In this day and age where digital technology and the Internet has influenced how we live and work, it is shocking to know that very few small business owners have a website.
Based on 2014 survey results, 41% of small business owners reported they don’t think they need a website. What that means is they probably don’t know the benefits of having a website for their small business.
1. Improve Business Credibility
A simple way to view a website is that it is your online business address. This is where your customers, clients and associates go to find you on the Internet.
The Home page identifies your branded value proposition, the About Us page tells visitors all about your business and the Contact Us page informs everyone how to get in touch with you.
It legitimizes your business and improves your credibility. It gives your business an identity and is virtual proof that it exists.
Don’t be mislead into thinking a company page in Facebook is enough to build your credibility. A 2015 survey showed that 84% of consumers believe that having a website makes your business more credible than just a social media page.
Having a website means you have your own domain. In the same survey, 65% of respondents regard a company-branded e-mail as more credible than a generic one.
2. Build Your Business
Before broadband technology became widespread in 2004, websites were used primarily for marketing and informational purposes. A website functioned more like a brochure; you put one up to stay ahead of the competition. But there wasn’t much thought and purpose behind the content.
With the growth of the Internet, the influence of social media and the popularity of mobile devices, the website has become a crucial tool to build your business.
- Share Your Story – According to Nobel Prize winning psychiatrist Daniel Kahneman, consumers patronize brands they can align their values with.
A website is a great way to share your story; tell your audience why you started this business, your goals and what you hope to accomplish with it.
- Get Clients – It’s not enough to have a rock star online profile. 36% of clients prefer to deal with businesses that have websites. By contrast, only 21% will work with businesses without websites.
A website gives you the platform to highlight your experience and expertise.
- Find Your Team – Are you looking for people to help you run your business?
Set up a Career page in your website where prospective candidates can fill out an application form and attach their resume.
Post your job requirement in social media and link it back to your website. You should have a good number of candidates in no time!
3. Enhance Your Online Presence
Here’s a statistical fact that will blow your mind:
This number is expected to grow as the world becomes increasingly dependent on mobile technology to search the Internet. Today there are an estimated 2.3 Billion smartphones worldwide. But in 2020, the total number of smartphones is expected to hit 6.1 Billion.
If your small business does not have a website, you will be undermining its ability to generate income. And not just any website; but a mobile responsive website, one that can be accessed by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Statistically, 65% of online traffic comes from mobile devices.
A mobile responsive website will help you capitalize on the opportunities available on the Internet through the following ways:
- Improve Search Rankings – By optimizing your web pages, it will be easier for people to find your content.
- Distribute Content – Create relevant, unique and usable content and distribute them through different channels such as social media and blog sites. People who love your content would want to know more about you and visit your website.
- Open 24/7 – Unlike a brick- and- mortar business that operates 9- to- 5, a website never closes shop. It is open 24/7, even on holidays.
- Introduce Business Flexibility – If you don’t want to miss out on opportunities, outsource customer service and have your agents manage all concerns and inquiries via chat or e-mail support at your website.
4. Build a Strong Relationship with Your Market
A business by definition is a living, breathing entity. Loyalty is achieved when customers know they are dealing with a company that understands their needs and not just a company that wants to profit.
- Let the Market Know “Who You Are”. Outside the Home and About Us pages, you can set up a blog page where you can share your thoughts and ideas with your audience.
- Address the Needs of Your Market. Invite your audience to engage you by encouraging them to post comments on your blogs. Embed survey forms and ask your audience to participate and convey their needs.
- Educate the Market of Your Business. Utilize the 80-20 Rule; 80% of your content should be usable or relevant to the needs of your audience while 20% should educate them about your business.
- Improve Customer Service. In addition to e-mail, social media, mobile and landline, install chat support as the 5th avenue for customer service. This will give your end-users more options to relay concerns and inquiries.
5. Efficient Way to Promote Your Business
If you are still using traditional forms of marketing, you are wasting valuable resources, time and money. Traditional forms include press releases, print ads, flyers and distribution Point- of- Purchase materials.
While still popular, traditional methods cost more money and cover less ground. It is also unsustainable; flyers, posters, print ads and press releases usually end up in the trash can.
Online marketing is faster, more efficient and inexpensive. There are many tools and techniques that you can use for online marketing but without a website, these strategies will fall short.
Think of the website as the sun with these online marketing tools as the planets revolving around it. Your online marketing efforts will create inbound avenues to a specified destination place which is your website.
Among the most popular online marketing tools that you can use to create inbound traffic to your website:
- Social Media – Of the 3.5 Billion people online every day, 2.34 Billion or 67% are on social media.
- Blogging – Companies that blogged 16 times a month received 4.5 times more leads than those that blogged 0-4 posts per month.
- E-mail Marketing – E-mail marketing is 40 times more effective in acquiring customers than Facebook.
- Use Videos – Embed a video on your Home page. A video can deliver your messaging content faster and more efficiently than text. Video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.
Finally, online marketing is a sustainable process. Your content will not go to waste. You can easily update it and reuse after a few months.
6. Boost Your Reputation as an Authority
If your business is in a competitive industry, a website will give you the forum to boost your reputation as an authority figure.
- Blogging – There’s one reason why blogging is the cornerstone of the content marketing process: It works! Here are 3 key statistics on the benefits of blogging:
- Websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages.
- 47% of buyers read 3 to 5 blogs before engaging a sales rep.
- 61% of consumers report a blog influenced their decision to buy.
- Podcast – Set up a podcast in your website, distribute the schedule via Twitter, Facebook and invite experts to discuss topics that interest your audience. 21% more people listened to podcasts in 2016 compared to 2015.
- Seminars – Conduct seminars on your website. This is a great way to share your knowledge with your market. Encourage your audience to actively engage during the seminar.
7. Create a Tool for Sales Generation
A website can also be an active and passive tool for generating income because it is the termination or exit point in the sales funnel.
It is very difficult to convert sales in social media. There are no available mechanisms to complete the transaction on- the- spot. An e-commerce website for example, has a checkout counter where goods and services can be paid for right away.
It can also be a good source for passive income via PPC or Pay- Per- Click advertising. Advertisers will pay you every time a user clicks through their ad in your website.
8. Showcase Your Work
Here’s a valuable tip for those who want a clear advantage in the job market:
Open a personal website and include a page that showcases your body of work.
That is one valuable tip that Hiring Managers all over the country wish job applicants knew. The same can be said for small business owners. A website will give you the venue to present samples of your work.
If you’re offering interior design services, content writing, professional web design services and other types of work that can be made visual, a portfolio page will encourage more clients to try you out.
If you want to increase the impact of your portfolio page, include 5 or more client testimonies. You can put the client testimonies in the Home page which is where users land after clicking unto your link or the Services page.
9. Keep Track of Your Business in Real Time
One of the most significant benefits of having a website for a small business is that you can keep track of its performance in real time through the use of analytics.
Analytics will provide you valuable data on how your business has been moving within a period of time. Key indicators of business performance include the following metrics:
- Number of visitors going to your website.
- Number of “unique visitors” or those who visit your website only once.
- Page views or impressions tell how many times a page has been read or visited. This will give you an idea on which type of content visitors find interesting.
- Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website without exploring past the page they landed on.
- Average time on site will show how long visitors view your content. The longer the average time on site, the better for your website.
10. Professionalize Your Brand
Many small business owners make the mistake of not working on their brand until they gain traction.
You have to start working on your brand before launching your business. The brand gives your business its identity and makes it easier for customers and clients to understand what it is all about.
The website is the most effective and efficient way to build and professionalize your brand:
- It places your branded value proposition front and center in the Home page.
- Website optimization techniques can help Internet users find your brand.
- It can be distributed seamlessly through various online channels.
- A professionally made website shows you are serious about your business.
11. Expand Market Reach And Coverage
If you have a school, having a website will expand your market reach and coverage. You can offer online courses in specialized subjects to people outside your jurisdiction.
For example, you are planning to introduce a school for Business Leadership training. You can create modules that can be uploaded on your website. People who sign up for your courses, will be able to access the modules and undergo online learning.
Now let’s take it a notch higher by introducing a Learning Management System (LMS).
An LMS is a digital platform that allows you to replicate conditions for face-to-face instruction. There are LMS platforms that have features for virtual classrooms.
In addition to modules-based learning, you can provide classroom-style instruction or one-on-one consultation.
The courses can be accessed by anyone with Internet service. If you live in Los Angeles, someone from Europe or Asia who is interested in your program can sign up.
12. Provide Contingencies for Your Brick-and-Mortar Business
If there’s anything that can be learned from the Covid-19 global pandemic is the importance of having a website for your brick and mortar business.
The massive spread of Covid-19 necessitated governments worldwide to impose community lockdowns in their respective countries. Businesses came to a standstill – except those that have websites.
Businesses with a website were able to run a telecommuting program whereby employees work from home. An employee can log into a built-in portal where they can sign-in, retrieve the day’s assignments, and upload completed work.
Customers can also use the website to contact you via email or chat support. In case they have issues with your products, customers will have a platform to air their concerns.
Definitely, this will do wonders for your brand reputation!
With a coronavirus vaccine still under the early stages of development, there are fears intermittent lockdowns will be imposed.
Protect yourself from Covid-19 by staying home but protect your business by having a website.
With a website, it will always be “Business as Usual”.
13. All-In-One Business Hub
The website has evolved by leaps and bounds since its early beginnings when it was used primarily as an Internet-based marketing brochure.
Today’s websites are more advanced and equipped with features that can turn it into an all-in-one business hub.
What can you do with your business website?
- Provide a showroom for your products
- Finalize sales transactions through various modes of payment
- Receive resumes and pre-qualify them through an Applicant Tracking System or ATS
- Provide social proof via testimonials and customer reviews
- Organize customer information with a built-in CRM
- Offer subscriptions
- Sell memberships
- Educate your audience with blogs, e-books, modules, and training manuals
- Give your audience an interactive experience with the use of 360-degree images and videos.
- Provide customer support channels via chat, email, or built-in forms.
- Give clear-cut information about your business including a location map, directions, phone numbers, and email addresses.
14. Have a Professional Email Address
What is more impressive?
Any person who’s named “Dan” can have a [email protected] email. But only Dan; the owner of your-domain-name can have a personalized email address.
Having a professional email address has the following benefits for your business:
- Creates better brand awareness
- Representing your company with a free email account may be seen as a red flag for some prospects
- Control the number of emails for your business. If an employee leaves, you can terminate the email.
- Allows you to create specific email accounts to organize business operations. For example: [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected].
15. Keep Your Business Open 24/7
Unlike a commercial establishment, the Internet doesn’t have operating hours. Your customers can find you 24/7. There are no holidays and you can “work overtime” without incurring extra costs.
Thus, a website can be an effective way to improve your customer service.
If you have chat support available, all you need is to hire customer service agents who can manage incoming inquiries and concerns, and have them addressed immediately to the right person or department of your company.
You may want to outsource customer service to another region where time zone differentials exist.
For example, a North American company can hire customer service agents from the Philippines. With the 12-hour difference, the agents can provide customer service to your clients while you are sleeping.
16. Gain Valuable Insights On Your Customers
For those who ran businesses before broadband technology became widely available, you probably depended on traditional marketing strategies to promote your products and services.
Traditional marketing strategies include the use of press releases, broadsheet advertising, the use of Point-of-Purchase materials such as flyers and counter-top ads, posters, and streamers.
Not only were these marketing strategies expensive, inefficient, and unsustainable but they delivered poor ROI. It’s hard to track the performance of your marketing campaign with the traditional approach.
In contrast, a website will collect data on your visitors:
- Where do they come from?
- What are the demographics?
- Are they using mobile or desktop?
- Which types of content are they interested in?
- What is the frequency of cart abandonment?
A website has built-in analytics that you can use to assess the performance of your business as well as evaluate the effectiveness of your digital marketing program.
17. Stay Ahead of the Competition
Or at the very least – keep pace with the competition.
It’s not going to look good on your brand if your competition has a website and you don’t.
More than branding concerns, not having a website gives you one less stream of revenue to help your business stay profitable.
Go back to #15, “Keep Your Business Open 24/7”.
With a website, your business can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection. Prospective customers can view your products, testimonials, and read your content before they make a decision to buy.
18. Find Clients
More accurately, your clients will find you!
Some well-intentioned people may advise you that you can run a business with only social media – no website needed.
That’s not true.
Other than the 16 other reasons discussed above, social media marketing is not that effective for converting sales.
Only 12.5% of consumers are enticed to purchase by a “Buy Button” on a social media page. In contrast, 60% of consumers reported that they were encouraged to purchase by an email.
Thus, email marketing is a better strategy than social media marketing for converting interest into sales.
And this “leads” us into #19…
19. Generate Leads
Lead generation is an important component of email marketing and your website is the best tool for capturing email addresses.
When someone gives you his email address, he is giving you permission to send content to his inbox. If you ask your friends, family, and network of contacts, they will gladly give you their email addresses.
What about a complete stranger? A person who just visited your website?
He will not surrender his email address to anyone without getting something of value in exchange.
With a website, you can offer a free monthly subscription to a newsletter, an e-book, or limited access to premium content.
By doing so, you add value to your business, enhance your reputation, and most importantly, gain the trust of a potential customer.
20. Open New Streams Of Revenue
How else can you earn money from your website? Aside from having a virtual store to sell your products and an Internet-based address where prospective customers can find you, here are other ways to make money from your website:
- Paid Ads – If your website generates an impressive amount of traffic and ranks high in the search results page, the advertisers will come knocking on your inbox!
- Affiliate Marketing – Promote the products and services of other businesses and earn a commission from every sale that’s generated from your website.
- Get Hired By Other Businesses – If your blog page has a good following, reputable websites might ask you to write for them for a generous fee.
21. Manage Your Business Reputation
The website is your platform on the Internet. This is the place where you will be heard and have 100% full control over your content.
Let’s say you’re the meat refining business and there are concerns about tainted meat being sold in markets and popular restaurants.
You can put a disclaimer on the home page of your website and inform site visitors that your raw materials are sourced from a region that has been declared safe for consumption.
You can embed an explainer video on the home page or add images of certifications from recognized organizations attesting to the safety of your meat. From there, link the home page to your social media accounts.
If you want an effective website or one that can help you take your business to another level, you have to be prepared to invest in one. In a survey of small business owners, 19% identified cost as another reason for foregoing a website.
A website is not an expense. It is an investment because you should expect a return on your money within a period of time.
For your investment to pay out, you have to make sure your website is professionally designed, fully functioning with fast download speed and packed with great content.
Do not penny- pinch and try to do a website on your own despite the availability of free templates. Your best option would always be to hire a professional web designer who has the experience and training to build a functional yet aesthetically beautiful website.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.