Why your small business must have a website

The internet has changed everything. In almost everything we do, we use it.

. In these digital times, it has become the primary medium of communication, and it has become the principal medium for businesses too. Companies across the world rely on the internet to conduct their business. Although many small enterprises have joined the revolution, it’s thought that around a third of them operate without a website. Despite websites being easier and cheaper to build than ever, many small business owners see them as a luxury they can do without. However, no matter what size your operation is, having a website is now a fundamental requirement. Here are 5 reasons why your business must have a website.

Google is king

Whatever the product you sell or service you offer, customers are searching for you, and online is where they look. Google, the planet’s number 1 website has over 5 billion searches a day. People everywhere turn to it to answer all manner of questions on all manner of topics. This includes searching for products, services and businesses. It is all about finding what they need and narrowing down their choices, and if you don’t have a website, potential customers will not know anything about you or what you offer. And with 97% of people going online to research a local business before making contact, this is a market you ignore at your peril. They’re using their phones and tablets to make their choices. While they won’t find you, they’ll find competitors instead. You need a strong, optimized website which will rank high on search engine pages and drive traffic to your business.

Credibility

Your brand depends on your credibility. Customers looking for products or services to buy expect to be able to find you online. As much as having a proper business address used to instil consumer confidence in small companies, a professional website with great content now does the same job. Not having a website can send out very negative messages: that you are no longer open, are unreliable or simply don’t want new customers.  An easy-to-use site with useful information and strong functionality will make people take you seriously, secure customers and keep them coming back for more.

Marketing

There are many ways to market a business, but wherever your efforts are focused, you should not do anything else until you have a website. Everything you do, all that you offer, every message and every scrap of relevant information will find a central home on your website and having one needs to be the first marketing step you take. Your campaigns should then be designed to lead customers to your website, where they can find out more. A great website will answer their questions and should be designed in such a way to convert visitors into sales. An optimized and strong site will not only serve as the final destination of your marketing efforts but will show you in search results from customers who didn’t even know they were looking for you. Top content will drive these consumers to your website. Smart and incredibly cost-effective advertising. As you’re 100% in control of your website content, you’re 100% in control of your brand.

It promotes and sells your products and services

Your website is your shop window. It tells people all about you – who you are, what you do and why you are different. It reaches out to your customer base, making that vital first impression, engaging new consumers. It also makes your existing ones hungry to use you again. Well optimised and structured sites will build connections and brand loyalty. Not only does it give you the opportunity to construct a local community, but gives you reach far beyond. A website can be seen all over the world – allowing you to access customers, suppliers and even investors in a way a physical address never could. By setting up your site appropriately you’ve got a 24/7 operation that can process sales or book appointments out of your usual hours. Again, you’re in control – information and pricing can be changed easily and quickly.

Leads & data

A website doesn’t just generate sales, but it can generate leads too. However busy your order book is, businesses all go through lean patches. Attracting a churn of constant new customers will keep your operation humming along. By setting up an opt-in for visitors on your site (using something like a regular newsletter or special offers to make it worth their while) they’ll be keen to give you their email address. You can then build a database of emails – this will give you another way to reach your customer and the data you can collect (with their consent) will offer you key information and insights on how they found you, and what their preferences are. You’ll be able to make truly informed decisions about your marketing and sales.

Final thoughts

No matter what size of business you have or what product or service you offer, if you don’t have a website, you are going to be left behind. Creating a website is easier and cheaper than it ever has been. In 2021, businesses need a well optimised site that ranks high on search engine pages, full of useful and updated information. Having one will help your operation soar and give you the edge over your competitor set.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.