Most customers turn to the web when looking for a local business. Without a website, your company could lose credibility and lose sales.
You may wonder why your small business needs a website, particularly if your business deals with only local customers. After all, it does cost money to build one, and you want to make sure you use your limited marketing dollars the best way possible.
There are more than two billion people around the world who use the internet and approximately 70% of them get on the web every single day. That number continues to grow. With that many people online, it only makes sense that having an online presence is an excellent way to reach out to some of those consumers. Your small business needs a website for a number of reasons.
Most customers start a business search online, so if you don’t have a website you may not seem as credible or you may miss out on people who no longer use the yellow pages to find a business. When you compare the cost of a basic website to the cost of advertising in phone books or on local media outlets, a website is a cost-effective form of advertising. But even more than being cost effective, you have the potential to reach new customers you may not have thought of advertising to.
- Testimonials & Reviews
About 90% of consumers indicate they check online reviews before deciding to buy. Having a website allows you to add testimonials and link up to positive reviews of your business. This can influence whether a customer ultimately decides to do business with you or with a competitor. Having a website also allows you to slightly control what information comes up first in search engines, as long as you practice strong SEO tactics.
- Gathering Analytics
The beauty of the internet is that you can gather a lot of info about the habits of your customers. By using Google Analytics, website owners can find out everything from the age range of a typical site visitor to where the person lives. This type of information is powerful and will allow you to refine your online presence so you reach out to your exact target audience. You will even tell what time of day people are visiting your site and target your marketing to that time frame.
- Keeping Up with Competitors
Does your competitor have a website? They may seem more credible than you if they do. If they do not yet have a website, then get a leg up by being the first to put one in place. Remember that people use the internet to search for business information in the same way they used to use printed phone books. They will turn to the internet first the majority of the time, and you’ll be ready and open for business online.
- Data Collection & Lead Generation
The internet allows you to collect data from site visitors and generate leads. If you’ve ever had a presence at a local home show or similar trade show event, you know it can be both costly and not overly effective. However, you can have a presence online for a fraction of the cost, offer a free guide or download in exchange for adding prospects to a mailing list, and have an ongoing way to stay in touch with the consumer.
If you have a blog, you can tell which topics your site visitors are most interested in. This will allow you to write more content on that topic and draw in even more organic web traffic.
- Acquire Customers Cheaper
It is cheaper to acquire new customers online than by more traditional methods of advertising. The cost to gain a new customer online is about one-tenth the cost of marketing via other methods. As mentioned before, you can continue to refine your website and your marketing methods by tracking customer habits, which will make this form of marketing even more effective over time.
Even though about 90% of purchases still happen in a brick and mortar store, many people have started a process called “webrooming” (the opposite of “showrooming”). This simply means consumers turn to the internet before making a purchase in a store. They want to do some basic research, and then they will go to the store armed with this knowledge. Even if you have a brick and mortar store, you need a website presence for this reason alone.
- Customer Service
Unlike a brick and mortar store, where you have employees present a short amount of time each day, an online store remains open 24/7. Staff it with customer service teams and you gain the ability to reach customers around the globe anytime they want to shop and buy. Even if your business is local, this can come in handy to set up appointments or presale items before customers visit your physical store.
- Social Media Integration
Social media is a great place to connect with local leads. Around 70% of households in the U.S. use the internet to shop for local products and services, and one great way to reach them is by having an online presence that integrates into social media.
For example, you can create an ad on Facebook and target it to be delivered to a very specific audience, even in a local area. The ad could then link to your website. When you realize just how many people are on social media, you see how important it is to have an online presence to connect with consumers.
- Securing Your Brand Identity
At a minimum, you should reserve your domain name (URL) through a registrar and consider at least a basic landing page with your company’s contact information. Without this, you risk someone taking out your company name and creating a website around it. It may or may not be something you want your brand name associated with. Be the first one to grab the name and build the site so you control what is put out there with your brand name.