As investments go, spending the time and money to research, design and build a great business website has probably never been more important. While some 50% of small businesses still focus their efforts offline, only in the physical world, pursuing traditional means to promote themselves and win new customers, this is a risky strategy to take in an age when customers are spending more and more of their time online.
With ever-growing national and global internet uptake, statistics show that web users will typically use online means to look for information about a product or service in the first instance. What this means is that businesses who assume an online presence in addition to their traditional operating model can have a bigger chance of being found by these potential future consumers. Meanwhile, more and more businesses report the importance of features such as social media accounts and blogs to reach new customers, generate interest and boost sales. In these instances, a company’s website can become a hub, linking an ever expanding network of new platforms to connect with an audience and build a following.
With this in mind, it’s worth reiterating some key reasons why any serious business should already have a well maintained, attractive website setting out their ‘digital stall’ and how investment here will grow to add value to businesses large and small:
Think of your website as your online shop window. It not only lets people know what you’re about and what it is you do, but it will be the central hub for all customer enquiries and the first port of call for anyone interested in finding out about your business. As your digital stall, your site will act as a brochure for current and future clients, offering a unique profile of what you can offer and as your business grows, this portal to deliver your message becomes an even more important, long term resource. Not only that, but you now have a global presence, not restricted to any regional boundaries.
By creating quality content, building relevant links and creating a site that customers want to engage with, you set yourself up as a brand with authority in the eyes of search engines and increase your chances of appearing in online searches when future customers are seeking your services. Not only does creating an optimised website help you to gain important visibility for the right terms but SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) basics can help control where your site shows up in web searches and for what queries, helping draw new business and establishing long term ‘footfall’ into your site.
Your digital stall differs from the physical shopfront in many ways, not only is it not constricted by distance or location as mentioned above, but it can also be truly open and available for your customers 24/7. Access for sales, payments, even some enquiries can become automated processes that don’t require monitoring to give clients immediate results. Along with information on products and services offering consistent customer support, a website properly set up with an e-commerce function will generate serious sales over time with very minimal costs to maintain.
Reputable businesses have a good website. That’s a fact. As well as a quality site offering information, branding and a legitimate face for your business, investment in this area is invaluable to give credibility to your work and build a strong customer base. Client testimonials on your site and an associated blog loaded with quality content addressing the issues your customers care about demonstrates a level of authority and market knowledge within your sector that will build customer loyalty and trusted relationships in the long term.
Having a site offering the function to collect customer emails is a personal and practical way to grow an organic customer base over time. Subscribers who joined your email list through your website are clearly very interested in what you have to offer, email marketing is one of the the best long term investments with a much higher return because people will continue to get your message at a very low cost for a longer period of time. Essentially, it’s more cost-effective than traditional marketing tools, as websites can run as long as you have updated domains and hosting services.
The global business landscape has changed and is rapidly evolving away from traditional methods to online and interactive channels where social engagement through websites is key for business success. This is the new normal, with potential customers visiting your website or arriving at it through SEO or social media channels more than ever and a much more cost-effective, long term approach is required to successfully market your brand. Techniques for traditional outbound marketing (such as cold calling) are not only very expensive to maintain but also rarely deliver great results and are therefore likely unsustainable in the long run. Websites, meanwhile, have become great tools for saving more money while generating more profits. These and the many other benefits we’ve discussed are just some of the reasons why having a professional website is a great business decision and undoubtedly a good long term investment.
By David Marrone
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