Does My Local Business Really Need a Website? A lot of local business owners ask this question. Are you one of them? To be honest, it’s a valid question. A lot of small businesses ask themselves this. We discussed how web and local have learned to play together before in our article on Brick-n-Mortar Meets Click-n-Mortar, but today let’s discuss the actual benefits a website can bring to your local shop.
Let’s face it, when you own a physical store, if you are not selling online, it can seem like a waste of time and resources to maintain a website. And, for some businesses, I’m sure it would be. But, for the vast majority, a website would be a major game changer.
Even for a small “Mom-n-Pop” shop, a simple website could yield a huge return on investment. Even a simple, one page, website could boost your in store sales. So, let’s take a couple minutes to look at just how a website can benefit Your Local Business.
Doesn’t it Cost a Lot to Maintain a Website?
This is a common misconception I hear all the time. Back in the early 2000’s, it was quite expensive to build a website, and could get fairly costly just maintaining it. Simply getting a website on-line started at around ten thousand dollars, and that’s just the basics. Once you had to update it, get ready to drop another huge pile of cash.
On the flip side, you could spend a couple years learning how to do it yourself, and save a barrel of cash. If you’re like me, you didn’t have that kind of time.
But, times, they are a-changin’. Today, you could learn how to create a basic site in a matter of days. Getting good at it takes some time, but you could get something on-line in an afternoon. What’s better is, operating a website has never been easier. You could pay someone, a lot less than what it would have cost a few years ago, to get you going, and then maintain it yourself fairly easily.
The turnover of a website today, when I build one for a client, takes a couple hours. In about two hours, I can relay everything required to maintain that site, and I’m always available if they have a question here and there. All this can be had for under $1000 today, when simply setting up the basics was more than 10 times that much a few short years ago. Plus, it wont’ cost you a fortune to make minor updates. You can easily update, revise and modify the site yourself, usually in a matter of minutes.
In actuality, you will have a hard time ever finding anything that gets you a bigger bang for your buck than a website, and I will prove it.
The Customer Really Is Always Right
Perception is reality. For a business, your customer’s perception is your reality. I don’t care what your mission statement says, or how much you “give back” to the community. If you customer does not see you that way, it matters not a bit. Your business is defined by your customers’ actions, and their perception of your business will drive that action.
Keep this in mind when thinking about your website. How are your customers finding you? What are they finding when they do? What sort of impression are you putting out there? That impression will be the basis for your customer’s perception of you, and we all know how important first impressions are.
Having a website lends credibility. People are so accustomed to seeing a business website, if you do not have one, that is a negative in the mind of the customer. Is it a major downfall? Probably not, but why wouldn’t you give yourself every advantage? I know, you can add a lot of info to your Google My Business profile. The customer can find your address, phone number, hours and other info right on the search engine results page (SERP). But what if they want to know about a specific product or service? A quick click to a website could likely answer that question, but if no site exists, then a phone call is in order. For anyone under 40, getting them to pick up the phone, and use it to make an actual call, is like pulling teeth.
Customers expect a website. I suggest living up to those expectations.
How Can a Website Bring Me More Customers?
Now we are getting into the really good stuff. If you have ever asked that question, “Does My Local Business Really Need a Website?”, then you will want to read this section for sure.
Not only does a website lend credibility, and appease your customer’s expectations, but it can also bring in new business. The biggest way this happens is from Google Search. Yes, SEO is highly competitive, but you have an advantage. Google knows the location of the person searching, and they adjust results accordingly if there is a local option. This means, if you have a website, with a few tweaks to the code, Google will favor you over a big box store or an online option.
Yes, I said there would be some tinkering with code involved. This is where a professional will make all the difference. Your designer can add what is known as “micro data” to your site that helps tell Google exactly what things are.
Things like a Geo-tag, that gives Google your exact location without having to guess, and tagging items of interest so that the search engine will pick up on their relevancy, give the local business a major advantage. These things not only help your site rank higher, but when it is associated with your Google account, it will help to ensure you show up in the map results too. Give Google the information to help you, and they will.
How Do I Engage My Existing Customers With My Website
New customer acquisition is a must, but your website can also help you maintain a relationship with your current customer base. Think of your website as another piece of Real Estate. It is the virtual home for your business. You may do well with Facebook, Instagram and others, but the goal is always to get people to the website above all else. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.
First, the more traffic you get, the more Google sees your site as beneficial, and the higher you will rank. But this is a benefit for you. There needs to be an offer for the customer to incentivize him/her to come to the site. A discount, or some exclusive content, and then you have a win/win. They have a reason to want to go there, and you get the benefit of the extra traffic.
The main reason though, that you want people to come to your site, is so that you have a chance to offer them something in exchange for their email address. I would also suggest requesting this in the store, but that is another strategy topic for another day. The key here is to build up that email subscriber list. No matter what sort of business you are in, you need to be building a list. Email marketing is still the #1 method you can use, although some others, such as text messaging and social posting, are catching up quickly. We will discuss these other options on more detail soon, in an effort to stay ahead of the curve.
And the final reason you would want to have your won website is for content marketing. This can be quite time consuming, so be sure you either have the time to produce content on a regular basis, or you have a small budget to pay a freelancer to generate posts regularly. This serves two purposes. One, if you produce content that is valuable to your customers, they will come back regularly to consume your content. Also, each piece of content gives you that many more chances to be found in Google. One person I’ve worked with has a site that performs so well, 3 of the top 10 links, for certain keywords, are links to their site.
Why WOULDN’T You Want a Website for Your Small Business?
I hope that, after reading this far, you can easily see that the benefits of having a website far outweigh the costs involved. The truth is, in most cases, you cannot afford to NOT have a website. When you can have an awesome, mobile ready, site for a few hundred dollars, then pay someone about $60 a week to generate a new post for you, the site can easily pay for itself over and over again.
No, if you are ready to pull the trigger, and start your own website (or maybe redesign an existing one), visit our DISCOUNT page to see what current discounts we are offering. At the time of this writing (12/21/15), we are offering 33% 0ff our website design services and a year of FREE Hosting. This discount is ONLY good until NEW YEAR’S!