After years of working with small business owners, we’ve heard every excuse under the sun for why any given company doesn’t need to have a website. “But my industry isn’t technical,” we hear as one common refrain. Another excuse, “I just don’t have time to build a website right now,” comes from business owners who haven’t kept up with just how simple website construction can be these days.
Using tools like Homestead’s SiteBuilder, you can have a new website up and running within an hour, for a very affordable fee. So whatever your excuse may be for not having a website, it’s time to give it up! The following are just a few of the reasons your small business needs a web presence built ASAP:
Customers pre-qualify the businesses they’ll work with in the future by checking their websites
According to research conducted by marketing agency Hubspot, as many as 78% of internet users conduct product research online before pursuing a transaction. This encompasses both users who are looking for places to buy products online and those who are conducting research on local businesses that they’ll eventually go on to buy from.
To see this effect in action, think about how you pre-qualify the businesses you’ll work with in your own life. If you’re looking for a new auto repair mechanic, you probably won’t just drive around your neighborhood and drop your car off at the first shop you find. Instead, you’ll take the time to read reviews and check websites online, using the information found throughout this process to determine where you’ll eventually spend your hard-earned dollars.
As a result, if your business isn’t online, you’re missing out on a crucial part of this product and business research process – simply being found by your customers in the first place!
Not having a website risks losing business to your web-savvy competitors
However, you aren’t just at a disadvantage if your website isn’t available for this initial consumer research period. Your chances of coming out on top of a future customer’s decision-making process become even slimmer if your competitors are more active online than you are!
Smart businesses recognize that having a website is a non-negotiable part of their marketing and branding initiatives. Even companies that sell sub-par products or services are aware that many of their deficiencies can be overcome through the deployment of a professional-looking website (when it comes to courting new customers, that is). We all judge books by their covers – so if your customers can’t even find your “book” (or website, in this case), you’re starting off from a much more negative brand perception than your web-savvy competitors.
If you don’t have a website and your competitors do, you’re losing out on business – plain and simple. Take an hour or so today to set up your first business website in order to avoid missing out on even more potential sales in the future.
People are already talking about you online – with a website, you control the conversation!
Another interesting thing to consider when it comes to the power of business websites is that, even if you haven’t yet taken the time to set up any kind of web presence, your customers are doing it for you!
Whether or not you have a website, your customers can leave reviews about your business on sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook and Twitter. And believe me; they’re doing this – even if you aren’t aware that the process is occurring.
Now, truth be told, simply having a website won’t prevent your company from receiving negative brand mentions online. However, when you have a website of your own, you at least have a voice in the conversation. With a website, you can respond to reviews, introduce product feature improvements designed to remedy past negative reviews and showcase your product or service’s better features – but you can only do this if you have a site of your own.
Having a website makes you discoverable through GPS, review sites, social sites and more
Of course, getting “found” online doesn’t just happen through Google and the other search engines. Increasingly large numbers of people rely on external sources of information – including everything from their GPS units to review sites, social sites and more – to discover new businesses in their area.
But what you, as a business owner, need to recognize is that many of these new services pull company information from the websites of businesses in any given area. Many of the business discovery systems listed above rely on their ability to read local websites and gather pertinent company details – which is why having your own site can play a major role in helping your business to be found by potential customers.
If you don’t yet have a business website, take the time to create one that prominently features pertinent business information (including your telephone number, your address and your business hours) to improve your odds of being featured on one of these services. And if you do already have a website, make sure this information is easily accessible to both website visitors and the indexing programs that pull company details for business discovery systems.
Website sales can add a significant revenue stream to your bottom line
One final website-owning advantage to consider is that your new site can also add a potential new revenue stream to your company’s finances. These days, setting up a functional ecommerce system on your site is as simple as clicking a few buttons, adding inventory to your digital shelves and collecting the money you’ve earned. There’s no more hand-coding your shopping cart or manually processing every transaction that occurs on your site – especially if you take advantage of pre-built ecommerce systems like Homestead’s.
Even if your business doesn’t ever plan to make the leap to physical product sales online, simple ecommerce systems can be used to sell gift cards and other digital download products – adding a new stream of income without significantly increasing your overhead and/or management time.
By now, it should be clear that your small business website needs a website. Whether you’re most concerned about the ability of future customers to consider you in their product research, about controlling the conversation that exists online surrounding your brand or about the potential revenue a business website can generate, the bottom line is the same. Building a website for your company offers a number of different business advantages and has never been easier to do. Get started today to see for yourself!