Even today, many small businesses dont realize how a professional website can help them generate new customers and leads, improve visibility, and increase their bottom line
1. Consumers Look to the Web FIRST
A recent study from the Center for Media Research reports that more than 82% of consumers today turn to the web first when looking for products, services, and information. They don't look in the Yellow Pages, they don't check the classified ads, they go to Google to search for information, or they log on to Facebook to see what their friends have to say. If customers go to the web and don't find your business, they will almost certainly find your competition instead. If you don't have a website, how much business are you missing out on?
2. Boosts Your Bottom Line
A website can definitely help you win new customers and generate new sales. A recent study from Discover Small Business Watch found that almost half (47%) of consumers said they are more likely to use a small business that has a website. So in the quest for new customers and increased sales, you are much more likely to land new customers just by having a website! Even better, if your business has products that can be sold online, adding a simple shopping cart to your website can uncover an entirely new source of revenue and sales for your business.
3. Your Competitors are Already There
Like it or not, your competitors probably have some sort of online presence and it could be anything from a simple website to a rich multimedia experience with integrated social networking! The larger your competitor, the more likely it is that they have a substantial online presence, too. A professionally designed, purpose-built website is a great way to level the playing field with competitors, even the big ones, showing consumers that you are every bit as credible and capable as the competition (or show them how you're better!). It's also a great way to expose your business to a much larger audience who may not otherwise even know about your business.
4. Reach Customers Where they Are Online
Building an effective website and online marketing strategy is typically one of the highest return-on-investment initiatives a company can take. There is no other medium that is as versatile and responsive to your business as a website. Data published in December 2009 (www.internetworldstats.com) tells us that 74.2% of the population in North America is online. Your customers and potential customers are already online, and today they expect your business to be there, too.
5. Lend Credibility to Your Business
People want to know details about your business before they call you, and often use the web to "check out" businesses before they consider buying from them. Providing background information, contact information, and testimonials from other customers can all help reassure potential customers that your business is credible and will be able to meet their needs. Visitors are typically looking for solid information on which they can base their decisions, and a website can help establish the necessary credibility for your business and generate trust and confidence in consumers.
6. Consumer Education
Providing visitors with detailed information about your products and services helps them know exactly how you will be able to meet their needs. Consumers today use the web to research before making purchases they look for price comparisons, product options, quality differences, and any number of other criteria depending on the problem they are trying to solve. A feature-rich, custom website not only showcases your unique products and services, it also demonstrates pride in your business and illustrates to customers why your business is the right choice for them.
7. Working for you 24/7
Your website works for you all day, every day, serving your customers even when you are not. Your customers can go online at any time, day or night, when it is convenient for them regardless of your business hours.
8. Information Resource
A website can provide customers with information that they just cannot get in any other media. For example, users can view a map to your business with customized directions, fill out information requests or send you questions anytime, place orders or make payments online, watch videos about your products or services, see examples of your work, etc. all available to them at any time.
9. Expands the Benefits of Other Marketing
For each type of "traditional" marketing you already use, you can expand the benefits by simply adding your website address to the ad, flyer, listing, etc. So rather than seeing the ad and then forgetting about it, customers can instead follow up with a visit to your website and immediately access much more detailed information, communicate with you, or learn more about your business.
10. Increased Efficiency
How much time do you spend on the phone repeating secondary details about your business? Things like directions to your location, hours of operation, what products you do or do not carry, details about how something "works" or "looks", what credit cards or payment methods you accept, etc. etc. All the time that you (or your staff members) spend repeating this information could be time spent on other more pressing issues; like running your business or performing specialized functions that only you can do! Websites make it much more likely that consumers will find the basics online, and then engage with you if they have more specific questions or when they are ready to buy.
By Five Sparrows, LLC
Web Sites & Marketing for Small Business, www.fivesparrows.com