For the vast majority of businesses the answer is yes! Your website is important as the hub of your online presence for your business.
But just having a website won’t cut it anymore. Years ago, having any kind of a website meant you were cutting edge. Not so today.
Today, almost all businesses have (or should have) a website and, similar to a retail store front, what visitors see when they arrive at your business website will determine whether they delve deeper into your site or leave right away!
The Yellow Pages! Seriously?!
It wasn’t that long ago that the first place consumers searched when they were looking for a product or service was a printed phone book or the yellow pages. Today, the print phone book and yellow pages are pretty much passé. They have going, going, gone the way of the dinosaur!
Not that long ago the average consumer “let their fingers do the walking” through the print phone book or yellow pages. They then spent time phoning or visiting a number of businesses/retailers to uncover information about the products/services they wanted to know more about.
Today, their fingers still do the walking … except they do it on a computer keyboard.
Consumers then visit your business website and that of your competitors, assuming there is a business website for them to visit. If you sell your products/services online they may make the purchase then and there. If not, they may call you or send you a message through your website contact form or subscribe to your newsletter, etc.
That’s IF your website provides what they’re looking for:
- A good first impression (so they don’t immediately click off your site and go somewhere else).
- Easy and clear navigation (so they can find what they are looking for with as little thought as possible – intuitive).
- The information they want/need (so they see your website is more than just a pretty face, it’s a valuable and professional looking resource with the helpful information they are seeking).
Many businesses are so focused on getting onto the first page of Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search results, they forget that what visitors find when they arrive on their website is a critical piece of whether they take the next step – call, email, subscribe, place an order – or not.
Getting Onto the First Page of Google Search Results
While every small business, or business of any size for that matter, wants to appear first in Google search results, this is an unrealistic goal for most businesses. Let’s face it, as with anything, there is only so much room at the top.
Search engines are getting better all the time at delivering relevant search results to searchers, and as a result it takes much more than having a keyword rich stuffed website and paying a monthly fee to an “SEO Expert” to get a website to show up in the first page of search results!
Why You Need A Website (Even When You’re Not #1 In the Search Results)
Whether you show up at the top of search results or not for certain keywords, your website is hugely important for your business!
A recently released Neilsen’s study, “When Engaging Canadian Consumers Online, Marketers Must Use The Right Tools” highlights the importance of a branded website:
- For automotive and financial purchases, 23% of new consumers and 16% of repeat consumers visited branded company websites first to aid in their research and to make a purchase. Search engines were the 2nd most common online method with 17% of new consumers and 11% of repeat consumers.
- For consumer packaged goods, an equal percentage of new consumers visited a search engine (9%) and a branded company website (9%) first when going online to research consumer packaged goods. For repeat consumers, 8% visited a branded company website first and 6% used a search engine first.
Product blogs / product review websites come in third as the online research tool new consumers and repeat consumers use for both automotive and financial purchases and for consumer packaged goods.
A Few Of The Reasons Why Your Website Is Important
There are a number of reasons why a website is important for your business, and here are a few of them:
- When someone mentions your name – in passing or as a direct referral – to someone they know, a search of your business name should result in your business appearing at or near the top of the search results.
- When you provide your business card, a promotional flyer or some other marketing piece to others, your website becomes an important way for them to be able to check your business out. They only need to look at your website address to know how to find out about you. This applies whether you are introduced to someone by a friend, you’re handing out your business cards/promo materials at a local event or you’re sending out a mass mailout or eNewsletter, etc.
- When a potential customer drives by your business location or sees your name on a product, an online search of your name should result in your business coming up at the top, or very near the top, of the search results.
- When your website address is displayed on a car banner, product, product packaging, etc. it makes it easier for consumers to find out more about you and your business.
Driving Traffic to Your Website – Be Creative
Some time ago my husband and I were out for dinner when a young couple came in with an 8-month old baby. They had brought their own booster seat for the child and began to secure it to the table. The booster seat was collapsible and on the back of it was prominently (and tastefully) displayed the name and logo of the company who made the seat.
As is often the case where young children are involved, we struck up a conversation with them. I remarked on the unique booster seat and the mother proceeded to tell me how they had seen another couple use the booster seat in a restaurant and decided they wanted to have one for their child.
They remembered the name and branding they had seen on the back of the chair. It didn’t require a search for collapsible booster seats, a simple search for the name of the company yielded the desired results.They then proceeded to find out more about the product and then to purchase the collapsible booster seat.
Make It Easy For People To Find Out More About You
There are many ways people may hear about your business, but how easy is it for them to then learn more about your business?
A website in and of itself has no value, unless it presents a good first impression when people arrive at your site, and then goes beyond that to deliver at least some of the content that consumers hope to find.
Within seconds of arriving on your website visitors will decide whether to dig deeper or leave. Within seconds they will get an impression of who you are – or who you are not.
Why People Visit Your Website
Today the average consumer visits your business website to do one or more of the following:
- Find answers to general or specific questions they may have
- Learn more about specific products/services
- Investigate and/or compare products/services and prices
- Check out what others have to say about you and/or your products/services, by reading online reviews and testimonials
- Get your phone number or the location of your business
- Purchase products/services online
- Get a sense about your business and what you might be like to deal with
Visiting your website allows consumers to find out about you while in the privacy and comfort of their own home or office, or even while shopping in your store, before they take a next step or buy your product.
Does Your Website Have Curb Appeal?
Visiting a website for the first time is somewhat like driving by a house that is listed for sale.
The external appearance or ‘curb appeal’, before you go deeper, will help you decide whether to take a closer look. If the house doesn’t have ‘curb appeal’ you may never go further than driving by. One look is all you need to decide you don’t want to see more.
The inside of the house may be quite attractive and well laid out. But, if your first impression of the house – the curb appeal – isn’t favourable, you may never go beyond driving by it on the street.
This is true of a website too. Within seconds people will decide whether to hang around and go deeper (click a link, visit another page), or leave your site.
If the first impression is a good one, is there anything of value once they take the next step (click a link, visit another page)? Is the site well laid out, easy to navigate, are the images good quality, is the information what they are looking for, etc? If not, chances are your visitors will be gone in seconds.
Fixing Your Website Doesn’t Need To Cost A Small Fortune!
A new business website, or improvements to an existing website, needn’tcost a small fortune, for most.
The average small business website requires good quality images, well written content, helpful information, calls-to-action, a nice layout, good navigation, responsive/mobile-friendly design, a contact form, social sharing options plus a few other bells-and-whistles that aren’t that complicated. Things like an events calendar, blog, online store, photo-gallery, etc.
Certainly there are some businesses that will require a level of functionality that is much more expensive than the average website, but for most this is not the case.
However, the cost to your business of not having a website that represents your business well, and that is more than just a pretty face, is likely far greater. It can impact your reputation and your income and undermine your branding.
In an online world where consumer decisions are heavily influenced by what they see online, having a website that represents your business well has never been more important.
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