LET'S GET REAL. An amazing 50% of small businesses still don't have a website. It's 2017 and we are in the 'Digital Age', unfortunately you can't be taken seriously as a business without one. How can you build any credibility online (especially if you sell B2B) using just a Facebook page and some pretty pictures on an Instagram account?
At the very least, having a website proves you care enough about your business: and by extension your customers; to bother spending the time, money, or both on a proper web presence.
41% of the small businesses mentioned above that still don't have websites say they 'don't need' a website, for reasons such as:
- they don't understand them or how they could help their business
- they seem 'too expensive' or time-consuming, complicated, etc
- they 'didn't need one before' so 'don't see why they need one now'
When you look at how much the world has changed in the last 10 years: the stratospheric rise of Google, smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many more...change always happens, and leaves behind those who resist it. Whatsapp has only been around for 7 years (it was launched in 2010), and who could imagine life now without family groups, sending as many photos as you like for free and your friends forwarding you silly videos every day?
Failure to adapt, or change is one of the biggest killers of small businesses.
Things might be 'OK' now, but what about in a year, or two years', or five years' time?
Failure to plan for the future is failure, full stop. Having this kind of attitude is like jumping off a cliff and thinking halfway down 'well this isn't too bad, so far, so good...'
Take football (soccer, for my American friends) as an example.
The team that wins the Premier League each year, do they just sit back and do nothing afterwards while all their competitors scramble and spend hundreds of millions to get better?
No - they go all-out to buy even more great players to give themselves the best chance of continued success in the future.
Think small, and you will always be small.
As the old saying goes, 'shoot for the moon, and at least if you fail you'll land among the stars'. In the modern age, websites are cheaper and more accessible than ever before, so there really is little excuse.
Anyway, here are those 6 main reasons you need a website in 2017...
1. If Google Can't Find You, You Are A Ghost
By far the biggest search engine is still Google. After that? YouTube. Anyone surprised by that?
Facebook is a very distant seventh. That means a Facebook page is effectively invisible off-Facebook to anyone not specifically searching for it already.
As the pie chart above shows, Google hoovered up a huge 87% of all searches in the US last year. YouTube was a very distant second, at 3.71%. Facebook in seventh place? Only 0.69%.
Having a well-designed website, built around the keywords YOUR customers use, compared to just having a Facebook page...is like opening a shop on the busiest high street you know; as opposed to trying to sell your products from your Dad's garage out in the middle of nowhere.
Without a website, you also can't take advantage of the advertising power of Google AdWords (or Bing if you are that way inclined).
A crucial difference between advertising on Google vs Facebook is that people on Google are actively searching or researching products and services with the aim of buying them, if not straight away then at some point in the future.
A Facebook ad, on the other hand, can catch someone as they are busy looking at funny cat videos, pictures of their friend's wedding or trying to see what their ex has been up to at the weekend.
Are any of those ideal situations for them to see your advert, and are they likely to buy from you based on that?
Probably not, and it's important to remember this difference in the 'mode' people are in whilst browsing different areas of the internet.
Think about the last time you were searching for a new product or service too. Did you log onto Facebook and hunt for it on there, or go straight to Google?
HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK SHOULD YOUR BUSINESS POST
ON FACEBOOK? Click here to find out...
2. A Website Gives You Street Cred
If you don't have a website and your competitors do, all else being equal, customers will be more likely to choose them purely on the added trust factor a website provides. This Bright Local study below shows customer attitudes towards local business websites:
That doesn't really seem fair does it, you've put all that hard work into building your own business around a great product, delivering great customer service and seeing some great results...
...yet one of your inferior competitors starts getting more business, just because they have a half-decent website that makes them 'seem' more professional?!
I know it would frustrate the hell out of me if I lost even one customer purely because I didn't have a website, especially given how affordable they are these days!
With drag-and-drop website builders available like Wix (which I myself built this site with for speed and ease of use), Weebly and Squarespace, anyone with a working knowledge of computers, design and writing a bit of copy only needs to invest time, rather than any significant amount of money.
3. A Website Can Actually Save You Money
Maybe a strange concept (to some anyway), but true. The initial cost of building a website varies hugely, from, as above, almost nothing except your time to tens of thousands of pounds. Or, if you are the US Government, $18,000,000 on 'The Most Expensive Website Ever'.
Nice bit of work there for US I.T firm Smartronix.
Once they are up and running, however, websites generally cost less than £50 a month to run and even as little as £5-10.
Compared to the cost of newspaper or magazine advertising, which at a minimum costs hundreds of pounds per month, when you think about the size of the market you can reach with a website, they are highly cost-effective ways to market your business.
This is apart from all the other opportunities a website offers, in terms of customer service, lead generation, and having a platform to publish and even monetise your own content.
4. A Website Never Stops Working, Even When You Do
No one works 24/7, it's impossible.
Don't believe those internet memes or motivational slogans of 'Instagram millionaires'.
The Internet, on the other hand, never stops. While you sleep, eat, work, play, are on holiday or even sitting on the toilet a website lives and breathes and keeps on advertising your business for you.
People are also 'busier' than ever in 2017. That often means that, during your convenient 9am-5pm hours, they don't have time to either look for new products/services, or engage with you at those times (anyone who runs a business Facebook page will understand the pain of regularly getting messages at eleven o'clock on a Saturday night).
Having a website gives people somewhere to find you, no matter what time of day or night it is.
It can also save you having to answer basic queries, like where you are or whether you offer a certain product or service by giving people a place to find out for themselves.
5. Not Having A Website Can Lose You Business!
By now, it is evident that not having a website means you are missing out on huge opportunities to show people who you are and what you are about.
As I mentioned earlier, all things being equal, people will choose a business that has a website over one that doesn't. This is based on the impression of professionalism and being trustworthy - but now, here, we are talking about the simple, bottom line.
If a potential customer chooses your competitor over you just because they actually have a website (or a better-designed website), that equals lost £££'s or $$$'s for you.
This is one possible reason for you missing out on business, so the best and easiest way to avoid any risk of this? Get yourself your own website.
6. A Website Gives You A Chance To Show Off Your Work
No matter what your business, having a website gives you a fantastic opportunity to showcase your work.
You can feature top projects/products on your homepage, and then have a separate page dedicated entirely to showing off your best work and exactly why potential customers should choose you!
It just isn't possible to do this with the same impact on a Facebook page, where you can pin one post to the top but otherwise, people will have to trawl through your whole page and months/years of posts to see more.
Alternatively, with one click on a website you can take visitors straight to all your highlights and get them reaching for that 'buy' button, before you can say 'actually now I think about it, I really do need a website!'
I could probably give you 100 reasons why businesses should have a website in 2017.
No matter what your size, even if you are a one-man-band plumber, electrician or nail technician they add tremendous value for the reasons above and many more.
Most people would be aware of the reasons too; they just feel that getting their own website is either too time-consuming or too expensive.
If it seems too time-consuming or you don't have the knowledge to do it yourself, basic websites can be built for only a few hundred pounds.
Which also addresses the misconception that all websites cost thousands and thousands of pounds.
Let's go back to the 41% of small business I discussed earlier that think they 'don't need' a website.
What they are really saying is that they don't want it enough and aren't interested enough in growing their small business, to bother building one themselves or investing the money into one.
How can I conclude this?
If we got every single one of those businesses now and emailed them offering their own well-designed, functional website, completely free, with no maintenance costs and with absolutely zero effort needed on their part, how many would say 'YES'?
If not 100%; then 99%...and that's only because the other 1% don't read their emails.
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Want more info on affordable web design for small businesses? Don't hesitate to email Gil@run-dmg.com or find me on LinkedIn
Thanks, Gil David