If your business can’t be Googled, then, for most people, it doesn’t exist.
You may be able to create leads via word-of-mouth, social media, or through speaking engagements. But if you don’t have a website or if your site cannot be found online, then you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of business.
You see, the vast majority of people begin their search for a product or service online.
In one study, they found that 81% of shoppers search online before they make a purchase decision. In a different survey conducted by PowerReviews, they found that 38% of shoppers start their product searches with Amazon, whereas 35% begin with Google. What is more, the average number of sources people consult before making a purchase decision averages 10.4.
So let’s face it: People search before they shop.
Adapting to this change in consumer behavior is vital to the long-term well-being of your business. In other words, you need to help customers find you online.
In connecting with your target market, there are many tactics you can pursue. But before you do anything, the first step you need to take is to build a solid foundation with your website.
Now, I know this will sound like a no-brainer for many of our readers, but many small business owners do not have a website. According to a report by Clutch in 2016, they discovered that half of the small businesses they surveyed did not have a site.
From their research, there were several reasons provided why these small business owners did not have a site, such as costs and lack of technical abilities. However, the number one reason listed for not having a site was relevancy. Basically, many small business owners do not believe a website is relevant to their business or customer.
In this post, I want to counter this belief and share five reasons why a website is essential for your business—regardless of your industry.
1. Websites let you control your audience’s experience
Instead of building a website, many business owners lean toward connecting with their customers exclusively on social media. But there’s one harsh reality when it comes to building your business or brand on social media. It’s like building a house on rented land. You don’t actually own it.
For example, social media networks will not ask for your permission to make changes to their services. Often, the changes social media platforms make are beneficial in general, but they may adversely affect your relationship with your customer. However, building a website for your business puts you in control.
For your website, you have complete control, you can customize it however you see fit, and you don’t have to battle with any distractions.
What is more, it’s easier for you to lead your potential customers and hold their attention as they go through the buying cycle — first becoming aware of your product or service, then considering its value, and finally deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
2. Websites let you reach your audience without a gatekeeper
The promise of reaching billions of people on social media is just a promise. You can amass a huge following on social media, but you will not be capable of actually communicating with every single individual unless you pay to play.
For instance, Twitter says you can freely reach 30% of your followers, whereas Facebook puts you in a position where you have pay to be seen by more than 5% of your followers. (Some brands with 500K likes on Facebook report only 2% organic reach.)
Since social media platforms limit your potential reach (and third-party apps sometimes block your ads), it doesn’t make a lot of sense to primarily promote your business on social media.
3. Websites will lead to more in-store purchases
Do you want more people to visit your store’s physical location? Then build a website and optimize it for local search results.
Recent studies have discovered a growing trend in what’s called “webrooming.” For many people, they prefer to search online before they make a purchase offline. So, before entering your store, they will search online for their product of choice.
What does this mean for you?
Simple, it means your website is your company’s virtual front door.
4. Websites are what customers prefer
Where is the best place to interact with your audience?
Answering with “social media” is usually the way people respond. And it makes sense, too. Social media platforms are where billions of people around the world go to connect with their family, friends, and even brands online.
But here’s the crazy thing.
When it comes to engaging with you and your brand online, adults online are three times more likely to visit your website than your Facebook page. (This is just one example among many.)
People may like your updates, retweet your tweets, or even leave a comment, but when it comes to engaging with your company online, they would rather visit your website to learn more about your business and offerings compared to social media.
According to Tyler Krause, owner of Conversion First Marketing, your website is “a 24/7 brand representative and your customers are looking for it!” He went on to say, “We install analytics tracking on every small business website prior to a redesign and business owners are almost always shocked to find how many of their customers and referrals visit their sites on a regular basis.”
In short, social media may receive a ton of attention today among small business owners. But building a website with a solid content marketing plan in place will produce an ongoing source of high-quality leads for your business.
5. Websites are a better way to collect data
On social media, the connections you have and the data you collect belong to the social media platforms, which isn’t the case when you build an online audience through your website. You are in charge of the connections you make. You own the data. And you can take it with you wherever you go.
On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal. But the data you accumulate over time can help you exponentially. From possessing comprehensive analytics, customer contact information, and purchasing history, you can place yourself in a great position to meet your customer’s needs.
Do you want more business?
Then let me ask you this question: Do you have a website?
If yes, then great. You’re well ahead of the game. But make sure your site is optimized for keywords relevant to your business and that it works on mobile devices.
If no, then you need to build a website (using a church website builder for religious groups is essential too). Don’t allow the misplaced fear of costs or technical skills get in your way. There are many cost-effective options you can choose from to build a website for your business.