As a local business, you need a website because your market demands it. Customers routinely use the Internet as an entry step in the marketplace for many product and service purchases. Other important reasons include the opportunity to deliver products to a wider market than your local base and to compete more effectively.
1. YOUR SMALL BUSINESS WILL GAIN CREDIBILITY
Today, more and more consumers use the internet to search for the products or services they need. Your small business will gain credibility by having a website. Without one, potential customers will go to your competitors that do. If you already have a website but it is “home-made”, having it professionally redesigned will provide your business with a professional image which will inspire even greater confidence. For home-based businesses, this is particularly beneficial since you do not have a store front to promote your products or services.
2. A WEBSITE SAVES YOU MONEY
As a small business owner you probably think you can’t afford a professional website, but you can’t afford NOT to. Although the cost of designing a website varies, once it’s up and running, a website for a small business generally costs under $100 a month and, in some cases, as little as $20. Compared with the cost of a newspaper ad, when you consider the potential market you can reach with a website, it is a very cost effective way to promote your business.
3. IT WILL ENABLE YOU TO KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS INFORMED
Think of your website as being your online brochure or catalogue. It is much easier and quicker to update information about your products and services on your website than in print material, making it an effective way of letting your customers know about the arrival of new products, upcoming events, special promotions, or any new services you now offer. Unlike print ads which quickly become outdated, your website can provide current information and news.
4. IT IS ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE
A website is available to both your regular and potential customers 24/7/365 providing them with the convenience of reviewing your products and services when your store or office is closed. With today’s busy lifestyles, this is a great selling point when making a purchase decision.
5. A WEBSITE MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO TARGET A WIDER MARKET
Whether you provide products or services, your website will provide an alternative location to sell them. As a retailer, a website (eCommerce) is a great place to sell your products to a wider market; even services can be made available globally. Don’t think you’ll be able to sell your products or services online? Don’t forget, even cars and houses sell online!
6. IT PROVIDES A MEDIUM ON WHICH TO SHOWCASE YOUR WORK
No matter what type of business you’re in, a website is a great place to showcase your work. By including a portfolio or image gallery, as well as testimonials about your work, you can demonstrate what makes your business unique.
7. A WEBSITE SAVES YOU TIME
Providing information to your customers takes time, whether it’s on the phone, face-to-face, in a brochure, or in emails. With an online catalogue you can provide lots of information about your products and services. Once your website is up and running, it is available to your customers indefinitely, saving you time. And what is time? Time is money!
8. IT IMPROVES CUSTOMER SERVICE
Maybe you sell environmentally friendly products and would like to share tips on how to recycle, or perhaps you’re an accountant and want to give your clients advice on how to simplify their bookkeeping practices. By including a FAQ page, adding articles or uploading newsletters to answer all your customers’ questions you can keep them up-to-date. What better way to provide them with value added service than by sharing information on your website.
Tip 1. It’s an internet world and the world is on the internet. About 80% of consumers use the internet to search for products and services they need before they make a purchase. Most customers today will assume your company has a website and may search for your business only to find you do not exist on the world wide web. Most of your competitors probably already have a website. Don’t let them snatch your customers away by not having your own company website.
Tip 2. Use other forms of marketing to promote your website. On its own a website is not a useful marketing tool. We always recommend that you promote and advertise your website by including the web address on all your print material and business stationery, such as business cards, flyers, signage, delivery notes and invoices. And when you network or attend other events, don’t forget to mention your website to new prospects. Use your print material to drive traffic to your website by only including essential information to grab the attention and gain the interest of potential clients and by directing them to visit your website for more information. This way, you can reduce the quantity, size and/or frequency of your print material and therefore reduce printing and distribution costs as well as damage to the environment. Read ideas for promoting your website.
Tip 3. Use WordPress to manage your web content. If you plan to update your content on a regular basis consider a content managed site. Most web host providers offer some form of content management software that allows you to easily and quickly update your own content. Discuss this with your website designer prior to beginning your website design, as they should be able to help you choose, customize and, where necessary, upload the CMS software to your web server. Our CMS of choice is WordPress which can be customized to suit your needs and is very easy to use.
Tip 4. Add a blog or resource section to your website. If you find potential clients ask you the same questions think about adding a Frequently Asked Questions page to your website. Not only will this save you time by not having to repeat the same answers, it will also drive additional traffic to your website and will potentially increase sales of products your customers did not know about before. If the line of work you’re in is constantly changing, and you want to keep your customers up-to-date, add a blog to your website so that you can don’t have to pay a website designer to add your content. WordPress is the ideal tool for this and can easily be customized to match your static website.
Tip 5. Integrate social media and video or photo sharing with your website. There are a number of reasons and methods for integrating your website with social media and video or photo sharing web sites. Using these sites you can direct traffic to your website on a regular basis or when you have something new to share. The inbound links from high-profile websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr and now Google+ will increase your search engine results page ranking.
Using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ you can communicate with potential and regular customers letting them know about upcoming events, new products and services, special offers and discounts. Create a professional profile on LinkedIn to demonstrate your skills and expertise for anyone looking for what you offer. Create a Facebook page and post photos of recent work or new products, with links to your website’s portfolio or products page. Create a Twitter profile and post relevant tips and information with links to corresponding articles on your website. Create short videos and upload to YouTube to showcase your work or demonstrate useful tips to help clients. Always include a link back to an appropriate landing page on your own website and ensure you include a call to action on that page.