I was astounded to find that half of all Small Businesses TODAY still do not have a website (Inc Magazine).
Now this shocks me because of the opportunity the Internet gives us today over traditional marketing. Prior to the Internet, owners needed lots of money to advertise and get their brand out there on traditional outlets like TV, Radio, Print Publications and so on.
Today roughly 86% of the U.S. population is on the internet (Internet Live Stats). And if you have your sights set on going beyond the border, having an online page is even more imperative.
Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection today.
In 1995, it was less than 1%.
The number of internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013.
The first billion was reached in 2005. The second billion in 2010. The third billion in 2014.
-Internet Live Stats
When someone is interested in what you have to offer, they will most likely check out your page on the internet. 94% of online shoppers conduct research before purchasing and 61% of online shoppers use search engines to discover information when shopping online (Compete). The fact is that half of all consumers are “informed consumers,” indicating they tend to gather information about products before purchasing online (Experian Simmons).
Why is this important? Because the perception when you don’t have a page can be dangerous. Maybe you aren’t serious about your business, or you are new and not reliable, or maybe even a scammer. Now who wants to be scammed? Not me, or you, and probably anyone breathing for that matter.
Today, anyone can get on the Internet and setup a page to share their brand with the world. Don’t expect overnight results, since you need put in the time and work to get the right people to see your service/product offerings and BUY. More on marketing in my next post.
For now let’s go over my top five reasons reasons why your Small Business NEEDS a website to succeed in the marketplace today.
1. Foundation For All Marketing
You meet people and hand out business cards, networking, promotional materials, and all that good stuff. What happens next?
The research above tells us that their next steps is likely to visit your page, so have one for them. If you don’t, then you lost a valuable opportunity to engage them. If they want more information, why are you saying no? Give it to them and get closer to that sale!
Another advantage to the website is the concept of re-marketing and re-targeting, or being able to follow the consumer from 6-12 months a year with banner ads. Through Pay-Per-Click, you can increase the number of touch points with the customer to stay top of mind.
You are probably wondering, why is increasing touch points important?
Every day, people form impressions of brands from touch points such as advertisements, news reports, conversations with family and friends, and product experiences. (McKinsey & Co.)
You can broaden your reach to more consumers with a website, but without it you are limited to your 1:1 engagements and referrals. Don’t limit yourself if you can avoid it.
2. Customer Service
With a website you can answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), recommendations/testimonials, directions to your physical venue, and so much more.
All these play a role in convincing the customer that purchasing form you is a safe investment and not a risky bet. Most people are skeptical and want to make sure they are making a smart decision. Help them with that without having to repeat yourself to every single customer.
It also removes their need for calling directly because, let’s face it, people have “no time” and may hold off. And before you know it, they forgot all about you.
3. 1/10th the Cost of Traditional Marketing
Back to the cost-savings, there is no cost to engage people on a website. Now, focusing more on marketing, driving people to it can be done through popular Social Media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name a few. Here is a social networking site use study by age group, over time (Pew Research Group):
A commercial/ad on TV or NY Times Newspaper, respectively, cost several thousands of dollars to run, and a Billboard in Times Square costs around $2.5 Million, and Social Media Ads can generate thousands of impressions for $20-30 (AdAge).
I don’t know much about numbers, but for a small business owner, social media provides a great way to bring people to, you guessed it, your website to learn more and buy.
4. Your Competition Likely Has One
All I have to say is: Out of sight, out of mind.
There are likely other people doing what you are doing as well. If people can find them and not you, who would they be more likely to buy from?
5. Integrated Marketing Works Better
Touched on it before, but it’s important enough to have some quality time.
Really what this means is that your marketing works better when you have it all integrated. Lead all your potential customers to one common source where you can focus on converting them. When people are interested, make it easy for them to find you online, build trust with your brand, and find how to buy.
Without a website, you have to follow-up individually, and that takes time. I always recommend working smarter, not harder. A website allows you to communicate the relevant information to the masses, freeing up your time to get more leads, build your business, and enjoy your life.
Today, the internet is open and free for all to utilize and advertise. Now, this doesn’t mean it’s entirely free, as we now have Pay-Per-Click Advertising (also described as Pay-To-Play) on all major Search Engines and Social Media channels. This makes it hard to compete without online ads. But unlike with traditional media, you aren’t priced out to the extent that TV, Radio, Billboards and others would.
If you aren’t technical, no worries! There are ways to find someone to help with setup and can teach you to manage it moving forward. Contact me if you have any questions (:
Anyone have other ideas on why a website would be useful for small business owners?