The truth is, if you’ve stumbled across our page, you probably already know the answer to that question. Yes, even your small business needs a website. Websites serve as the home for your business online. Websites are the gateway to communicate with potential customer and customers alike, online.
Around 64% of small businesses had a website in 2018. Therefore, a little over a third of small business owners are missing out on fantastic traffic they could be receiving. The thing is, it does not have to be difficult or expensive for your business to get on the web. Over a quarter of small businesses spend less than $500 a year to maintain their sites.
- Customer Expectation
- Branding and Information Control
- Ease of Updating
- Leveling the Playing Field
- Business Presence
- Social Proof
- Do I Need a Website If I Have Social Media?
- What Do I Need to Start My Small Business Website?
- Basic Setup
- Who is Your Target Client?
- Web Pages to Include
- The Work You Do
- The History of Your Business
- Contact Information
- Marketing Essentials
As the times change, so do consumer habits. The expectations of today’s customers are different than those of customers in years past. As marketing agents, sellers, and business owners, we must adapt to the ever-changing market and adapt our techniques in order to gain the most exposure and profitability.
Why is this important, you ask. Why is your business important, I ask. Put simply, you can create the best product in the world, but without customers or prospects, you have no way to sell your product.
As Zig Ziglar once said, “With no prospects, you have no business.” The objective of having an online presence is to gain high quantity, as well as, high-quality leads that convert to customers.
These customers expect to see a professionally built website.
That professional experience makes all the difference, whether it be on a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone. Over 80% of smartphone users will consult their phone before they make a purchase in store.
Customers expect a professional presence on the internet where they can access your services or, at the very least, your contact details. They are no longer satisfied with being redirected to a Facebook page since they perceive websites as the primary means of communication.
Customers want to have access to your business 24/7. They want to feel like you’re there for them. They want to feel a sense of relationship with both you and your business. Most of all, they want to feel as though they can trust you. That trust leads to sales, and your chunk of the expected 4.5 trillion dollars of online sales by 2021.
Branding and Information Control
Websites serve as a business’s home on the web. That means you, as the business owner, have absolute control over what your audience sees while they are on your site. This allows you to present your business in the best light possible, and by extension, helps customers pick you for their solutions.
As part of that control, you can keep a strict brand protocol. Many businesses prioritize brand awareness over sales in industries like manufacturing. Proper branding in every industry helps customers recognize and think of you, even when they’re not interacting with you. Branding can include a wide number of digital assets including photos, graphics on your page, podcasts and video, logos, and anything else you decide to use to promote your brand.
Audiences will judge your value based on how well you market your brand, not your products. Everything you do should help you weave your company image and branding within your website. Your logo, graphics, and other digital assets need to flow on all platforms. Think about how your logo will look on social media, blogs, etc. Keep your consistency, so that people will easily recognize your brand, no matter what channel they find it on.
In the age of ad-blockers, a website offers an alternative where pay per click advertising may not. See, ad-blockers give consumers a choice on what brands they interact with, and more marketers are recognizing this. It’s not just marketers however, businesses actually attribute a 23% rise in sales to branding as well. Businesses experience that jump when they are consistently presenting their branding across all platforms.
In traditional print advertising, there was simply no way to tell who saw what and how long they looked at it. With online marketing, not only are you able to target who you want to see your site, but you can also gauge how well your site is doing, as well as your website’s health.
Online ads can add up quickly, so for small businesses, building a high-quality website and landing page, where your already loyal customers can go to, will be key for continuing success. Building a website, put simply, is a more affordable way to start off your online presence.
With a website, there is the initial startup fee, the yearly hosting fee, and the fee for any add-ons your business uses. Those fees are predictable, and none of them are overly expensive. The website is always on, and always drawing in customers. Most websites even obtain inquiries about pricing without any added energy from you. Websites are certainly more money efficient than every traditional form of advertising.
Ease of Updating
When most people think of making a website, they think of coding. However, since websites are now 25 years old, they no longer need the owner to know anything about CSS or HTML. Instead, website companies have created their own interfaces that are able to drag, drop, and done as you create a new website.
Websites are also easy to keep updated. Logging in once a week to check for updates is all the maintenance a website usually needs. The updates are usually one button that needs clicking.
It’s also easy to update your customers. With a website, all your information is in one place, so changing one item propagates throughout the website seamlessly. There’s no need to make posts on a dozen different social media platforms announcing the change. That alone saves hours, and therefore, dollars.
We know things can sometimes get hectic. Many businesses choose to outsource their marketing efforts.
There’s a lot to say on established customer relations. It’s a boon for new people finding your business on their own. Around 90% of people searching for something have not made up their mind about the brand yet. That means your brand has a lot of opportunities.
The thing is, your company’s website must look professional to attract people. If something is wrong, you will see it in what’s called the bounce rate. Bounce rates tell you how many people left your website after only looking at one page, usually briefly. If that’s happening often, it’s time to work on your web pages, again.
Attracting and keeping website visitors is one of many steps towards meeting your sales goals. Statistically, 80% of companies who are not meeting their revenue goals have less than 10,000 website visitors a month. In contrast, 70% of companies who are making those goals reported more than 10,000 website visits a month. That’s quite the reversal.
Leveling the Playing Field
Recently the online world has done a great deal of justice for smaller companies who were never able to compete in the past. Large companies may have offices, budgets, and marketing departments. However, they do not have your brand and personality. Websites highlight those items.
Even with all the extras, large companies are subject to the same algorithms online as smaller companies. They are stuck trying to appease the same data requirements as small businesses. Fortunately, small businesses can win out by working smarter, not harder.
SEO is short for search engine optimization. Small business owners can think of it as a checklist, and a search engine like Google scores each web page against this checklist. Often, large companies must generalize their SEO. As a small business, you only need to worry about showing up locally.
In the pursuit of SEO dominance, blogging is one of the many options. Blogging is simply creating content like what you’re reading now and placing it on your website. These blogs can be anywhere from about 400 words to a small book of 10,000 words. The length needed depends on your industry and time commitments.
Blogging is great for SEO. Updated content is a common marker of good SEO. It’s much less time consuming to write a blog post than it is to rewrite one of your standard pages each week or month. As a bonus, blogging about what your business does builds authority for you as an expert. The more content in each area, the better that status looks.
Blogging also offers an opportunity to gather links. Links also play a part in SEO. Additionally, they direct people to your site from other places. For example, say you do landscaping and do a blog post on pruning topiary. Other landscapers might link to it as an example of what can be done, thus sending the people who trust the other company to your site. Some of those people will decide to buy from you simply because an expert they trust recommended you.
One thing about small business is that it takes place in the unexpected areas of life. Not every business has a physical office. Many do not have a storefront that people can just pop by. Some businesses run out of homes. Websites offer a digital place for people to visit and get to know you, rather than them walking into your store.
Having a presence online offers an established feel. It’s something that you can tell people to look up. The web address can feature on business cards and social media profiles. It’s a place where customers can gather and have the equivalent of small talk in a shop. These minute details are enough to answer the question of why I need a website.
The other notable feature for presence is when applying for business items like bank accounts. A website shows legitimacy in the eyes of institutions, and a professional website even more so. It can contribute to a favorable outcome on a loan decision for example or the offer of a content partnership with a bigger organization. Those things can explode business growth.
Social proof is items like reviews, star ratings, and testimonials. Often, displaying these items on a website allows people to find more confidence in your services. These days people trust web reviews as much or more than they do a recommendation from a friend.
There are many options for collecting social proof. There’s the tried and true review system of star ratings combined with comments, as seen on Yelp. There are written testimonials, which work well when paired with a photo. Video testimonials are becoming popular as well since you’re seeing a person giving the review.
These items can combine into one spot on your website. A testimonial page or testimonials on a specific sales page allow potential customers to connect your services in a positive light to a real person. That kind of connection builds trust. Having it all collected for potential customers beats them scouring your business’s social media pages.
Do I Need a Website If I Have Social Media?
Having a presence on social media is different from controlling your presence on social media. In reality, the social media company controls your platform. They decide if your followers see your content, or if that content collects dust. We’ve compiled a list of the best social media sites for business.
They also control how much branding you can do. Many social media platforms only let you fill in the fields they provide. If there’s something unique about your business but it doesn’t fit the fields, there’s no place to put it. If your logo is the wrong size to fit their image dimensions, that’s more time you must spend just to get a chance someone will see you.
Social media is fickle. Each platform has its own definition of consistency, and how consistency affects how many customers see a post. Those posts take time, and to have them not shown to people is tossing money into the drain. For example, after Facebook’s last algorithm update, organic reach plummeted, and people stepped away from the platform. That’s enough to discourage even the hardiest marketer.
In contrast, search engines reward consistent posting on a website. Those posts continue to turn up in search results long after the content posts. It’s especially powerful for posts focused on supplying answers to questions. People continue to search for answers, whether the questions is “do I need a website?” or “why do cats pounce?”. You can use that to your business’s advantage.
Another drawback of only employing social media as your online presence: the question of permanence. Theoretically, a social media company could disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow. What happens to all the work you put into your feed on that platform?
The answer is usually that you lose out. All those contacts you made, all the data you gave the platform, and all the time you put in, are simply, gone. Usually, there’s no way to back up the names of the people who were contemplating becoming your customers. Imagine how many people that could be and what that would mean to your business.
A website is permanent until you decide to take it down. All the data can transfer if your web hosting company goes out of business. There’s no need to worry about losing contact details for people on your mailing list. That permanence is priceless in business.
What Do I Need to Start My Small Business Website?
Many small businesses set up a simple landing page, first. Then they move on to items like a blog or a specials page.
Building a website is not an instantaneous process unless you hire a professional. Many companies build them over time and as they find they need them. For example, it doesn’t really help to set up a sales listing for a service you don’t offer yet. Instead, once those core pages are perfected, add things that make you money or increase your presence.
Websites are platforms through which a business makes money. A website just sitting there will not generate any income on its own. Instead, it will serve as a signpost for people to contact you. There’s nothing wrong with this type of website.
The next step up is allowing people to book through your website. This cuts out the need for them to contact you to get services. Many people pair this feature with the ability to pay online for the service. This step saves you time while making sure you get paid!
Then comes the affiliate links. Companies may decide to offer an affiliate link to your business. If someone clicks this link and purchases something, then your business gets a small amount of that profit back. Affiliate links may automatically generate, or you may have to contact a company for one. Ideally, you start with the products you use regularly at work and spread out from there. Affiliate links may appear in blog posts or on main pages.
After affiliates, there is the choice to take part in ads. There are ad networks you can lend space to on your website, in exchange for a fee. The fee structure varies by network, but typically it’s a percent of the profit they make from running the ads. A word of warning, while this is one of the most passive ways to monetize a website, it may slow your website down and annoy visitors.
Another possibility is to sell your own products from the website. If you don’t offer physical products, this may sound difficult. However, people are always curious about how businesses function and special tricks of the trade. You can write digital guides for these things and sell those as how-to guides. It’s also something you can build up over time.
Many businesses opt to focus on monetizing their website in one way first. This allows them to set up that method well before focusing on the next option. Over time, a website may monetize several ways to generate a solid stream of income.
Is your current website operating to its best potential?
A website needs a host and a website building platform to exist. Depending on your desired level of control and technical experience, there are two levels for website building. Both levels do still offer some support to get your business on the map.
The first possibility is to go with a service that rolls both the hosting and web platform into one service. This option means there is only one bill to pay. It also means the same company resolves any technical issues on either side of the equation. It does, however, limit some of the customization available for your website.
The other way is to do hosting and web platform separately. One of the largest website builders, WordPress, is a free platform on which about 30% of websites are built. However, it does require you to separately buy a hosting service to run it on and work with them to iron out any glitches.
Who is Your Target Client?
A target client is a profile of the person you would love to serve in your business. You may have a specific person in mind or a group of characteristics. This target client informs many marketing choices necessary for a business. It’s important to aim for a specific person because trying to talk to everyone means you reach no one.
Keep your business’s ideal client in mind when designing all web content. This content should speak to your target population. For example, targeting millennials might include more socially conscious language. The same principle carries over to imagery.
Web Pages to Include
Every website needs three primary pages. Then the business can build out further. The first page is the home, which should be inviting. A service page or store follows that because having what you’re selling up on the website drives sales. The last page is a joint about the company page and contact page. These three pages allow people to get a feel for your company.
The Work You Do
Your website sets up the presence of your business. It would be impractical not to talk about what your business does. That’s why you started your business. In fact, what you do and how deserves its own page on your website.
The page should include all the relevant details for each offering. This means the name of the service and a brief description of what the service includes. Price is trickier, as some people prefer not to list the price, so people contact them for quotes. Other services are impossible to have one discrete payment for, like roofing. If your business model has prices, and you feel comfortable listing them, put them on the web page.
The History of Your Business
Each business and owner are unique. These are your greatest strength in marketing since it makes what you offer unique. Therefore, highlighting these features on your website makes sense. This brief history can appear in an about us section, or it can be combined with the contact information page.
In general, people relate well to a story and a story relates well to branding. When writing an “about us” section, try to come up with at least 400 words. There should be a founding story, along with any major milestones in the journey. If you’re running a one or two-person company, it may also be prudent to include a few personal details. These details help people connect.
Also, in the interest of connection, including pictures is key. People like to see who they’re dealing with. If you have a half dozen pictures of yourself working within your company, then people feel better about contacting or hiring you. Pictures of you or your employees truly put a face to your business.
Having trouble maintaining your website, consider hiring a professional.
It’s exceedingly difficult for people to hire you if they can’t get in touch with you. Placing your contact information in multiple places across your website helps alleviate this problem. Many companies place their information in the footer of a website as well as on a contact us page. The footer turns up on every page of your website, while the contact us page is a logical place to look for contact information.
At the very least, contact information should include an email address and a phone number. Those two items encompass the majority of how people communicate. It is a personal decision as to whether you include a physical address. For a home-based business, it can feel like a violation of privacy. For a business with a physical office or storefront, it is a logical choice.
Marketing essentials genuinely help your brand shine through on your website. Simple things like making sure you use the same colors, fonts, and logos throughout your work increases brand recognition. That recognition turns into trust, which in turn breeds sales.
In the nitty-gritty of marketing is what’s known as a CTA (call to action). Placing a call to action on your webpage is essential to get your audience to do what you want them to. These calls direct the reader to do something since people respond best when they know what you would like them to do. These can be as simple as sign up for my email list for bonus content. They can also include liking social profiles, leaving comments, contacting you, and more. Try including them on social media too and see how your business’s interaction rate behaves.
The last marketing essential is an email list sign up. Now, this does not mean you have to go find an email management system. It simply means you need a way to collect email addresses into a list for later use. This can manually occur with a Google Sheets document if necessary.
Once someone gives you their email address, no system can take that way. It gives you the ability to contact them in a setting that they are more likely to act in. These people are more likely to be recurring customers and spend more money.
Search Engine Optimization is not just for blog posts. It also carried through all the pages on a website. By optimizing all the web pages to include images, alternative text, perfect spelling, and have a dedicated focus at the beginning, you save your business a lot of work late. SEO checklists are available across the web and only need the dedication to implement.
Whether you are just starting out, or have been in business for a while, the answer to the question, “Does My Small Business Need a Website?”, remains the same, yes. Setting up a website, even if you have the most loyal followers on social media, is a practical choice. It allows control and rewards your business with more opportunities overall. Building a website requires time and effort, yet the results are worth the work.