Out of necessity, many small businesses are quite frugal when it comes to their budget. They tend to only spend money on “need-to-haves” as opposed to “nice-to-haves.” And many see buying a domain name and setting up a website as a luxury they simply cannot afford. So instead, they may set up a Facebook page and call it a day.
In this article, we’ll discuss why a website is not a “nice-to-have,” and instead it is a much-needed, affordable tool for every small business.
1. Control Your Business
As a small business owner, you control most of your business’s decisions. If you have a physical storefront, you choose exactly how it looks and how it’s laid out. So why should your online presence and digital marketing be any different?
Facebook is a fine tool for reaching a certain clientele, but it has severe limitations. It has one layout, no customization options, and most importantly, you don’t own your page on Facebook. Basically, it’s fine until it’s not.
A website gives you a home online that’s yours and only yours. It allows you to show people your unique brand and what makes you stand out against the competition. It gives you control over how you communicate to your customers.
2. Be Credible
Professional websites lend instant credibility to any organization or business. With a website, you can effectively communicate your unique brand and values to potential customers, showing them that you are a legitimate business. This will get them truly excited to purchase your products and tell others about your business.
Without a website, many potential customers will question your business’s credibility. Further, they won’t gain an understanding of your true identity – who you are and what you stand for. They’ll just think, “Oh, this business looks just like every other business Facebook page.” You will lack credibility, and won’t stand out from your competitors. Worse, your competitors that do have websites will stand out from you.
3. Be Accessible, 24/7
With a website, you can communicate with customers and make sales 24/7.
First off, your website should give customers everything they need to know about your business, including your contact information, product or services, about me, etc.
If you make direct sales, you can use your website to include e-commerce functionality, including payments, inventory management, shipping management, coupon code tools, and more.
4. Add Value
Websites are also a great tool you can use to add value to your brand. You can do this by creating a robust About page and/or keeping an active blog.
An About page communicates to customers who you are as a brand – what you value, why you exist, and your mission. This is really important, as many potential customers visit the About page before deciding to purchase products or services. They need to know your values align with theirs and that you can be trusted.
An active blog does the same as an About page but takes it a step further. A blog educates customers, bringing them closer to your brand as a trusted expert in the field. As a bonus, an updated blog can improve your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
5. Be Found
In some ways, Google has become ubiquitous with the internet (or at least finding things on the internet). So much so, that the verb ‘to google,” is now in the dictionary.
So it has become necessary to be included in Google’s search results. But having an online presence on social networks is simply not enough to be found.
Having a strong, professional website full of good content is the best way to rank on Google.
6. Get Leads
Rather than solely relying on a sales team to generate your leads, let a website become a lead generator! Once customers are interested in your products or services, they’ll know exactly how to reach you via your website. Also, existing customers will be able to easily tell their friends and family about you, increasing sales. Consider this scenario:
“Hey Tamika, where’s you get that dress? It’s so cute!”
“Oh, this new website – [ ].com!”
In this scenario, without an e-commerce website, Tamika would only be able to point her friend to some Facebook page. And at that point, there might not be an easy way for her friend to purchase the dress. The end result? A lost sale.
7. Compete With National Brands
Websites are great tools for connecting local businesses with local customers. This is because Google and other search engines prioritize results based on the user’s location. For example, if you’re in Springfield, MO and you search “auto shop,” you’ll be provided a list of auto shops close to you.
If you’re a local business, there are just a few things you need to do to take advantage of local search. First, create a Google “My Business” page and add your information to the page. Then, make sure your address shown on your website and Google My Business Page match. That’s it!
8. Do All of This Without Breaking the Bank
We acknowledge that one of the main reasons small businesses don’t acquire domains is because of the purchase price. However, due to reasons 1-7, we feel that the cost is worth it. The one-time purchase price is paid for by all the benefits of having a good website. When used properly, websites provide a positive return on investment (ROI).
Additionally, many options make websites less cost-prohibitive than ever before. These include:
- Using third-party website builders like Wix or Squarespace instead of hiring a web developer
- Purchasing alternatives to .com such as alternative TLDs, a ccTLD, or a domain hack
In the digital age, acquiring a domain name and setting up a professional website is a necessity. It’s as essential as a fast-food restaurant having a drive-thru window, or a retail store having a dressing room. Essentially, do it or leave money on the table (at best) and get left behind (at worst). It’s a no-brainer.