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The fastest way for a small business to lose favor in the eyes of a prospective customer is to not have a website up. Seriously, in this day and age, to not have a website—or to have an archaic one—is akin to not having a phone. Imagine what a customer reading a print ad for your store would think while scanning your ad searching for a phone number or contact information that isn’t there?
Not having an online presence for your business, or having a website that looks like a relic created by an IT student in a 1998 college dorm would create, is equivalent to a poke in the customer’s eye. Someone typing in the name of your business on a search engine expects to see a website pop up. When the search results only display an address and phone number, without the “website” tab, it sends a clear message to the would-be customer that your business is out of date, passé, and old school.
Why You, Mr. or Ms. Small Business Owner, Need a Website
You may have owned a small business for twenty years that has done OK, dependent on those loyal local customers to stay afloat. Maybe you have never even considered a website. You just don’t see what all the hype is about—the Internet is just some newfangled device that you have no use for. If mediocrity, or just getting by is your thing, then ignoring the potential boost in revenue that a website can generate is understandable.
For the small business owner who strives to take their business to the next level, who wants to maximize their revenue potential, a modern, well-designed, optimized-for-mobile website is an essential business tool that makes that happen. The thing is, your competition gets it and they will leave your business in the dust by taking advantage of the many benefits a website has to offer.
Benefits of a Small Business Website Include:
Instead of a limited local presence, having a website opens up a whole new world of opportunities to increase revenue. A website offers broader visibility of your brand outside of neighboring communities. By expanding into other markets you will capture new customers near and far. Search engine optimization (SEO) and targeted Google Adwords and/or Facebook advertising will help further your company’s reach online.
In business, reputations matter. Having a modern website creates a professional image and conveys the message that you are serious about your small business, that you value your customers, and that you desire to forge a deeper relationship with them. If you have done it right, your site will have a well-planned navigation framework, contact forms, a regular influx of fresh blog posts, and a clear call to action. All of these work together to create a favorable impression of your small business.
The fairly recent business trend of relationship building as part of the customer experience is enhanced through the website. By allowing your site to connect on different levels, you will be forging a relationship with the consumer. This can be accomplished by Contact Us forms inviting feedback and offering newsletters. Social media links on the pages direct the consumer toward those feeds to further engage them. Videos on your website that relay your brand’s mission or educate the reader about an aspect of the business are a great way to build a relationship with a potential clientele.
As competitors expand their reach with well-crafted, optimized websites, they will be taking business away from you. There is only so much pie on the table, and the savvy small business owner who recognizes the power of utilizing e-commerce to max out his reach is going to garner a bigger slice of that pie. Customers can pick up the scent of a half-hearted effort to stay in the game and will gravitate towards the enthusiastic player who is actively building their online presence.
These days, people hesitate to drive to a brick and mortar store or business before first checking out their website. They can check out your site any time of the day, even when your business is closed. This offers the customer important information about the hours of operation, directions to the business, and a rundown of all the goods and services your business offers—before they waste gas and time getting to your door. Your website should provide an FAQ page that will hopefully offer answers to common customer questions and concerns about your business, further enhancing the convenience factor.
A DIY Website vs. A Professionally Designed Website
It may be tempting to go the bargain route and attempt to set up your own website using one of the many free templates available online. While it may seem more cost-efficient to spend all that time creating the website yourself, in the long run, it is a “penny wise pound foolish” endeavor.
A stock template or “free” website service will not be designed with the nuances and needs that your unique small business demands. It is wise to hire a professional web developer and designer who will create an impressive, optimized site that will be a workhorse for your business instead of a liability.
Website Design Matters
Web design matters. Poor web design will frustrate your customers and turn them off almost immediately. This will sabotage the whole purpose of building a website in the first place. Furthermore, it will never rank in search results. It is best to make the investment in a professional developer/designer and reap the benefits of a solid online presence that will lead to increased prosperity for your small business.