Deciding whether your business needs its own website
Short answer: Yes. As 2018 approaches, let’s take a look at whether your business really needs its own website. I’ve spoken with plenty of business owners who think a Facebook page is good enough, or even some who think they don’t need a website, local listings on Google, Yelp, or anything else.
It’s simple to overlook the necessity of a website for modern businesses and the advantages a quality site can offer to them. For many business owners, certainly those whom are less tech savvy, developing and maintaining a website can be a huge hassle and a headache. Domain names. Hosting. Content. Bandwidth. SEO. So many choices but never enough answers. It’s easy to see why so many businesses lack a website, or have one that looks like it was built when the Spice Girls were still relevant.
Consumers are ever-increasingly turning to the internet to find out information, details and reviews of new services and businesses. If someone uses Google to search for the service you’re offering in your area, and your competitors’ website shows up and yours doesn’t, what are the chances that the consumer will contact you first? For many small businesses, such as a college student running a pet sitting service, a Facebook page might suffice. Perhaps the pet sitter will lose two or three potential customers by not having a website, but over the year the expense and time required to run a website might not be quite justifiable.
But if a business is to be more than a side project, more than simply a hobby, and the owner truly values their company or service, then a website can provide far more gains and advantages than can be found by simply having a Facebook page to interact with customers on. First and foremost, a well-developed and maintained website demonstrates a level of professionalism and offers assurance to the customer or client.
For many businesses, and certainly those without a high street presence, a website is their shopfront to the world. If creating a first impression is crucial, then it pays to remember that many customers’ first introduction to a company will be when visiting their website.
On the opposite end of a spectrum, a poorly-created and unmaintained website can create more harm than good. No matter how good a business may be, a cheap and problematic website can be enough to make a customer immediately search elsewhere. Grammatical errors, buttons that don’t work, outdated contact information, and other such issues can spell disaster. Quite often, business owners who opt to go for the Do-It-Yourself approach end up in this situation. Tip: Unless you’re able to create a quality website yourself, then opt to use a professional developer, or else don’t have a website at all.
Of course, a website needs to look good. It needs to work as well on a laptop or computer screen as it does on the latest iPhone or other smartphone screen. Depending on your target audience, it needs to be as appealing to a teenager on a Samsung Galaxy as it is to a Grandma using an iPad. A professional designer and developer will know how to achieve this.
But, your website needs to be much more than aesthetically pleasing. How valuable is a Ferrari with a Ford engine? It’s about more than just looks; you need substance too.
On top of displaying your basic details and contact information, your website is digital real estate space that you are able use to your advantage to engage, captivate and hook your audience and get them to choose you over your competitors.
A website can be optimized to reach the top of Google for specific search terms. It can display images, videos and texts which entertains and educates your audience. You can capture their email addresses and market your products and services to them via e-newsletters. You can study website analytics and traffic data to build up a picture of your audience.
Getting a optimal website created and managed for your business might sound tricky, but that’s what the professionals are for. Your website should pay for itself time and time again. Display the correct information and include a Frequently Asked Questions section and it’ll save you having to answer the phone just to tell a customer that you’re open that day. But more than that, it can grow your customer base, increase sales and give your business a larger profit margin.
All in all, a website is something that, even in 2018 and with a host of social media platforms to use, is still crucial for all businesses. It’s one of the most important and lucrative investments you can make for your business.