So you run a small, local business and think you can rely on social media to get your name out there? This is something I hear a lot at Imagine Digital Marketing – and experience tells me it simply doesn’t work! In short, if you’re interested in growing your brand, you really do need a website.
A survey commissioned by web hosting company Go Daddy found that an astounding 60% of small businesses (with one to five employees) don’t have a website. Why is this? Well, there are lots of reasons why business owners think they don’t need a website. According to the survey, these included thinking their company was too small (35%), lack of technical expertise (21%) and lack of funds (20%).
Yet, when the researchers spoke to smaller businesses who do have websites, they found that 83% of them thought having a site gave them a competitive edge over companies without one. That’s a fantastic reason to have a website on its own. But there are plenty of others, too. These include:
1. Most people find products and services online
Think about it. What do you do if you want to book a holiday, order a book or find an accountant or book-keeper for your business? That’s right, you go online like everyone else. Of course, there are other ways of finding products and services. But according to Google, 80% of consumers use search engines to find local information, with a mind-boggling 3.5 billion searches every day.
In other words, there’s someone in your area searching for your product or service right now. And without a website, they may not find you.
2. Your customers expect you to have a website
Leading on from the above, people may find your business online because your Facebook page or business directory listings show up as local search results. However, a survey carried out by London-based market research firm, Taylor Nelson Sofres, found that 52% of consumers prefer to go directly to a company’s website. That’s compared to just 25% for social media pages and 22% for third party sites such as directories.
So if you don’t have a website, you’re losing out on over half your potential online enquiries. Scary stuff!
3. You’re in control of the content
I see not having a website and just using social media to market your business as the equivalent of renting a house rather than owning it. A website is an asset that YOU design, develop, manage, control – and own. Yes, you can personalise your Facebook and Twitter pages with logos, images and so on. But in reality, you don’t own the content and you can’t really control it.
4. Your website is the hub of all your marketing activities
A website is a bit like Rome – all roads lead to it (or should do). What I mean is that your social media posts, blog articles, and directory page listings should all support your website by driving traffic to it. The same goes for any online advertising you undertake, including Pay Per Click campaigns.
By coordinating these activities with a properly-planned and executed digital marketing strategy, you can improve your business search engine rankings. Prospective customers will be able to find you quickly and easily, and enquiries will start to come in.
5. You can optimise your site for local searches
If your business is location-specific, such as a shop or restaurant, you’ll want people in your area to be able to find you. You can use the meta information in the back end of your website, as well as the front-end content, to add in key local search terms. Your contact details, including a geographical phone number, address and postcode are important, too.
Get this right and your business could end up appearing in the coveted Google Local Pack – those map-based search results you see at the top of the screen when you search by location.
6. You can answer basic questions at a glance
When people are considering using a business, they want to know a few things upfront. Like your location, the range of products and services you provide, your pricing and how to get in touch with you. People want this information NOW. And the quickest way to provide it is on your website, at the click of a mouse.
7. Your business is never truly closed
A drawback of using social media is that you need to post regularly and spend time interacting with your followers to keep their interest. This is still an important part of your digital strategy if you have a website. But the difference is that the website is ‘always on’. People can find out the information they want about your business without having to wait for a response on social media.
8. Social media use is decreasing
You might be surprised to find that social media use is diminishing rapidly, especially on Facebook. In January 2018, Facebook announced that changes to how content is displayed have caused a 5% drop in use. That’s equivalent to an eye-watering 50 million fewer hours spent on the platform each day – and bad news if you rely on Facebook to market your business.
9. You can gain insights into your customer base
Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide a wealth of information about how people use your website. Whilst you’re no longer allowed to collect personal data under GDPR, you can still learn a huge amount about your customers’ online behaviour. For example, the search terms people are using to find your site, and which pages they’re visiting the most and least.
This information is valuable because it tells you what’s interesting and relevant to your customers. In turn, this informs your content strategy and wider digital marketing activities, helping you reach and engage more effectively with your target audience.
10. You don’t need to spend a fortune
There’s no need to spend thousands to get a decent website built. A small local business just needs a simple site that looks good; contains relevant, useful and concise content; and is well-optimised and regularly updated. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need to be a coding wizard to create your own site on a platform like Wix.
On the other hand, if you have a marketing budget, it’s always worth investing in professional web design and development, and perhaps copy writing as well.
Need help setting up a website?
You’ve come to the right place! Imagine can help with all your digital marketing needs, from strategic planning to social media management and content creation. I’d love the opportunity to chat about how I can help your business. Call me today on 01636 922 747 or complete my online form to book a FREE one-hour digital marketing consultation.