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Let's address the elephant in the room...
...You might not need a website.
...I said it.
Few businesses don't need a website and can get by on their reputation or clientele they've built up over the years.
Others can build a relatively healthy business using social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Just because you can build a business without a website...
...doesn't mean you should.
So, let's consider 10 reasons why your business needs a website (even if you're killin' it on Facebook).
According to the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration), "97 percent of consumers search online for products and services, but one out of every two small businesses is simply not there for customers to find".
A large majority of consumers use the internet every day to research products and businesses before choosing what to spend their money on and who to spend it with.
However, that doesn't mean that most consumers are looking to purchase something online.
Most people aren't looking to purchase a custom home, salon services, medical services, or baked goods online.
But, they are doing their initial research online.
And, in most cases, they're not looking specifically for you or your business.
So, unless you're investing in marketing and have an effective way to create awareness about your brand...
...If you don't have a website, you will lose that customer to someone who does.
You know you're trustworthy...
...but potential customers don't. And that can have a huge impact on your bottom line.
According to a recent survey conducted by BrightLocal (an SEO and local citation platform), 36% of consumers believe that a website gives a business more credibility.
Credibility = Trust
Trust = More Purchases
Today, consumers expect businesses to have a website. Just like they would expect the business to have a business card and a phone line.
When they don't find a website...a red flag goes up.
When that happens...your credibility is questioned.
And this doesn't only affect potential customers. Many banks will withhold providing loans or financing to small businesses contingent on them having websites.
Having a website is not about vanity.
It's about being transparent and accessible...and that builds credibility and trust.
I could have said it improves your visibility on the search engines...but we know Google is the search giant.
With over 3.5 billion searches on Google per day, many of them possibly about your products and services, you want Google to display your business as a solution to those queries.
Remember, Google is where most people's initial research begins.
They don't search for products and services on Facebook. That's for killing time looking at pictures of friends and family.
And the odds of your business appearing as one of the top results on the first page of Google for specific search queries increases as your website continues to grow.
It's even possible, and quite common actually, to appear multiple times on the first page of Google...in addition to any social media platforms you might be on.
This improves the chances a Google user will click on your website and improves your chances for gaining a new customer.
Do you have a portfolio of products or services that you show to each prospective client?
Make life easier for you and them by sharing it on your website.
It's a lot easier, time-saving, and gas-saving to give someone a link to your website than to coordinate a time to meet at your office or local Starbucks to go over your portfolio.
At the same time, people still doing their initial research can find you and look at your portfolio at their convenience.
This provides them with value upfront, answers their questions, and convinces them that you're the one they want to do business with.
The sky's the limit when it comes to how you choose to display your brand on your website.
You have complete control...
You can share as much, or as little, as you'd like on your website.
Share your vision for your business.
Share your mission statement.
Share testimonials and case studies.
You can't get that kind of control on social media profiles. You have to play by their rules and their terms & conditions.
If Facebook decides to change the layout of their pages, or change how they want their platform used...you have no control over it.
Having a website ensures that you will still have control over your brand regardless what any social media, or third-party platform decides to do.
Your customer is probably not going to send a support ticket or ask for help on Facebook.
That's a very public forum.
You can enhance your customer service by providing a dedicated "Contact Us" or "Support" page on your website.
Doing this tells your customer that you care...
...That you want to provide the best customer service that you can by giving them a private channel to reach you through.
This has the added benefit of being easy to remember and be indexed by Google.
There's a lot of things that we would like automated...
...your sales process?
If you have a repeatable sales process, then there might be some steps in that process that can be automated.
If you have a questionnaire that you typically go over with each client, why not have them fill it out on your website?
Do you require clients to send you files or images before you can provide a quote?
They can do this on your website.
Are there questions that almost every client asks before hiring you?
Set up a Frequently Asked Questions page on your website that you could direct your customers to.
Tired of printing and mailing invoices to your customers and waiting weeks to get paid?
Let them do it on your website.
There are many more ways that a website can save you time and energy by helping to automate your sales process.
You've probably read or heard that a person needs to be exposed 7 times to a business before they decide to purchase from that business.
I don't know how accurate that is...
But I do know this...
They need to be exposed at least more than once.
That's where most people assume that having a Facebook Page is enough for their business.
Under the false assumption that every fan of the page is notified when the page posts something.
Did you know that Facebook Page posts only reach about 2% to 4% of their overall audience?
And certainly not worth the effort.
In other words, if you have 1000 Facebook Likes only 20 to 40 people are notified of your updates!
Of course, you can improve these numbers if you pay to promote your posts.
That's not a bad thing.
But, more and more, Facebook and other social media platforms are becoming pay-to-play for businesses.
However, your website can be a powerful tool in generating leads and keeping in touch with them to expose them to your business again and again.
You can have an email signup form on your website.
And as your email list grows...
Your reach will grow.
In other words, if you have 1000 people on your email list all 1000 will be notified when you send an email.
And in most cases, sending an email will cost you nothing.
According to DigitalCommerce360 "U.S. e-commerce sales reached $105.10 billion in the second quarter, a 16.3% jump compared with $90.40 billion in the second quarter of 2016. That’s the highest year-over-year increase in online retail sales since the first quarter of 2012, when e-commerce sales increased 16.8% over the prior-year quarter."
In plain English...
People are spending a lot of money online.
And there are no signs that this is going to slow down any time soon.
Online shopping is not a fad.
We're in the age of Amazon Prime where more and more people are comfortable with giving money to online merchants.
You can put your business in a position to benefit from this growing trend by giving people the opportunity to shop on your website.
You can decide how simple (a PayPal button) or elaborate (full e-commerce solution) your shopping experience can be.
Remember...with a website, you're in control.
This isn't about joining the bandwagon...
...there is no bandwagon.
The internet is not a fad.
Having a website is not a fad.
This is business.
And your competitors have come to the realization of all the reasons above to establish a website, a professional online presence...
...to enhance their brand,
...improve their visibility online,
...and be in front of their customers, and potentially your customers, when they're searching online.
You could be losing customers to your competition simply because you don't have a website.
It's not about vanity...
It's about being visible and taking advantage of every opportunity and tool available to get exposure and drive awareness for your business.
Whatever your reservations have been for not having a website...
... there are many valid reasons why you need a website for your business.
And that's just the start.
Once you've established an online presence with a website, you can use it as a marketing hub and take advantage of many other digital marketing strategies to grow your business.