Websites have become something of a check-box item for businesses of all kinds and sizes these days. Business plan? Check. Logo? Check. Website? Check. So now your business is good to go, right? Well… yes and no.
Having a business is an essential marketing tool for any business, big or small, local or online, and across just about every sector. However, it is not enough to have just any website. In order to make sure that your site does everything it can and should do to support your business, you need a strong, effective and engaging website.
Here are 8 good reasons why your business needs a strong website.
- Consumers Live and Breathe Online
- Your Site is Your Online Business Card
- Your Site Could Expand Your Customer Base
- A Good Website Can Build Customer Relationships
- Strong Websites Have Great ROI
- Your Site Tells People Who You Are
- It is a Springboard for Other Marketing Tactics
- It Goes With Your Customers Everywhere They Go
1. Consumers Live and Breathe Online
We truly are living in an online age. According to a 2019 report from Hootsuite and We Are Social, globally, people are spending an average of 6 hours and 49 minutes online each day. The figures are significantly higher in certain countries: Indians spend 7 hours and 47 minutes online daily, Brazilians 9 hours 29 minutes and Filipinos a staggering 10 hours.
Not only this, but consumers are increasingly relying on the internet for products and services: they are shopping online more and, most critically, they are searching for businesses online. When people want to find a new product, service or business, whether a local, long-distance or purely digital product, they overwhelmingly turn to Google. One study found that 97% of consumers reported having searched for a product or service online at least once in the last 12 months.
Put simply, customers are looking for businesses online, so if you want them to find you, you’d better have an online presence. Furthermore, you need your online presence to be as strong as it can be in order to capture as many of these potential customers are possible. A strong online presence at its core means have a great website that will convert visitors to customers, and a way to drive those visitors to your site in the first place.
Well explore who you can use your site to convert visitors to sales later, so let’s just touch briefly on how you can drive visitors to your site. The number one thing you can do to bring more traffic to your website is SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a complex topic, one which could fill many articles in and of itself.
However, at its core, SEO comes down to two key aspects:
1) Relevance – show Google that your site is relevant to your target markets’ searches by using the right keywords (which you have identified through thorough keyword research) and use them repeatedly on your site, and particularly in the most important places like headings, page titles, and URLs.
2) Authority – demonstrate to Google that your site is reputable and the information is solid by taking care of technical aspects such as site speed and site security, as well as having plenty of links to reputable sites, and preferably quality external links back to your site.
There are many more complicated and often expensive strategies to improve SEO, such as link building and content marketing for SEO, but they all essentially relate back to these two principles.
2. Your Site is Your Online Business Card
Remember the days when salespeople and business owners would always carry a stack of business cards around with them and hand them to everyone they met? Probably not – but trust us, this used to be a key sale and marketing tool. These days, websites have taken on the role of online business card: they introduce your business to potential customers and other contacts, and they tell everyone how they can get in touch with you and, hopefully, buy your product.
In fact, your website, if you use it the right way, can be more than just a business card. It can be your brochure, your portfolio, your catalog, and more. This is why having a strong website is imperative. If you choose to have a very basic site with minimal information, if you skimp on the design, or if you choose to keep using an old website long past its use-by-date, you are doing your business a disserve and missing out on many valuable opportunities.
By a “strong”, website, we mean one which is:
- Visually appealing, impactful and engaging
- User-friendly and encourages visitors to spend time exploring your site
- Contains important information about your business, products and/or services
- Represents your brand
- (perhaps most important of all) converts visitors into customers
The layout, format, the information you include and the volume of information you should have on your site will vary depending on your business. However, at a minimum, your site should include at least an overview of the products you sell or the service you offer, a basic introduction to who you are as a business, and information about how customers can get in touch with you.
3. Your Site Could Expand Your Customer Base
As we’ve seen, the vast majority of consumers turn to search engines when they want to find new businesses, products or services. This represents a ready pool of potential customers, waiting for you to tap into them and expand your customer base. Furthermore, online marketing represents the opportunity to reach new and diverse target groups that were previously out of reach for many types of businesses. This could be customers in new geographical locations or covering new sectors or age demographics.
Again, this will only be effective if you have the right kind of site. You need a website that will not only bring in web traffic through SEO as well as organic methods but converts these visitors to customers once they get there. This is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in.
Like SEO, CRO is a very broad and complex topic, but broadly speaking, it is about persuading your site visitors to take a vital next step when they land on your site, which will put them on the road to become your customer, rather than clicking away and being out of your life forever. This step could be directly purchasing a product, but depending on your business and your site, it could be something like submitting a quote, booking a discovery call or signing up for your newsletter. This step will be different for every business and is something that you should clearly define as part of your marketing strategy and before you build your site.
Sites that support a strong rate of CRO, in general, are:
- User-friendly and with a good site speed
- Tailored to your target customer
- Clear, simple, and not overly busy
- Have strong, attention-grabbing calls-to-action (including animated buttons and similar), and lots of them
- Have all the key details that visitors are looking for, and no superfluous information
4. A Good Website Can Build Customer Relationships
Websites are not just an electronic brochure or the venue for your sales funnel which converts visitors to customers. Yes, they can and should be all these things, but they can also be much more. Your website provides the platform for you to build strong lasting relationships with your customers.
Customer relationships matter, and building and strengthening these are one of the best things you can do to ensure the long term success of your business. Securing returning customers makes an overwhelming business sense: it takes a much lower investment to get a repeat sale from a previous customer than to find new customers. Therefore, it is critical that you hold on to the customers you have a encourage them to continue to buy your products and services.
Your site can be a very effective way to do this. When used well, a website is a great tool for building relationships with your customers. Having strong customer relationships will make it more likely for those people to continue to be your customers. For example, you can publish a regular blog on your site. If you make your blog informative, insightful, and deeply useful to your customers, they will regularly read your posts. In time, they will come to rely on the information you provide, greatly strengthening your relationship with them.
5. Strong Websites Have Great ROI
Compared to many other expenses in your marketing budget, and business expenses in general, building a website has a low price tag. However, a strong site will deliver much in terms of leads, sales, and profits, meaning this has represented a phenomenal ROI. The cost of building a website will vary greatly depending on your designer, as well as the size and type of site you want, but in all cases is quite reasonable considering the returns it yields.
These costs are even more reasonable if you decide to build your website yourself. The best website builders let you build a professional website that drives traffic to your site and converts them to customers, even if you’re not an experienced web developer. There are a large number of website builders currently available, meaning it can be hard to know which one to use.
Here is a brief overview of the most popular website builders at the moment:
- Wix – Arguably the best all-round website builder, great for beginners, lots of templates but with customizable options, great value for money
- WordPress – The most popular website builder by volume, can be a little tricky to use, lots of customizable options and plugins.
- Squarespace – very sleek and sophisticated designs, great for creatives, more challenging to use, more expensive.
- Weebly – very user-friendly, also great for beginners, does not allow a great deal of creative freedom.
Of course, this only applies if you have a good website. If you have a basic or lackluster site that doesn’t do anything for your business, this will mean that it delivers zero returns, and even in the case a very small investment, this will mean a zero ROI.
6. Your Site Tells People Who You Are
This applies not just to your customers, but to anyone in your network: suppliers, competitors, and others in the business community. A good website will represent your brand, and showcase this to your customers and other site visitors.
It is important that your website is carefully designed to reflect your brand because this is the first impression people will receive your business once they find you online. If you fail to this well, it could be the last and only impression they get! Before building or commissioning your site, make sure you have a clearly defined marketing strategy that lays out your brand values and attributes. Next, consider how these elements should be reflected on your site and make sure they are implemented in every aspect.
7. It is a Springboard for Other Marketing Tactics
As we’ve covered, a strong website is a valuable and useful marketing tool. However, it is not just a marketing tactic in itself: it can also be used as a springboard to launch other marketing tactics. You can use your site to link to and promote your social media accounts, for example, helping to give these platforms more exposure and get more value from them. Easy ways to do this include linking to your social media on your site, as well as displaying a feed of recent social media posts on your website.
Your site is also an essential tool to support email marketing efforts, which are set to become a key marketing strategy in 2020. Visitors to your site are one of your best resources in terms of growing your mailing list, which you can easily facilitate with a signup box or pop up on your website. Your site can also host your podcasts, videos, and other powerful content.
8. It Goes With Your Customers Everywhere They Go
These days, smartphones are essential items: we carry them with us everywhere we go, and we are constantly vigilant to make sure they stay charged. This means that you have a world of potential customers who are essentially carrying your business’ information in their back pocket if you have a website they can access.
In fact, figures show that nearly half of the website traffic in 2019 came from mobile phones. This means that your customers are more likely to look at your site on their smartphone than a computer screen. This, of course, means that it is essential that your website is mobile-friendly. And by mobile-friendly, we don’t just mean that it looks ok on smartphones and tablets, but it is equally visually appealing on mobile devices as on a desktop or laptop.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post contributed by Tom Buckland.
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I am Yawer Malik, a digital marketing pro with more than 7 years of experience in promoting and marketing brands in the digital world. I love reading and sharing digital marketing techniques with the general audience. When I am not working, I travel to exciting places, play Foosball and swim.