Why your business needs a website

It is no secret that our world is technology driven, yet we are still finding startling results to recent polls. In a couple of recent surveys, small businesses are falling behind in the digital world.

According to a recent 2013 Yodel Small Business Sentiment Survey,

“many small business owners are still not adopting modern technology and marketing approaches.”

Startling still were the findings that over half of small businesses did not have a website. In fact, Yodel reported that 52% of small businesses did not have a website and 90% of them did not have a mobile-optimized website. [http://www.yodle.net/files/smb-sentiment-report.pdf]

This means that in a technology driven world where people can and do research about companies and their products before purchasing, small businesses are missing out on a very simple access point of information. Even if they do not have a full blown commerce website, the basic information about their company and products is being completely skipped.

This is not to be said, however, that any website is good enough. This might have been the case at one one point, but this is not the case anymore. Our technology driven world wants and demands more. Gone are the days where amateur websites are considered good enough. You need something that convinces people that you know what you are doing and that your product is good enough.

According to a 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by Myles Anderson at BrightLocal.com, only 5% of people surveyed did not use the internet to locate a local business in the last 12 months. The study also found that 37% of respondents used the internet to find local businesses more than once a month. This was a 3% increase from 2012.

Is your small business part of the list that was discovered via the internet? If not, what are you missing out on?

Having a website is not enough, however. In 2011, Myles Anderson conducted another survey and wrote an article about website conversion entitled: Simplicity Is Key To Converting Local Consumers To Customers. The findings in this study concluded:

“28% of consumers believe that a smart website gives a local business more credibility.”

[Myles Anderson, http://searchengineland.com/simplicity-is-key-to-converting-local-consumers-to-customers-107514]

That of course raises the question of what is a “smart website?” In 2011, the respondents of Myles Anderson’s helped develop this checklist:

  1. Do you have your physical address on every page of your website?
  2. Are your contact details – i.e. phone number and/or email address – displayed near the top of your website?
  3. Do you have a full list of services & prices on your site and is there a clear link to them from your homepage?
  4. Do you have a special offer on your website and is it clearly visible on the homepage?
  5. Was your homepage updated in the last 7 days?
  6. Do you have a blog or “latest news” section on your homepage?
  7. Does your website look better or worse than your top search competitors? (be honest here)
  8. Do you have at least 1 positive quote/testimonial from a customer on every page of your website?
[Myles Anderson, http://searchengineland.com/simplicity-is-key-to-converting-local-consumers-to-customers-107514]

    Today, many of these still hold true. Your potential customers still want to know about you and they still think that businesses have credibility issues. Fraud is frequent. Take note of the above checklist and see if your website could use some improvements. Now some of these are not necessary for a 2013 website, but they still should make you stop and think about your website.

    Now let us discuss what is more popular for building credibility for 2013.

    • Make your website look good but keep it simple. All too often you go to a website only to feel overwhelmed by what you are looking at. Remember you might be the business owner but this is not about what you like, this is about what will sell your products and services. This is not about whether or not you like the color purple, this is about whether or not the color purple is relevant to your products or services. 
    • Your website should be inviting and easy to use. If it is not easy for your customers to use they will not stay to look around. Your website navigation should be intuitive and clear. Your website should be so easy to understand that your customers can quickly discover what your products and services are and why they should use them. They should feel at home and invited to use your services or products.
    • You should use pictures that corresponds with your content. Your content should be clear and precise. Your pictures should be clear and precise. They should be cropped and edited as needed. Do not spare costs when your pictures are concerned. Show off only the best pictures where your products and services are concerned. 
    • Invest in a real logo. Take the time to brand your business. 
    • Put your address on your website. If you have a physical address, use it. If you do not have a physical address, put a phone number. At the very least, use an email and phone number combination. Please give your customers a way to contact you. 
    • Put a call-to-action on your website. Invite your customers to do something. You want them to use your products. You want them to visit your store. You want them to use your services. Invite them to do what you want them to do.
    • Include an “About Us” page and give a little bit of history about the business and the people that work there. People want to know about the business. People want to know about the people that work there. You do not need to go into every little detail, but give a little bit of information about how the business got started and why you are in business. What is the goal of the company?
    • Keep your website up to date. Fresh content is key to keeping your website from going stale. Update your pictures. Update your content. Keep it up to date. Do not let it go months or years without updating your website. This would be a good place to update your “Testimonials” and “Special Offers”. You do not need to put a “Testimonial” on every single page and in fact, I discourage that. Write a quick article about the products and or services in your industry building yourself a place as an expert in your industry.  

    There are a variety of ways to make your website look professional and make your business stand out from the crowd. The important thing is that you simply step outside of your comfortable “small business” mold and get one. Take a risk and invest in your business and get a website professionally done and see how it improves your conversion of local business. Remember that it takes a “smart website” to convert local consumers to customers, but first you need to get that website in front of the 95% of consumers that are looking for the local businesses in your area. Can you afford to hold out?

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