Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Small Businesses Should have a Website

A website is the most cost effective advertising media you can have as a small business owner. There is just no other media which allows you to reach as many people with exactly what you want to say.

Finding an expert to walk you through the process and develop your site is no longer difficult either. There are many individuals and businesses that can develop a professional looking website for you – just search the web for them!

Here are seven reasons you should have a website – no matter what size your business is.

Educate / Inform
One of the main reasons people use the Internet is to learn about products and services before buying. Your site could include a short company history, information about your staff / management, interactive maps to your location, testimonials from satisfied customers, hours of operation, and more. Your site should include a listing and description of your products and services. Websites are unique in the world of advertising media because you can include as much or as little information as you'd like – there are no size limits, circulation limits or image limits.

A well planned, designed and laid-out website will foster trust in your business before your customer calls, visits or purchases.

Your 24/7 Employee
Your website is working even when you are not. It is always available – days, nights, weekends, holidays... always.

A website allows you to provide your customers with the information they want without interacting with a person. With time being such a premium thing these days, this is a benefit to both the customer and you.

Including a frequently-asked-question section on your site is a great way to save everyone time and money!

Customer Communication
As mentioned earlier, there are no limits to what you can present on a website. A professionally designed site can tell your customers you care about them, they are important to your business – even without ever meeting them.

You can keep in contact with customers through newsletters and special offers. Keep track of customers and their purchasing habits with a customer tracking system. Track customer satisfaction with surveys. Using a good balance of these methods shows a customer that you are concerned about their experience – you are concerned about them.

A website also offers a means of consistently keeping your customers informed about sales, new products, changes in services, etc.

Lend Legitimacy to Your Business
A well designed, well functioning, impressive website gives a favorable first impression to your customers. It demonstrates an investment in your business and increases customer confidence, thereby increasing sales.

Well done, professional websites level the playing field – you may not be as big as the other guy, but your products/services, customer care, etc. are, and a professional website can show that.

Research Your Market
With today's analytical tools, you can discover a lot about your market and potential customers based on their web activity. It's possible to track the time of day you have the most visitors to your site, the areas these visitors are from (generally), what pages/products they are visiting on your site, and more.

You can include surveys, questionnaires, and other forms of feedback to discover whether or not your business is meeting the needs of your customers. Using these methods you can also anticipate trends in your industry.

Customers Expect It
People expect a legitimate business to have a website – period! Have you ever been asked (or asked someone else), “what's the web address?” If you (or your current customers) can't give a web address for your business, you just lost business!

It is also very likely that your competitors have a website. If potential customers cannot find a website for your business, it's likely you've just made a sale for one of your competitor.

Most Cost Effective Marketing Available
Many people turn to the web first when searching for a business or service. According to internetworldstats.com more people go on-line to find businesses than turn to the Yellow Pages and newspapers combined! The Internet allows you to reach local, regional, and international markets in a way no other advertising media can.

An Internet presence offers a better return-on-investment than any other media as well. The cost of developing a very professional website and hosting that site for a year is less than a “boxed” Yellow Pages ad, less than a quarter page, one week run in a local newspaper, and less than a 1000 color brochures. And after the initial development, your cost is even less each year. There is just no other advertising media that is as versatile and cost effective as a professional website!

One Exception to the “You Must have a Website” Rule
It's actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, "Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!" or it screams, "Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!"