Underestimate the power of a website at your own peril.
It’s easy to be lulled into social media’s false sense of confidence. People waste hours every day scrolling through platforms and so it makes sense to pour all of your small business’ marketing dollar into them, right?
According to research, 85% of consumers shop online before making a buying decision. Can you afford to give up on 85% of your potential customers?
A strong online presence is critical in today’s wired world. It not only puts your business where shoppers go before they buy, but a well-designed website populated with customer-centric content and images adds credibility. And customers who believe in a brand engage with that brand, which is Competitive Advantage 101.
Those are the topline reasons your small business should invest in a professionally developed and maintained website. Here are some others.
Access to More Actionable Data
Data drives business, and successful businesses that know how to wrangle understanding out of the flood of digital information are winners.
Data tells you about your customers, provides insights into the effectiveness of your marketing channels, and analyzes your team’s productivity. Data enables you to make better decisions faster and with greater degrees of certainty.
Your website is a goldmine for data, and you have access to website analytics tools that convert it into meaningful intelligence. You can gather data on your customers’ behaviors online and analyze that information to improve the user experience on your site. This can contribute to more conversions, increased sales, and better engagement.
Seven out of 10 consumers prefer personalized marketing messages, and businesses that use website data to customize the shopping experience realize a return of up to $20 on every $1 invested in the effort.
Aside from offering another personalized experience with your brand, your website has its own set of user data. Some of the key performance indicators you can track with a website include:
- Average session time
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
- Pages per session
- Traffic sources
- Qualified leads
Roll all that up and you can optimize your website for superior customer experience, which goes directly to that big ROI payoff.
Incorporate a form and invite visitors to complete it in return for a “freemium,” such as a downloadable PDF that is relevant to your business.
People love free stuff, and the demographic data you harvest from the form—everything from an email address to how they found your website—is grist for your marketing mill.
When you understand your target audience’s interests and pain points, you can design your website around those things to draw them in and increase loyalty and conversions.
Looks More Legit and Professional
This goes to the credibility mentioned above, but more specifically: What do you think of a business when you go online to shop and find nothing but its social media? Not everybody is on every platform, so what is that business saying to people who don’t have this or that particular account? We. Don’t. Want. You.
When a business doesn’t have a website—or has a non-responsive, overcrowded website—it raises red flags for potential customers. A level of legitimacy and professionalism is attached to companies that take pride in their websites. You could have the best products or services in the world but if your audience can’t learn more about them on your website, it’s almost like they don’t exist.
Complete Ownership, Unlike Social Media
News flash: You don’t own your social media presence. You have to play by their rules. Some set limits on image quality and product-description word count. And they change them any time they want.
With your website, you have control over the narrative and creative direction. You’re in charge of design and content. You can make changes to your site when you want to. You can also take advantage of unique website integrations that aren’t available on social media.
Unique Website Integrations
It’s not an either-or proposition. In fact, social and web work best when they work together. Businesses that integrate them enable web visitors to share content or follow a business’s social media pages directly from the website. This can help increase social media engagement and drive traffic to a business’s social media pages.
For example, you can set up e-commerce integrations to cost-efficiently expand your small business. You can connect your social media pages so that your feeds show up on your website. Chatbots are available to provide 24/7 customer service. You could also set up an integration that allows visitors to book appointments that are then synced to your calendar.
Drives Your SEO Efforts
An optimized website helps small businesses attract more traffic from search engines, attract a larger audience, and generate more leads.
Search engine optimization (SEO) allows you to tailor your website content to come up in relevant search results. A recent study on the frequency of local business searches revealed that 21% of consumers search for local businesses online every day. Further, 35% continue to make these types of searches multiple times throughout each week.
These are people who want to buy what you’re selling, but if they can’t find you, they are lost opportunities. To get them in the “digital door” you need a website that:
- Uses keywords specific to your location and industry.
- Anticipates their search intent.
- Links internally to related content.
- Procures backlinks from other credible sites.
Search engines don’t explicitly instruct businesses on how to show up high on their results pages. However, there are established trends that can give you insight into how to increase your chances of showing up to your target audience. Many small businesses make the mistake of focusing solely on location-specific terms. Adding content that applies to your industry or other, more general consumer pain points adds to your credibility in the eyes of search engines and potential customers.
Your small business still needs a website, even if your social media is booming and your email list is on fire. Even if you’ve grown a presence on other digital platforms, you need a home base for your business online. It’s a critical part of your customer journey. When your customers search for your business, products, or services, be sure they have a nice place to land.