Can you think of any successful business that doesn’t have a website? There’s a reason why they all have one, just as there is a reason why they are successful. It’s not just large, successful businesses who have sites anymore; increasing numbers of small and medium-sized businesses are reaping the benefits of having an online presence, especially since more people are online and because of the growing popularity of local search and Internet yellow pages.
Let’s look at how having a website can improve your business:
- It enhances your company’s credibility—If given the choice between buying an expensive item from a company with a website or one without, which company would you feel more comfortable doing business with? Your prospective customers feel the same way. You need a website to be taken seriously. Also keep in mind that, with more and more people making their purchasing decisions online, your website will be your target audience’s first impression of your company, so it needs to look good and be easy to navigate.
- Branding—The look and feel of your website distinguishes your company from your competitors. The content and design of your site can play a major role in establishing your company’s identity. If done effectively, customers will remember you and you can build customer loyalty more effectively.
- Compete with larger companies—Can your brick and mortar store in your town or city compete with a competing retailer in Manhattan? The Internet has leveled the playing field in the marketplace. A professionally created website for a small business can make as effective an impression as any Fortune 500 company. With more people making their buying decisions online, your website gives you as good a chance of making the sale as any company.
- Reach new markets—You can sell your products and services to people anywhere in the world. Multilingual websites allow you to communicate with non-English speaking consumers and merchant processing and ecommerce solutions make it easy and safe to conduct transactions with individuals globally.
- Improve your reach locally—Internet yellow pages are rapidly replacing the book. More and more people are also using locally defined keywords in search engines to find businesses. If you’re not there, people will go elsewhere.
- Lead generation—A website is a great tool for generating sales leads. Content is key in this instance. An easy to navigate, clutter-free site will help you make sales. Tools such as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can effectively drive traffic to your site and result in high conversion rates if you choose the right keywords. Google™ and Yahoo both offer conversion tracking or ad tracking software.
- Market research—You can minimize the amount you spend on market research. If you want to know what your inventory should look like, just check your site’s activity. What do your customers want? They tell you with every click. If you need specifics, conduct an online survey.
- Promotions—You can promote new or enhanced products or services quickly, effectively and inexpensively online. Your customers can find, redeem and/or print out coupons online. This substantially reduces high printing and distribution costs, as well as the wait involved for printed material.
- Customer incentives—Use your website to reward your clients for their loyalty or to increase your company’s visibility through online contests.
- Public relations—House your press releases, media kits, and investor relations information on your site. If you’ve generated some positive coverage, you can feature the articles on your site, as well.
- Online community—Build your own buzz. Featuring a forum or bulletin board on your site is a great way to share info and obtain feedback from your target audience.
- Communication—Online newsletters, emails and related vehicles keep existing customers informed of new product launches or enhancements, promoting your products or services for increasing customer loyalty.
- Conduct business 24/7—A website allows you to transact business and provide customer assistance around the clock, 365 days a year. You will radically improve customer service as a result of your ability to interact with your customer base in a timely fashion.
- Keep content fresh—You no longer need to distribute three-year old brochures that you don’t have the money to redo, or because you bought them in bulk to get a good price. You can update information about promotions, new products and solicit feedback and share pictures instantly. An up-to-date site will keep people coming back.
- Post company info and FAQs—By making this information readily available and easy to find online, your customer support staff can focus on selling, not educating.
- Recruiting—A website offers an effective way to find qualified employees for your company. Its reach also allows qualified candidates outside of the community where you do business to find you.
There are many more reasons for building a new or enhancing an existing website. If you still think you’re saving money by not having a website, then you’re not factoring in all of the money you’re losing to your competitors who do have a site.
How has a website improved your business? Do you have any tips to share? Please leave me a comment.