Why do you need a website?
If your marketing strategy doesn’t include a website, you’re doing it all wrong. More and more, the first place potential customers look is online. Even if they already know your business and have done business with you in the past, the first place they go to reconnect is almost always to the Internet. The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 63% of all Americans “have come to expect that businesses will provide product information through a Web site”. And about half (46%) “say they are more likely to go to a physical store to buy a product if that store provides information about its wares online, regardless of whether those products are available for purchase through the Web site”.
So if you don’t have a website, you’re going to lose that potential revenue. Period. It’s really that simple. The consensus of the general public is that if a business doesn’t have a website, they are not the “real deal”. Not having a website is akin to not having a sign in front of your store – you may as well not even exist.
The Web has become the standard for conducting business. It started, of course, with large businesses and technology firms, but now businesses of all sizes, from the local café to your doctor, are using the Internet as part of their small business marketing strategy. Having a website is really the first step in letting the community, and potential clients, know you exist.
But is just having a website enough? Not really. We’ve all seen those websites that were designed by the business owner. Your immediate reaction is that they are unprofessional looking – the graphics and fonts just lack that “sparkle” that sets apart professional design from that of the amateur. Even if you can get beyond the ugliness and lack of professionalism, you soon find that the site is not designed for easy navigation and it is hard to find the information or product you’re looking for. These sites tend to have a very high “bounce rate” – meaning people come to the site, and then leave without digging any deeper – they bounce right off.
AC Nielsen, a world renown media research firm, found that small businesses which used the Web effectively as part of their marketing strategy, saw a 51% increase in profits over businesses that did not. And an amazing 58% of small businesses reported higher growth and expansion as a direct result of their Web site. That’s pretty solid proof that the Web should be a part of your small business marketing plan.
Your business needs a site. That much you know. But it needs a site designed by a website design specialist who knows how to make it look professional, and how to make it function the way the visitor expects. Well designed sites make it easy to find what visitors are looking for, and ultimately, drive revenue to your bottom line. And isn’t that what any marketing strategy is designed to do?
Look for part two of this series soon – which will explain the next step: Search Engine Optimization – what it is and why you need to do it.