Golden Age of the Internet, where Google is king and Amazon is queen, yet there are still many businesses that don’t have websites set up. Maybe the owners think they’re too small, just them and one or two employees, or perhaps their good or service isn’t really something that can be sold online.
While both may seem like valid points, the fact is that having a website for your business is an absolute essential, no matter what you’re selling or what service you provide. Not all people use the Internet simply for shopping. It’s also an invaluable research tool.
So why do you need a website?
Open all day, every day
The best reason for having a site is the accessibility it provides. Even when your store is closed and your employees have gone home, your customers still have a way of finding out about you on their own time.
Remember that not everyone is on the same sleep schedule as you. Many people work nights or work from home. They might not pass your store or maybe they don’t watch local TV or read the paper where you’re placing your ads. Your best bet at reaching those customers is online through a Google search. If your business has a page, they can take down a phone number or send an email to a contact address.
By simply having a presence online, your chances of being found by new customers increases indefinitely, much more than it would if you were to hand out a stack of business cards.
Make a positive first impression
Consumers have gotten savvier and more determined to find a good service and a knockout deal. Rather than visiting store after store or calling one service and then another, people are taking to the Internet to find out all they can on a business, good or service.
Chances are many of your customers will first learn about your business from visiting your site, which then becomes your first opportunity to make a lasting, positive impression. A site that looks clean and is easy to navigate makes a big difference with consumers while a confusing one will drive them away.
Even if you’re not selling your good or service online, a webpage will direct readers looking to contact you, which then leads us to..
Showcase yourself and your message
Whether you’re an artist or you manufacture a good, you have a message. Maybe you love painting landscapes or you’re dedicated to creating environmentally-friendly products. Whatever you do or represent, a webpage is a great way to show off your talents and products for your customers to see.
Artists or manufacturers should always be posting pictures of their work to show off to potential customers. Even if you do not want to sell online (although you should), you have to entice customers enough to come to your shop to check out your products. An image gallery will show off your unique talents and demonstrate the benefits of your business.
Even if your business provides a service, such a plumbing or carpet cleaning, highlight what your service does best and the employees who make it happen. Post pictures of a bathroom in disarray and then an image of the same bathroom after you’ve completed your work or of a carpet before and after it is cleaned. Visual examples let your customers know what they’re getting and how effective your work is.
Of course, you might have too many employees to give each one a page or a blurb, but you can incorporate them into photographs and show them in action. If you offer an at-home service, some customers might like to see exactly who they will be inviting into their home. Pictures help ease their worries.
The days of the phone book have long since passed and the browser is increasingly losing its users. Not all customers are sitting at home searching for a business on their laptops. Many are on the go, searching for a product or service on their phone or tablet, and if they can’t find you, then they’ll go to the person they can find: your competitor.
A responsive design site allows users to quickly pull up your information and get in contact with you wherever they are. These sites are designed to adjust to any screen size, whether it’s a browser, tablet or phone. Consumers won’t miss out on your important information.
Opportunity for lead generation and feedback
The goal of any advertising campaign is, at its core, to generate leads that will turn into customers. A webpage can help you get the right kinds of leads that will better help you connect with interested customers, rather than to just a large group of people.
Many businesses like to ask for webpage visitors to sign up for their newsletters or fill out a quick form in order to access certain content, such as an eBook or blog, on their site. Those who are interested in your product or service will go the extra mile for your content and sign up, which means you now have a handful of great leads who need only a bit more convincing.
On an added note, your forms can also be a good way of judging how well your marketing efforts are working. By including questions such as ‘How did you hear about us?’ and giving several options, customers can tell you how they found you. If enough people give one answer, such as ‘search engine results,’ then you can better focus your marketing efforts in that direction.
Before the Internet, most people combed through the yellow pages when they needed to call a car mechanic or find a pet groomer. If you weren’t listed, then you probably weren’t credible. The Internet has taken this a step further. It’s no longer enough to be listed in Google search results. You need a webpage to prove that you’re a credible business.
Simply having a site gives you instant credibility with customers who are searching for your services online.
Remember, these are savvy shopper who won’t necessarily go with the first company that pops up. Most shoppers will visit the company’s webpage first to check out what the company is, what it offers and how much it will cost. It gives them a sense of the company without ever setting one foot inside the actual shop.
Without these benefits of having a website, you deprive your potential customers of the opportunity to get to know you and your company a little better. The searching customer will probably go with your competitor, who does have a webpage, because he or she feels that the other company is more trustworthy.
Don’t let (not having) a website hold you back.