Even today, with technology at our fingertips, there are still many business owners who believe that a website is a luxury and not a necessity. They are convinced that word of mouth is sufficient to get more business and that if they have been successful for many years without a website, they can survive without one. Some also think that being active on social media or managing their Google Business Listing is a great substitute for a website. After all, it's free and it seems to get the job done. I don't share that opinion.
The 2018 "Shopper-First Retailing" report which examined the digital shopping behavior of 500 million shoppers revealed that 87% of consumers begin their shopping journey with digital, a jump from 71% in 2017. Are you not part of that group of people who picks up their phone first to find a product you need, compare prices and all available options? Do you not use Google to find a service provider or store near you? I do. And according to this recent study, it seems I am not the only one. So if you can't be found online, you risk losing out to your competitors and missing out on opportunities to grow your business.
Still not convinced about the importance of a website? Read on for a few more compelling reasons why your business needs a professional website now more than ever:
1. Your Customers Expect It
It is no secret that more and more people will look online for products they want, solutions they need, to compare prices and reviews, or simply to find information about a store, restaurant, or any other business before they make a purchase decision. In fact, a professional, well-designed website will not only provide potential customers the information they are searching for, but it will also boost your credibility as a legitimate business.
According to a recent survey conducted by Weebly, 56 percent of consumers said they do not trust a business without a website and 30 percent will dismiss a business from consideration automatically if they don’t have a website. Let's face it: we live in a digital age in which Americans spend on average 23.6 hours online per week and are on their mobile devices for up to five hours per day. By now, consumers expect companies to have a credible online presence that includes a website.
2. It is Cost Effective
Yes, you read correctly: a website can truly be cost effective. If you want to promote your business, look at how much you would spend on traditional means of advertising, such as magazine ads, radio or television commercials, billboards, brochures and other printed materials, and even networking events, and then consider the potential market you can reach with a website. True, a website requires an upfront investment and you may have to pay for a few updates down the road, however it remains a very cost effective way to promote your business. And if you have a limited marketing budget, which in reality all of us do, don't you want the biggest bang for your buck? A website will give you a better return on investment than any other form of advertising.
Perhaps you believe that your business is too small and that you simply don't have the budget for a website. That's nonsense. In today's digital age, your website is your number one marketing asset. When I hear business owners say that they don't have the budget for a website, I remind them that saying that is the same thing as saying they don't have the money to pay for their business license. You can't operate as a business if you don't commit to making that initial investment. Just do it: get a website! It doesn't have to cost you a fortune and feature all the bells and whistles, but it needs to exist. Over time the relatively low investment will pay off by driving new customers to your business. Plus, it's a legitimate business expense that is tax deductible!
3. It Saves Valuable Time
A well-designed website should include basic information such as who you are, what you do or offer, how to contact you, and perhaps answers to common questions and inquiries as well as your hours of operation and your location, if applicable. Your website should provide all the information your regular and prospective customers need and that information will be available to them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This will save you a lot time responding to emails and taking unnecessary phone calls. This also means you'll have more time to focus on doing more valuable things.
Let's not forget we now live in a world where people expect immediate gratification, which means website visitors want answers to their questions within a few questions of landing on your website. By making your information available online, you are saving them time too (and satisfying their need for an immediate answer)!
In our fast-paced world, time has become an increasingly important commodity. If you still create flyers, brochures and other printed materials, keep in mind that all these promotional items take time to design and create. You need to communicate with your graphic designer or agency, the printer, and distribute these marketing materials! With a website, there is no physical distribution required. Once it's live, the information is instantaneously available to customers. It's quick and easy! Plus, you'll save time on updates! A website can be updated at any time, and it's much quicker than updating a print brochure or catalogue would be. Printed materials become outdated rather quickly, but your website provides current information and can be used to announce new products/services, upcoming events or special promotions in a matter of minutes. And if you notice a mistake on your website, you can fix it immediately. No need to reprint hundreds of brochures. You'll save yourself lots of time and money, and maybe a headache too!
4. Your Competitors Are One Giant Step Ahead of You
The competition is keeping ahead of you because they already have a website! According to a recent survey, 64 percent of small businesses had a website in 2018. This means that the majority of small businesses DO have an online presence and chances are competitors in your area are already appealing to potential customers. A website is a great tool that can help you stand out in the crowd and if you don't have one, you are missing out on opportunities for customers to find you and spend money with you.
Nowadays consumers strongly rely on search engines to find your business. If you don't believe me, here are some numbers for you: there are 3.5 billion searches on Google every day and 46 percent of all Google searches are linked to something local. I assure you that someone is currently searching online for your exact product or service in your area. But guess what? You won't get their business. Because you don't have a website. You can't be found as easily as your competitor or perhaps you can't be found at all.
Now, if those numbers don't scare you, maybe these will:
97 percent of people learn more about a local company via the Internet;
72 percent of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within five miles of their current location;
And 48 percent of shoppers said they left a particular website and purchased from a competitor due to a disappointing online experience.
Not only is it crucial that your business be discoverable online, but your website needs to look professional and polished, it needs to function well and be easy to navigate, feature compelling images and quality content, while offering a personalized experience that sets you apart from the competition. The bottom line is this: if you don't have a website, potential customers will go to your competitors who do. But a bad website is perhaps worse than no website at all. If you want to stay competitive and relevant in your field, have your website professionally designed.
If you, as a business owner, are still not convinced of the importance of having your own website, if you think that it isn't worth the investment or that you simply can't afford it, let me tell you this: in today's digital world you can't afford NOT to have a website.
Get in touch with me. I'd be happy to answer any questions and/or address your concerns.