About a year ago I had lunch with an acquaintance who runs a successful clothing business, on Facebook. At one point in the conversation she asked me if she should create a website. I was surprised to hear this question — to me, having a website for a business has been Marketing 101, for the last decade. When I inquired why she didn’t already have a website, with an eCommerce component, she replied simply “I don’t really need one”. This was right at the beginning of Facebook’s major crackdown on organic reach by professional Facebook pages. I urged her to look into getting a website as soon as possible. Every business needs a (good) website, and here’s why:
Why Social Media Alone is Not Enough
Only using social media as a marketing channel is a lot like picking only the best selling product in your shop and getting rid of all of the other products. What happens if the cost of that product goes up? What happens if consumer trends change?
I think you get the point. The number one rule of investing is to diversify, and it’s the same for marketing. Just because Facebook or [insert social media channel here] is carrying your business now doesn’t mean it won’t change completely by the same time next year.
The Difference Between Using Social Media and a Website for Your Business Hub
Social media is dynamic, it changes all the time. This is what makes it a great marketing channel, but also one of the most volatile ones. A website is a “static” marketing channel, over which you have 90% control. You may not control the host, but – if your website was created correctly – you have the domain, the code and the content. As long as you continue paying your domain registrar and your hosting provider, your website will continue to exist. This is stability.
Websites haven’t changed “much” in the last decade. Yes, many business owners had to make a change to mobile responsiveness, but much like a brick and mortar business, websites need maintenance, upkeep and occasional upgrades. The basic structure of a website, as an information hub, hasn’t changed.
A Website Helps Your Business Get Found
In the 90’s, a Yellow Pages listing was an absolutely must-have for business owners. Google is new Yellow Pages. Unlike the static Yellow Pages, however, search engines are dynamic, they mold and adapt to trends. Because search engines are evolving with the internet, they will likely continue to be around for an extended period of time, in one form or another. Search engines are how most consumers conduct research online, before making a purchasing decision. A good business website provides the means to create relevant content which can be found by consumers looking for your product or service.
Social Media is Not Where Most Consumers Search for Products or Services
Most consumers don’t go to Facebook to look for your product or service. Consumers are on Facebook to be entertained, primarily, and in some cases to inquire about a product or service from their friends. In fact, most consumers are probably not researching products or services on any social media platforms.
Your catchy Facebook post isn’t showing up on search results pages. Guess what is? Any page on your website! At this point, many popular social networks are pay-to-play, meaning you have to spend ad dollars for consumers to see the content you’ve already spent resources to create. While having a good social presence is imperative, to keep your brand top of mind, and to establish dialogue with consumers, social media is not a substitute for a good website.
Why Some Businesses Still Don’t Have a Website
So, why then do intelligent business owners still not have a website, even if they have a social media presence? Everyone is not a programmer. The allure of social media is, a lot of the time it doesn’t take much, if any, technical knowledge to set up and manage a social media page or a few. The good news is, with a user friendly content management system (CMS), like WordPress, setting up a website has never been easier.
The Simplified Process of Setting up a Basic Website
Decide on a URL/domain > register domain > find a hosting provider & secure hosting > one-click install WordPress > point domain name to your new website
For someone experienced in doing this, the whole process takes about 30 minutes or so, and typically costs around $ 240, which is around $ 10/month for a domain name for a year and around $ 10/month for hosting for a year. You typically pay upfront for both. Most people should be able to handle this process on their own.
Where things get a bit more challenging is the actual set-up and design of the website. This process can be labor-intensive, depending on how complex you want your website to be and how much content you plan on putting in place, but typically does not warrant much additional cost if the person setting this up has the time to research information, all of which is widely available for free on Google.
With this all said, there is really no reason a business owner should not have at least a very basic one-page website set up.
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