Recently, my husband did a very sweet thing.
He heard about this small business which had just opened, and they were really trying to increase their number of customers (aren't we all ;)).
It was a business that sold hair accessories. He wanted to support them, so he went ahead and bought a couple for me.
But here's the thing...he was given the name of the business by his colleague, and he checked out their website first.
The importance of websites covers all aspects of your branding, marketing, and sales.
If you are a small business or freelancer, you may have put building a website on hold for a whole lot of reasons.
Maybe you don't have the time/ skills/ resources, or you think social media presence is enough for now, or you may be generating enough leads and customers (lucky you ;)), and you don't need a website.
Here's why you do.
The importance of websites for brand awareness
You see, when my husband had to know more about the business, he just Googled the name of the business and found the website.
What is the purpose of a website, anyway?A website lets the world know that you exist. Your social media followers can know about you on social media, sure, but by having a website, you are open to the whole online world. #brandawareness #branding Click To Tweet
You can include all the information about your brand, products, services, and yourself, on the website in a design and format that exactly suits you. You are not restricted to your social media profile for establishing your brand and your story, but can build an online presence that is much more powerful and in your control than social media.
And you open yourself up to a much bigger world, creating awareness for your brand with your target audience.
The importance of websites for visibility on search engines
When you have a website, your target audience, searching for something on a search engine, like how to solve a problem they're facing, and can land on your website. Even if they had not known about you before.
If they like what they see, they may tell others who may also be your target audience, who would also go and check out your website. Through search or a direct link. So you get a lot of website traffic and now you're more visible and present to the people who could bring you sales.
So optimizing your site for search engines is critical to the success of your business website.
You can also get more traffic to your site with advertising on social media or on search engines.
The importance of websites for information sharing
You have almost unlimited space on your website to put up maximum information about your business and brand.
Besides products and services, you can add information about your business background, legal details, privacy information, way of working, details about delivery of your product and service, contact information.
It is your online brochure, to share with your target audience everything they need to know.
It can also include helpful pieces of content that can help your audience with education or entertainment about a particular topic.
You cannot share so much information on any other platform except your website.
And think about it. If you want your audience to invest in you by buying from you, wouldn't you tell them as much about yourself as possible?
The importance of websites for brand love and equity
Once people have been checking out your brand and your social media profile(s) for a while, they would start engaging with you. They could keep following you on social media, going back to your website repeatedly for more information and value, hopefully for a great user experience as well, and start remembering you.
If you work on your website and branding consistently, your audience will start to build a connection with your brand and remember you. You can use your website to create elements that would help you build strong brand equity with your target audience.
The importance of websites for credibility and trust
In my first example, after my husband checked out the website of the small business, he was satisfied that it was genuine. It was a good website, with a lot of information about the products and the owners, an authentic brand story, an office address and a phone number. Even the social media profiles of the owners looked genuine.
And he felt comfortable ordering from them, even though he had never met these people. He told me later, he would never have bought anything from them, because they are so small, by just looking at their social profiles.
Even when it comes to hotels, for example, you may find a hotel on booking.com. Would you book it, if it didn't even have a website? Would you trust it? I never do.
So your website helps you build credibility and gains the trust of your audience and customers. Trust in the end is what makes businesses grow and prosper.
The importance of websites for 24x7 availability
Your customers and target audience don't have to be limited by any time restrictions to know more about you, no matter where they are based.
They can check out your information and endorsements at any time.
The importance of websites for endorsement
In the example I mentioned above about my husband wanting to support a small business, a big factor that worked in his purchase decision was also reviews of women showing how they used the hairbands and how much they loved it. Real, authentic pictures by authentic people.
And since he doesn't know anything about hairbands, he just trusted what other people have to say.
Who buys anything nowadays anyway, whether it be a product or service, without looking at reviews? Your website is one of the best ways to display your customer testimonials.
Also when people recommend your business to others, they just text them the URL of the website and leave the website to do the rest of the talking.
The importance of websites for optimum use of resources
Recently I ordered a cake for my son at a bakery, and chose that one as someone recommended them to me. But this bakery only had a social media profile with some images, no website.
I needed a specific kind of cake: a car-shaped one because my son is obsessed with cars, and I had no idea if they made that kind of cake or not. Also, what would be the price? What kind of flavors was possible? How much time in advance would I have to order?
So the bakery owner and I exchanged a ton of messages going over these details. In fact when I contacted her, she first sent me all the images of car cakes she had done before. Then she told me the details one by one. Only if she had put up all this information on the website, that would have saved so much time on both our sides!
Here's the cake...my son loved it 😉
If your target audience can know everything about you from your website, all details, including products/ services, brand story, your profile, contact information, then they don't need to contact you for any more details.
So you don't need to spend your valuable time providing information one by one on social media or hiring someone to answer these questions. You save money, and you save time which you can use to run your business better.
The importance of websites for leads
You can use your website to convert your website visitors to leads through popups, email marketing, a CRM tool, or any mix of the above.
It's just like if people entered your retail store or office, and left after giving you their business card and permission to be contacted. You cannot do that on social media.
The importance of websites for opportunities and sales
In today's world, your customers can come from anywhere. If you sell physical or virtual products through your website, then you can get customers potentially from anywhere in the world.
The same goes for service businesses that can work online. As a consultant, I get contacted by people all over the world, people who found me through my website. These are opportunities that I would not get if I didn't have a business website.
The importance of websites for professionalism
It costs a bare minimum to set up a website, just a few dollars. Just buy a cheap domain name from Namecheap, get a reliable web host like Siteground, Bluehost, Hostgator, or WPEngine, etc., install WordPress (for free), and you're good to go.
Bluehost, for example, you can get a website for as low as around $3 a month.If you want to be taken seriously by your audience as a credible brand or business, you have to take yourself seriously and get a website. If you don't make this tiny investment for your business, what brand message are you sending… Click To Tweet
When you have a website, you show up as a professional brand to reckon with, rather than a small office somewhere lucky to be able to see products/ services for a few dollars.
The importance of websites for analytics
With tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel, you can get a detailed understanding of who visits your website. You can know their age groups, gender, other interests.
You also know which pages they visit, how long they stay. In other words, which page/ content is relevant for them. If they leave you their business email, you can even know which types of companies they work for.
All of this information helps you create better marketing strategies and take the right decisions.
The importance of websites for customer support
One of the most impactful ways a brand can stand out is by providing excellent service and being there for its customers.
If your business has good customer service, you can build a very loyal customer base who will stick with you. And repeat customers can spend up to 300% more on your brand.
Your website is an excellent platform to interact with your customers and answer their questions. Most marketing platforms nowadays provide a chat option. You can also put up a FAQ section on your website to answer your audience's questions.
Otherwise, you can share your contact details and/ or social media profiles on your website and your audience can choose to reach you through the forum they are most comfortable with.
The importance of websites for showcasing your value
A website is a fantastic platform to share your portfolio or case studies about the work you've done and the results you've achieved. And this is not just limited to service businesses.
You can also share the results of a product you've launched, whom it is popular with, and why it did so well. This also goes towards building your credibility.
The importance of websites for personalization and increase in purchases
You can create a membership website giving your customers a chance to create their accounts and store all their data and interests.
It gives your customers access to all their previous orders, their wishlists, their previously downloaded resources. It also helps increase purchases by giving you a chance to send abandoned cart emails. Almost 30% of these lead to a sale.
If you've been thinking "do i need a website for my business", remember that ultimately, your website is your #1 marketing, communication, and sales tool.
Of course, no matter how many advantages or benefits a website has, it alone is not enough to drive business growth. Nether is advertising or social media. In fact, it should be a hybrid model. You need a website to host your brand and business details as mentioned above. Then you need social media or advertising or both (plus backlinks) to drive traffic back to your website and make a sale/ generate a lead.
Do you have any other points to add, about the importance of websites for small businesses? Or any comments? Would love to hear from you!
Got any questions about creating/optimizing your website?