Are you a small business? Do you have a website of your very own? If you’re running through the list of excuses like “I don’t have time”, “I don’t know where to start” or “It will cost too much money to get a website”, puh-lease. It’s not the late 90’s anymore, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a cracking website up to claim your corner of the internet. Nor do you need to be a world-class coder or designer. There are so many affordable and easy platforms out there to build yourself a simple and effective website, or affordable experts who can do it for you.
Without a website, you’re not catering to your audience and will be left behind. The end. So, let’s look at 5 reasons you really need to create one – NOW… in case you still aren’t convinced.
*Pssst! This post contains an affiliate link. That means that if you click on it and go on to make a purchase, I’ll get a commission from the supplier and no extra cost to you. I only recommend stuff I like and use myself, though.
1. You’ll increase the opportunity to be found
I could stop right there, really. What’s the first place you go to when looking for something to solve a problem or fulfil a need that you have? Google. Guess what? So do your customers.
Google loves businesses who provide really great value to their customers with what’s on their website. If your website contains the exact things that customers are typing into the search bar, Google will rank you higher. Think of your website as your welcome mat for your business.
2. You can collect your customer’s details
An email list is another powerful asset as a business owner. A list of customers who have either bought from you (or have expressed an interest and therefore the potential to buy from you one day) is yours, all yours. No third party can take it away from you. You can take it with you wherever you go.
- You get to have a one-on-one conversation with the people in your database;
- You can use your list for research purposes;
- You can get direct feedback.
With many free and easy-to-navigate email manager options available, you can easily implement the ability to capture emails via your website so you can build those all-important relationships with your customers. Got a sale coming up? An awesome new product? TELL all the people on your email list directly – with a call to action to come and check out your wares. Your Facebook post isn’t always necessarily seen by your customers if they’re scrolling super fast or the Facebook algorithm decides not to bump you up that day… but with email, there you are sitting in their inbox, personalised and waiting to be read. That’s seriously powerful stuff.
Understand the human behind the sale. Profile your audience beyond demographics.
3. De-risk your business by taking control
If you’re just trading off a Facebook Page, imagine if one day they decided to change the rules on you, like, taking away business pages. Suddenly people searching for your business can’t find you. You’ve effectively disappeared.
Sounds a bit extreme, right?
Perhaps it’s just a tad dramatic, but remember, Vine had 200 million active users at one point – and Twitter shut it down. If the events of 2016 teach us anything, it’s that – FFS – some completely and utterly unbelievable things DO happen.
So, this isn’t a scare tactic, just practical, good business. Insert the “eggs in one basket” analogy here.
4. You could discover a new way to serve your customers
Picture this. You’re a cafe who sells coffee beans in-store. Create a website with e-commerce functionality (i.e. the ability to sell stuff through your site) and suddenly you have an opportunity to increase the sales of your coffee beans. Hello, new revenue stream!
Maybe you’re a gift shop and are starting to see a decline in your foot traffic. Well, a website to sell your wares from opens up a whole new opportunity to reach people who might never step foot near your store. Or, give customers the opportunity to browse your products before then heading into your store to buy.
Perhaps you’re a hairdressing or beauty salon. With a booking function, your clients can book online (reduce the number of phone calls which always seem to come through when you’re up to your arms in a head of foils).
Not to mention, you can learn a LOT about what people are interested in by what they’re clicking on (or not clicking on). This gives you the opportunity to tailor your marketing messages to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to – getting a sale.
5. It shows your customers (and the world) that you are the real deal
There are customers who search online and if they don’t find a) a website for a business and b) a good looking site, will dismiss the business. People will make snap judgements based on your online presence (or lack of) and decide whether they want to do business with you. And remember, people don’t just look up websites at home on the computer – they’re out and about looking for stuff on their mobiles, and if you’re there, you might just attract them into your store.
If you have a website, you also get to create the experience you want for your customer, and get to guide them to take the action you want them to take (make a call, book a service, buy a product, etc.). A great customer experience online leaves a positive impression about your brand – that’s what people remember. How they feel.
Alright, but how do you go about setting up a website?
You’re not a web developer! Well, guess what? Neither am I…. but I started with a website I made myself.
Try this: If you don’t already have a stand alone website, picture in your mind what it would look like if you did. Take a whip around the internet and see what your competitors’ and peers’ websites look like. What would you do the same and what would you do differently?
Here’s just one way to build your own website. Learn some new skills, have some fun and get building.
FIRST, CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME:
Check out domain name availability by just Googling it to start with, and then checking here @ namechkr.com.
THEN, SELECT A HOSTING PARTNER:
If your name is available – great! – you could secure it through a domain and hosting provider like Siteground* (the one we totally recommend and use). Their StartUp package is just $USD 3.95 per month and includes domain registration and hosting.
I’m going to avoid using the cup of coffee analogy here (strains not to be cliché).
In addition to great value, Siteground are serious about their 24/7 support, so you’ll always have help at hand if you need it.
WordPress is far and away the platform for websites. Here’s an excellent beginner’s introduction to WordPress from a good friend of mine. Basically, WordPress has a whole bunch of themes you can choose from which make it easy to build a beautiful website, without needing an IT degree.
Siteground makes it super smooth to get your WordPress website started and you can do it all through them. They walk you through the process with easy to follow tutorials.
If you find a website and LOVE their layout, you can find out what WP theme they are using by simply typing in the URL at http://whatwpthemeisthat.com.
Pretty much anything you need to learn how to do on your website you can learn on the internet. How good is the internet!!?
It helps to have an idea about how you want your site to look. That way, you can choose a theme that works for you and your brand. Refer back to what you pictured your website would look like, and what other websites look like that you really gravitate towards.
Sketch out the layout you want on paper (old school). You might want to even use sticky notes to be able to move different sections around.
There are heaps of fantastic web designers out there who can do weird and wonderful things for you. You might even already know someone who can help you.
Or, you ask right here and we can point you in the right direction.
So there you have it. Go forth and claim your corner of the internet!
Image Credit: NordWood Themes