Are you one of those entrepreneurs who doesn’t believe your business needs a website?
Back in the day, the excuse was “websites cost too much.” A more modern excuse for not needing a website is, “I’m on Facebook” (or Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram). While I applaud those who understand the importance of having a social presence, they misunderstand the primary purpose of social media—which is marketing. Social media is not a substitute for having a website. In fact, one of the goals of having a robust social presence is to drive consumers to your website. In short, your business needs a website.
Why your small business needs a website
There are numerous reasons having a website is crucial to a small business’s growth. One of the most important ones is control. When you build a website, it’s yours. It’s all about your brand. Whether you DIY the site or hire web designers to create it for you, the end result is 100 percent yours. It’s up to you to decide on design, content and goals.
If you rely on social media as a website substitute, you cede control to someone else (which is the opposite of being entrepreneurial). You must use their design, abide by their rules and drive consumers to their site. In essence, you’re spending money to promote their brand. Plus, these companies change their algorithms and policies all the time.
You have no control over the fate of a social site. In the last several months, we’ve all heard about high-profile people deleting their Snapchat and Facebook accounts, which often leads to other people deleting their accounts. This trend can create an overall negative impression of that social site—which can spill over to your company. And of course, no one can guarantee any social media platform will be around for the long term. Remember MySpace? It was the world’s largest social networking site from 2004 to 2010.
Despite the buzz, not all consumers are active on social media. Even if you have a presence on one or two platforms, your customers could be active on another. And many consumers use social media to be, well, social. They want to look at family pictures and talk to friends, not hear a business pitch. (Find out more about how consumers use social media.)
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Meeting consumer expectations
Your business needs a website–but not just any website will do. We’re no longer in the early days of the internet. This is the 21st-century, and customers have different expectations. Bazaarvoice says millennials have the most spending power of any generation ever. This demographic, and Gen Z, the one that follows, are digital natives. They expect the companies they do business with to not only have a website, but for that site to be optimized for mobile viewing as well. (Get some tips on designing a mobile friendly website.)
Not having your own website can hurt your sales. If your marketing directs consumers to a social site, can they make a purchase there? In most cases, they cannot.
Consumers often look up a business online, before they decide to do business with you. If you don’t have a website, what will they learn about you? Most consumers today consider businesses without websites to be less than trustworthy.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers turn to the web when they’re searching for local businesses, according to a study by the Local Search Association. What’s more, the LSA reports, business websites are the number-one place shoppers go when they’re ready to buy something.
Get your own domain name
Simply put, every business needs a website, and there is no longer an excuse not to have one. It’s more affordable and easier than ever before to set one up.
First step: You need a name. For maximum effectiveness and credibility, you need your own domain name (e.g. YourBusiness.com). That is how you build a brand. That is how you create a consistent online “home” for your business. That is how you give your customers and prospects direct access to your business.
Once you choose your domain name and register it, you need to create an effective website. Remember, your ultimate goal is to drive consumers to your website so you can convert them into customers. Think of your website as a hub, and everything you do to promote your business (social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, and online ads) as the spokes. Together they’re a powerful tool that drives traffic, builds awareness, attracts new customers, better engages with current clients, and creates a stronger business primed for growth.
Websites work. No matter what your business or profession, a website can generate business, promote goodwill among customers and prospects, and deliver strong marketing messages – whether your business is small, large or in-between, well-established or brand-new.
People use the Web in greater and greater numbers, more and more every day. Even if you are a completely local small business, service, contractor or consultant, odds are people have used search engines to look for your web site – and if you don’t have a web site… well, you get the picture.
Your business Web page delivers that picture to your customers and prospects, and does it 24/7/365.
Perhaps the most common misconception about business websites is that they must offer products for purchase, accept credit cards and process financial transactions, and so on. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
While ecommerce websites are increasingly popular, the vast majority of business websites are still information and communication rather than purchase-oriented. If your business offers products and services appropriate for retail sale over the Internet, then by all means you should consider an ecommerce website.
But if, like most businesses, your products and services aren’t intended for Internet sales, you still need a Web page of your own. And you can get one quickly and economically.
The first thing you will need is a Web hosting service – that’s the address of your business Web page, and the company that actually stores your business’s website on its computers and makes it available to Web users. Many Web hosting companies offer both domain and hosting services. Here are some things to consider as you build a website for your business:
Choosing a Domain Name
Ideally the address of your website will match the name of your business, such as ABC.com; in reality, many addresses are already taken. If that’s the case for you, give some thought to an original Web page address/name that reflects your business: ABCmytownname.com, perhaps, or something similar. Remember: your Web page address should deliver your business’s name as closely as possible, as well as being memorable and distinctive. Your website’s address is a marketing tool too.
Hiring a Web Hosting Service
Look for a Web hosting service that’s well-established and has a reputable history. Compare fees and determine what services and features are provided for that fee. Also, don’t forget the future – you will find that your business Web site can easily be expanded, updated, grown. Make sure your Web hosting service can accommodate changes and additions, quickly and economically.
Finally, choosing a full-featured service is smart. Does the Web hosting company also offer website creation and website software? What other features, services and products are available or included?
Creating a Website Design
Creating a website is simpler than you might think. Website creation and website software make building a website for your business almost as easy as creating and sending an email. Using website templates, website software lets you accomplish building a website quickly, efficiently, and for a very small price (We have a pocket friendly web design packages, check our pricing table).
Custom website design costs more than making your own Web page, so you’ll want to be sure that both your goals for your business website and the capabilities of your Web designer justify the cost of having a custom website.