Over 1 in 4 small businesses don’t have a website. For those that do have a website, almost 1/3 of small business owners maintain their websites themselves but neglect essential site functions like being mobile-responsive, user-friendly design and relevant content creation.
If you are one of these business owners, you might be asking yourself, “why do I need a website in 2022?”, “I’ve got to where I am without a website” or “why update the website I have”. After all, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, offer a free and simple way to connect with customers and promote your business.
In a time where over 90% of customers search the web before making a purchase decision, your website has the best chance of being your prospective customer’s first impression of your company and detailing your offerings.
The pandemic led to a surge in internet usage and post-lockdown, many online work practices have remained in place. The internet is a place where sales decisions are made, deals are closed and perceptions are built.
There are ten compelling reasons why there has never been a better time to invest in a website. Let’s take a look at them.
1. It helps your Customers Find You
With good search engine optimisation (SEO), you get discovered when people search for keywords related to your business and its offering.
Search engine optimisation is the art and science of improving a website to increase its visibility when people search for products or services you provide. The more visibility your website has on search engines, the more likely it is you get enquires and sales.
While you can certainly optimise your social media accounts for search engines, having an SEO-optimised website is better. Why?
Because unless people specifically search for you by name on Google, they’re unlikely to find you. For instance, if you’re a car repairs business in Manchester and someone searches for “car repairs in manchester” on Google, your website is much more likely to show up in the results than your LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook account.
Additionally, for many businesses relying on social media to build their online presence, you may have noticed ever-decreasing numbers of people seeing your posts. Organic (unpaid) reach across all social platforms is falling all the time.
Depending on the social platform you use, currently between 2% and 9% of your following will be seeing your posts as feeds due to platform algorithm changes coupled with the saturation of social posts and adverts.
Organic and paid posts can still offer good value but competing against this background can be exhausting.
However, just having a website does not go far enough. Poor content, design, optimisation and usability issues will actively drive potential customers straight to your competitors. That could be a huge opportunity cost for many business types.
2. It Generates More Sales Leads
Once properly optimised for search engines, your website will start appearing among the search engine results for people expressing an interest in buying your products or services.
When used correctly, social media can be a powerful brand building and lead generation tool but vanity metrics of page followers, post likes and comments seldom correlate with the number of leads and sales a business generates.
Redirecting leads generated from your social media accounts to your website will usually produce more, better your qualified sales enquires. In fact, 30% of consumers won’t even consider buying from a business without a website. However, proceed with caution. Depending on which social media channels you use, adding external links in posts may restrict the number of people you reach.
You can overcome this by providing a website link in your social media bios or running paid ads. This way, you can funnel all the leads you generate from social media to your website, where people can get all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.
Of course, a website provides you the option of closing sales too if an online shop is added.
3. It Builds Credibility and Trust
Credibility elicits trust. Trust elicits more purchases and also improves customer retention.
84% of today’s consumers think a website makes a business more credible than those relying on social media profiles alone. Therefore, a website is an important tool for building your credibility as a legitimate business.
In today’s internet-driven world, people expect to be able to find businesses online. If prospective customers can’t find your business but can find your competitors’ websites, you will inevitably lose business to them.
On the other hand, having a website signals that you are a professional business that is committed to your craft. It demonstrates that you are invested in your company and willing to go the extra mile to ensure customers can find you and learn about your products or services.
Content marketing employed within your website to demonstrate “thought leadership” is a highly effective credibility and brand building tool. This is about producing content that positions you as an expert and a go-to person in your field. Content marketing can also play a role in providing valuable information at every stage in your customer’s journey.
Content marketing helps build trust whilst publishing customer reviews demonstrates you walk the talk, delivering products and services that meet or exceed expectations.
4. It's a Central Hub for Brand Building
Your website is the perfect place to build your brand i.e. the desired perception of your business in absolute terms and in relation to competing suppliers.
It’s a central hub where you can control the visual and written messaging you want to send out about your business. This is important because it helps you create a consistent brand identity that resonates with customers and is recognisable and trustworthy.
You can use your website to share your story, highlight your unique selling points, and describe your company culture. You can also use it to showcase customer testimonials and case studies. All of this helps you build a strong brand that customers will want to do business with.
Now, you might ask why you can’t achieve the same things with social media, and you can, to some extent. But there are two major problems with this idea.
First, as we discussed earlier, people outside your social circle may have a hard time finding your business social media accounts through general search queries on Google.
Second, you have very limited opportunities to tailor social media accounts according to your business and brand identity.
Your website, on the other hand, can be customised to reflect your brand. This can include a consistent colour scheme, typography, images, overall design and describe your unique proposition in a single medium.
Putting all the above factors together will give your business a distinctive identity that will help you stand out from the competition with the aim of achieving ‘brand preference’.
5. Support and Sell 24/7
In today’s digital world, there are no standard business hours as the internet is always open!
Websites enable your customers to find and learn about you and your offering 24/7. Even when you and your team down tools for the day, your website keeps working around the clock to secure prospective customers at a time that best suits them. And with ecommerce functionality, you’ve a 24/7 sales resource.
If your competitors have a website and you don’t, you are leaving your prospective customer’s money on the table for your competitors to collect.
6. Offers Better Customer Service
Your website can perform a number of customer service roles. Adding frequently asked questions (FAQs), support pages and tutorials to your website enables you to respond to those regular questions you receive. Offering online support is not just a labour saving, it offers many benefits too.
Within those responses you can add clickable links to relevant offerings in your website each culminating in calls-to-action (CTAs) to either place an online sale or raise an enquiry.
Demonstrating excellent customer service in this form also facilitates sales by providing a written assurance that potential customers will be properly supported before, during and after they buy.
Tutorials and written or video responses to FAQs are particularly useful when conveying complex information or when an enquiry response needs to be broken down into several steps for your customer to follow. It allows them to read, view and return to your response until they understand your message completely.
Offering answers to questions within your website also helps improve your site’s SEO. In August 2022, Google Search announced the launch of its ‘helpful content update’. This algorithm update rewards websites that offer a ‘people-first approach’ to answering questions raised in Google searches.
7. Engage your Mobile Customers
On average 60% of website visits originate from a mobile device. For certain types of businesses we work with this can be as low as 25% or as high as 90%. In either case, for high traffic websites, that equates to many new and returning customers.
However, of the three quarters of small businesses that have a website, 60% are not mobile-friendly or their owners do not know if their site is device responsive or mobile capable.
If your website is not designed for mobile devices, your mobile-using customers will either leave in seconds or you will be providing them with a poor impression of your business.
And that’s if they even find your website! Google requirements for Google Mobile Friendly websites is a ranking and indexing factor dating back to 2015 with Mobile-First indexing being enabled from 1 July 2019 (Source: Google). Within these requirements, mobile site speed is critical. Even reducing mobile site speed by just 0.1 seconds results in a bounce rate improvement of 8% (Source: HubSpot).
If your site has not been updated for years these will be among several reasons why you’re not getting the results you were hoping for.
8. Increase your Marketing ROI
There are a multitude of ways to increase your return on investment (ROI). In its simplest form, a website can help you generate more sales, increase purchase frequency, improve customer retention, reduce customer service costs and raise or maintain your average order values by justifying your pricing. If you can do this through a website investment that delivers a net gain in profits, you’ve improved your ROI.
Depending on the nature of your business, several years of website investment can even be achieved from just one or several sales.
If employed correctly, direct sales approaches, brochures, flyers, newsletters, and other mailings are still effective but poor targeting may adversely affect your ROI. Often you have no assurance that the right person has got the message or that it has been received at exactly the right time.
An optimised website engages the right customers at exactly the right time. That is – those people who are researching or ready to purchase the type of product or service you provide.
In more competitive industries, online advertising can often deliver quick results and an early ROI. Contrary to popular belief, online adverting using platforms like Google Ads does not need to be expensive. Using the pay-per-click model ensures you only pay for interested customers plus you have complete control of when you advertise and how much you spend.
9. Facilitates Overseas Expansion
Overseas expansion could help you reduce reliance on a saturated domestic market. It may give you access to new customers in countries where your competitors do not operate. Untapped markets offer the potential for more customers, increased sales, shorter sales cycles and the by-product of reduced operational costs.
Clearly there’s many things to consider when exploring new overseas markets such as appropriate market research, legalities, compliance risks, taxation, shipping, customs, currency fluctuations, cultural differences, and language barriers to name a few.
However, the world is becoming more connected as digitisation ramps up and technology evolves rapidly. A website can provide a perfect low-risk, low-cost platform upon to lead you into a global marketplace.
10. Your Competitor's Website Plans
We’ve discussed the advantages that companies with a website have over those that don’t. However, if you’re assured by the fact that one or two of your competitors lack a website too, don’t get too complacent. Research indicates that there’s an 87% chance they are planning to invest in their own website soon!
For those competitors with an effective website, your potential customers will continue to find them when searching for products and services online. If your business website appears in their search results, you’ve showed up to work and customers are left to choose between you and your competition.
Which search results your customers click on is determined by the ranking against the search term used, whether the URL and meta title includes keywords related to what they are seeking, whether the meta description encourages them to click through to your website and the type of result e.g. paid result (advert) or organic.
Customer and competitor insight along with available search data enables informed decisions on what to include in your website and what metadata you use. However, it’s important to note that Google algorithms will rewrite metas if your entries are poor or to better match customer search queries to your content.
Once customers click through to your website, engaging content, ease of use and an appealing design each play a vital role in your customer’s buying decision.
How Do I Get a Website?
Now that you know the importance of having a website, let’s talk about how you can get one.
There are two main ways: DIY using platforms like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace or hire a professional.
Sole traders are particularly attracted to the free versions of DIY platforms. By taking a free option like that offered by Wix you will have the message: “This site was created using WIX.com. Create your own for FREE”. Perhaps a cash-strapped business owner is not the image you would like to portray?
More importantly, there are huge drawbacks to consider when using DIY builders. Their bloated code and structure slows down site speed and causes other problems for search engines when trying to read your website.
It’s a major SEO issue meaning your website is less likely to be found online. If you do get found, nearly 40% of people will stop engaging with a slow website (Source: Adobe Consumer Content Survey). 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. (Source: Kissmetrics)
Other DIY website builder drawbacks include mobile responsiveness and customisation restrictions. They use close source code hosted on ‘rented real estate’. This means you or an appointed specialist cannot edit the site code nor move your website to an alternative hosting provider. Extending the website’s functionality and brand customisation of features, usually incur charges that could mount to a series of unforeseen costs.
You will not get professional marketing support either. This is one of the reasons why so many DIY projects stall or never reach the point of completion.
It is for this reason that it’s often better to hire a professional marketing company that offers website design services coupled with marketing support that’s customised to your needs. This might require a larger investment, but considering the points raised in this article and the convenience it offers, it’s worth it.
Conclusion: Do I need a website?
If you’re still thinking “should my business have a website?”, keep this in mind: the answer to your question depends on your business goals. If you’re looking to build a brand, generate leads, and establish credibility, then you need a website.
Social media accounts should be used to supplement your website, not replace it. If you are serving a local marketplace, creating an optimised Google Business Profile is also vital.
If you’ve decided you need a website but are worried that developing it will detract you from the time spent running your business, don’t be.
Our service does not stop at designing websites. We specialise in ‘done for you’ website design packages offering hands-on support in every aspect of your website build. This includes custom design, copywriting, sourcing imagery, performing photography, creating video content, maintaining your site and everything in between!