According to a 2017 survey conducted by Clutch, 29% of small businesses don’t have a website.
This may not seem like much, especially considering that a year prior, Clutch reported that as many as 46% of small businesses didn’t have one.
However, despite the significant increase in small businesses that have new websites, the remaining 29%—which is bigger than an entire fourth of the pie chart—is still a large number, a staggering 8,120,000 small businesses.
If you are part of that 29%, you may be asking yourself why you should bother with getting a website at all. Money is precious, especially in a small business, where modest funding toward almost anything in the office can make big improvements.
The answer is that today is the most opportune time to create a website for your small business due to the number of transactions being conducted online. In their annual survey, UPS found that 51% of all shopping transactions are being made online now, and this amount is getting bigger. That’s why tomorrow will be an even more opportune time to create a website, and then the day after that and so on.
The customer base is growing every day, and the sooner you get involved in it, the sooner you can start reaping lucrative rewards. But how exactly does a business website allow you to interact with this crowd?
Well, for one…
1. Websites Boost Discoverability
One of the greatest advantages a website brings to your business is allowing more people to stumble across it. For example, if 1,000 people walk by your physical business every day and just 0.01% of those people stop by to see what you offer, you’re getting 70 possible customers a week. Not bad.
The numbers are a lot different online. There are approximately 3.7 billion people online today. Let’s reduce that to a ten millionth of the original number because, let’s be honest, getting 3.7 billion people to pass through even 2017’s most popular site in one day is ludicrous. You’re left with 2,590 visitors passing through your website a week. That’s more than thirty times the hypothetical 70 cycling through your physical location.
2. Websites Build Credibility
People consume from sources they can trust. Google returns reliable search results and warns users of potentially dangerous sites, without spamming the user with obstructive pop-up ads or phishing schemes. Forbes publishes high-quality articles to the public for free and reserves extra content for users who want to subscribe. YouTube offers tutorials, informational videos, and entertainment completely free.
See a trend with these websites? Because these businesses offer loads of content, their consumers can easily learn what they’re about, and since the websites don’t exploit this cozy relationship, visitors feel encouraged to come back for more. It’s no wonder that Verisign’s study showed 77% of people feel that a business is more credible if it has a website. And credibility goes far.
More Consistent Sell Rates
To put this credibility in context, if you’ve shopped with online retail services or searched for a good place to eat, which item or dining experience do you usually spend money on? The one with a review summary of two stars and a handful of reviews or the one with nearly five stars backed by thousands of individual reviews?
If I had to guess, the latter is probably the more appealing choice. This comes down to a psychological effect called social proof, where people tend to perform an action if they know others are doing it. In fact, there was a study published in The Wall Street Journal where researchers tried to get apartment tenants to save energy by using fans instead of air conditioning. Researchers approached separate tenant groups, using four signs with different messages. They read:
-You can save $54 a month on your utility bill.
-You can prevent the release of 262 pounds of greenhouse gases per month.
-Using a fan instead of air conditioning is the socially responsible thing to do.
-77% of your neighbors already used fans instead of air conditioning.
Guess which sign got the biggest results? The fourth sign, which implied a large majority of people already switched to fans. It’s hard not to go with the flow; that’s human nature.
The quality of reviews is important, too. A single review may not tell the whole story about a given product or restaurant, but a lot of them added together come pretty close. When you have a website for your small business, people can rate it and leave written reviews of their experience so that other people can get an idea what working with you will be like.
With both social proof and high-quality reviews marking your website, people will have a much easier time seeing what you have to offer and trusting you outright.
Swelling Web Presence
As you regularly post good content, receive good reviews, and stay active in your niche, you might be in for something wonderful: other sites could start to refer to you. In this case, they’ll note your quality services in blog posts. If you release well-founded information, columnists will link to your work as a reference.
As your web presence grows, your customer base won’t be growing primarily from word-of-mouth. It’ll be from the audiences of content producers who have already built up large followings. In other words, your popularity on the web will benefit from their success.
3. Websites Allow You to Tap into the Mobile Market
Phone shopping is in right now, and it’s only getting bigger. In UPS’s 2017 Pulse of the Online Shopper survey, researchers found that 48% of mobile users make purchases on their phones compared to the 41% in 2015. In just two years, the amount of mobile purchasers rose nearly 10%.
What does this mean for your business website? If your website is configured to be mobile-friendly, you will have access to one of the most rapidly growing consumer demographics on the internet today. Tapping into this market is an ecommerce windfall.
4. Websites Give You Availability at All Times
Another benefit of having your business online, is that you have the unique opportunity to present information and carry out actions that would be either impossible or expensive if you tried the same thing in real life.
Easily Provided Information
Whether customers are purchasing products or a service, they like to learn about what they’ll get before they pay for it. In fact, minewhat.com found that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before shopping. It’s safe to say customers prefer making educated purchases.
At the same time, customers are also fickle. If they can’t quickly find out what they want to learn, it’s not uncommon that they could consult a more available competitor or lose interest altogether.
Where a website comes in handy is that you can put that information online and prevent customer loss. This is especially useful when your physical stores are closed or you are unable to answer the phone, since the internet doesn’t have closing hours. This information can include things like:
-What your company is about
-What products you offer
-How you carry out certain services
-Answers to frequently asked questions
Additionally, posting the information on a website allows customers to absorb what they want at their own pace so that they are more comfortable when they are ready to make a purchase.
Sell Products 24/7
If you’re a small business, chances are you don’t have the feasible funds or the staff to keep your business open at all hours of the day. Depending on the business, it may not even be worth the extra expenditure to pay someone to keep it open.
The advantage of having your store online is that you don’t need to have someone physically monitor or tend the website for all purchases. It’s an automatic process where customers can trickle through, buy their items, and exit the page. And they can do this at any time, which can open up your business to international markets that reside in drastically different time zones.
5. Websites Allow You to Utilize Webpage Analytics
Once you have a website, an indispensable tool you have access to is webpage analytics software, like Google Analytics. Programs like these allow you to track how visitors interact with your website—which pages they gravitate toward, which links get the most clicks, which countries your visitors are from, and more.
The more you know about your customers, the better you can curate your website to match their demand. For example, if the metrics show that customers tend to congregate to certain webpages over others, you can study what makes the most visited page so effective—or what makes the other pages uninteresting. Then you can start making appropriate adjustments to improve the webpages or scrap the needless ones entirely.
Or, if you find that twenty-five percent of your customer base hails from France, it may be worthwhile to hire a translator to add French copy to your site.
While we’re on the topic, we help businesses set up Google Analytics so they can start getting the rewards of in-depth visitor metrics. For more information on analytics setup, check us out here.
6. Websites Offer Affordable Expansion
Building a new store for your business can be expensive, with some construction projects costing as much as $50,000 or more. While there are certain benefits to opening at a new location, why not try expanding on the internet first?
Instead of investing tens of thousands on physical space, you can rent servers for a fraction of the price. And once you have a website, you generally have a lot of elbow room to add content before you need to rent more server space.
When you want to add more content, you can create another page to advertise the new lineup. When you want to have a sale, you can adjust all the prices from your computer rather than change the price tag for all sale items in the store. Quick, easy, and efficient.
In the End
In an increasingly digital world, the internet is one of the best locations to open shop. Whether someone is trying to find a store with good deals in their area or a job applicant is trying to investigate a potential employer, people on the web expect businesses to have some kind of online presence.
So if you’re one of the 29% of small businesses without a website, the question you ask yourself shouldn’t be, “Am I doing well enough without a website?” but rather “How can I meet—and then exceed—my customers’ expectations?”
Luckily, getting set up isn’t difficult. At C First Computer Consultants, our web design team experiments with various design formats to discover cutting-edge web development solutions. That way, you get a site that shows customers at first glance what your business stands for and how they can benefit from your services. If you’re interested to learn more, drop us a line here.