Do you own a small business? Does your small business have a website?
If you don't, you are among the 46 to 50% of small business owners that do not have a website, according to several studies and surveys conducted on the matter over the last couple years, including this one conducted by Redshift Research.
When surveyed, respondents were asked for the reasons why they didn't have a website for their small business. Here are the top responses as to why these business owners did not have a website:
You may think that half of your peers also not having a website is a good justification to keep on the same course, but that kind of thinking can get your business into serious trouble. After all the average business goes out of business within 4 years. So clearly, you do not want your business to be just average, do you? It is after all the top 10% of businesses in an industry that typically get 90% of the business. Plus, other studies focused on the consumer views of businesses that have no website or poorly executed web presences, such as the one for the graph below, show the importance of having a professional website for your business.
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So, you think your customers don’t use the internet that much, or don't shop your competition online? Be careful with that assumption. According to Pew Research, 87% of Americans are online. And, more go online every year, and more and more, the first place a consumer goes to find a company to provide them a product or service is online to Google, or to Facebook to ask their friends for recommendations.
So, now that we understand that consumers are online, and they expect a business to have a website, and that it definitely influences their choice as to who gets their business, lets look at 5 reasons your business must have a professional website in 2017:
Reason 1: Because literally everyone in America is online today.
Not only is 87% America online today, according to the above Pew Research Study. Online where they look first, when they are searching for a company to provide them the services and products they need. There has been a total paradigm shift in the way that people look for goods and services over the last 15 years. No longer do they flip out ye ole huge yellow pages book and "let their fingers do the the walking." Sites like Google and Bing have taken that place for all but about 13% of Americans. Take a look at the once infamous Yellow Pages, if you even have one around, its but a shadow of its former glory. Much smaller and thinner, and as most businesses have found out, not the source of phone calls and business it once was for small business owners. The reality is Google, having 2/3 of the internet search users, has become the new digital version of the yellow pages, and just like being at the top of the yellow pages list for an industry or having a good ad placement in the yellow pages used to be the ticket to victory, the same holds true today, but its now Google where this is so important. But, it takes a little different strategy today than just naming your business 'AAA Cleaners' to get there.
Reason 2: You need a website because your customers expect you to have one.
First and foremost, as the graph above shows, a significant percentage of consumers expect a stable, professional business to have a website in this age, and not having one is a sure to cause trust issues with your potential customers as to your company's professionalism, stability, and your ability to deliver on your promises to them. Not having a website, especially when your top competitors do, can make you company look like a fly-by-night organization that can't be trusted, and even if you top competitors don't yet have a website, its sure to help you stand out above and beyond them. That’s what most of your fellow business find true, once they have a newly built website. According to the GoDaddy and Redshift Research survey,
“83% of small business owners who already own a website feel they have a competitive advantage over those without.”
“Of those respondents who already have a website, 59% say their business grew once they had built their website.”
Reason 3: A Website amplifies Your business' word of mouth marketing.
Traditionally, many small businesses have used and tout word-of-mouth marketing as the best advertising you can have, and that is certainly still true today. In fact, its more true than ever. With the new Social Age of the internet, and what some people call Web 2.0, word-of-mouth is now on steroids. The big difference is now its largely online in the manner of online customer reviews, and everyone is looking for them, or asking their friends for recommendations on social websites, like Facebook, before they decide where to spend their hard-earned money. So typically, people looking for goods or services take one of two methods today: They either search on Google for a few potential candidates, then likely go on to read online reviews and ask for friend recommendations on Facebook. Or, they skip Google, and go straight to social media sites like Facebook, ask their friends who then post websites and Facebook business pages of the companies they recommend. Word-of-mouth is still king, and to miss out on all the potential business it generates can be business suicide.
Reason 4: Getting a website is not that expensive for most small businesses.
When you look at traditional forms of advertising, like Yellow Page listings, industry magazine ads, radio ads, and especially TV ads, the cost to benefit ROI is without a question the highest for websites and online marketing. The traditional advertising mediums cost between $2000 to $10,000 per month for a small business, or up to $120,000 a year for even the most modest campaigns. What even worse, for many small business owners the ROI is very poor on traditional advertising, and very hard to track the performance of. The scariest part is you may not know if you are even breaking even, let a lone profiting, for such hefty expenditures. When you compare that to the much lower average costs of online marketing, the trackable performance, and the much higher ROI, for a small business website, its a no-brainer. In fact, a properly designed website and online marketing will is an investment that has a positive return that you can see in real time, and since you can track the performance, you know exactly how profitable your efforts are, and can make changes at any point to improve the performance. Compared to traditional ads that you typically have a 6 month to 1 year contract on, and can't make any changes once its live, leaving you with up to a year of pain and expense, if the ad isn't performing.
Reason 5: Getting a website for your business is not hard.
Today getting a website for your small business couldn't be easier. There are even free website builders like Wix.com, that help non-techies to build websites without having to know how to write the programming code, but I caution any business owner to choose this option carefully. Consider how much your time is worth. Spending countless hours trying to make a website that is user-friendly, gets found on Google, instills trust in the consumer if they do find you, and ultimately gets them to take the actions you are looking for( calling you? ), may not be the best use of your precious time trying to learn, and you may not be happy with the results you get, or the image it portrays for your company. Website design and online marketing are both an art and an a science that takes many years to master, and really is best left to a professional, if your business relies on its performance. Then you are free to focus on the high value skills that you specialize in and that actually make you money.
Hiring a professional is cost effective, and they will have professional tools and a tried and tested methodology that consistently generates results for their clients. Its really no different than why a person calls any service company, including possibly your company. They will do the job better and faster with longer lasting results. Quite simply, hiring a professional will save you time and stress, and ultimately make you more money.
It’s simple, really: People today get information from websites, and make most of their purchase decisions based on them and the reviews and recommendations they find online. To not have a website means you’re missing out on telling the majority of people in your area about your business. That’s a lot of money being left on the table. For all the time, expertise, and money you have invested in your business, why fall short on one of the most important parts of the equation, your marketing? You may think you cannot afford marketing, but the reality is you cannot afford not to market. Sales drive your business, and marketing drives sales. Marketing is not an optional expense if you value you the livelihood of your business, especially in the beginning years, when you must be so frugal with your expenditures, and focus on spending that actually drives sales. There are fewer things worth the investment than getting your phone to ring, or getting people to and shopping on your website. Remember I said earlier that the average company in America goes out of business in 4 years. Do you want your business to be average?
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