A recent post on FitSmallBusiness.com had experts talking out the pros and cons of owning and using a company credit card. One of the people polled brought up a good–and seldom recognized–reality: merchants who feel they don’t need a credit card are missing the point. Needing a credit card today isn’t as important as understanding that you might need it in the future, at which point it will be harder to attain.
That thinking can be translated to websites, as well. As of second quarter of this year, over 35% of small, local businesses did not have a website. Like all, statistics, of course, the numbers can be misleading: a family farm in Montana or a child’s sidewalk lemonade stand in Ohio could both be considered small, local businesses. Obviously, their need of a website is limited. As much as the internet permeates our culture, it’s important to remember that not everyone is wired.
At the same time, those numbers represent a tremendous opportunity for merchants who DO have a digital presence. Think about it: when you have a need for something you can’t really buy online–a local restaurant is a good example–where do you look? If you’re like 85% of consumers, you’ll try the internet first. And of those who do look online, a whopping 97% of them will check digital reviews as part of their search.
For small or local businesses in particular, an online presence is crucial for attracting a loyal audience and growing over time. It’s also a great way to snag visitors from out of town who need to purchase something locally–again, the restaurant is a good example.
Need more reasons? How about …
It’s like having a showroom open 24/7.
As finding and buying products online increasingly becomes the norm, having a website that showcases your products and services is important. Consider a type of window display–one that customers can visit and research, whether you’re there or not.
The majority of people are still making retail purchases in-store, not online. But that doesn’t stop them from leisurely browsing your website at 3 a.m., taking notes and jotting down item numbers when they have insomnia. And there will be some customers–maybe from the other side of the world–who may decide and make an instant purchase.
It can boost your business’s credibility.
Having a website reassures users that your business is legitimate right up front. It makes a merchant seem established and credible–ironic, given how transient the web is in general–and gives you an opportunity to expound on the value of doing business with you.
You can also explain how your product or service works, introduce pricing options, and make other points–to as many people as want to log on. Better yet, you can add testimonials from existing customers: talking about yourself isn’t nearly as powerful as having others talk about how much they appreciate you!
It can jumpstart a digital marketing strategy.
A merchant’s website is the cornerstone of an effective digital marketing strategy. It’s more or less your home-base on the web, were customers can go to find information about your business, products, and services.
While you can–and should–create a Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Instagram page for your business, a social media presence is just one step of the process. The more you rely on external platforms to build digital visibility, the less control you have of your brand’s online reputation. Plus, third-party sites give you limited ability to collect customer information. From your own site, you can offer customized coupons, email contacts, and more.
So are websites a worthwhile investment for small businesses? Absolutely! Your website is your key to being found online, connecting with customers, and providing customized marketing. And the cost might not be as much of a burden as you expect. Here at Spilled Milkshake, we have different tiers of service and flexible pricing plans to accommodate almost any budget. Contact us today to learn more.