Last week at SmallBizTrends I shared the statistic that 47 percent of small business owners still weren’t using social media because they didn’t feel it was important to their business. That post spurred a lot of strong comments, both on site here and on Facebook. Eventually the conversation went from whether SMBs should invest in social media to whether they even need a Website or an Internet presence at all.
I really wish we could stop having this conversation.
You probably know some businesses who are doing phenomenally well without a website. I do, too. But I often wonder how much better they could be doing if they took the time to invest in one. And when I say “website,” I don’t mean an electronic version of that brochure they’ve been handing out for the past 10 years. I mean a legitimate, well-thought-out site that is designed to inform, engage and convert their audience.
Here are just a few benefits that come along with creating a usable website for your small business. Let me know why you think it is (or isn’t) important for a SMB to have a website in 2011.
1. You stop being invisible.
I’m not trying to be flippant, but by creating a website you stop being invisible to the people trying to find you online. More and more studies are telling us about the ROBO effect where customers are learning to research online before buying offline. They’re typing their problems or needs into the search engine of their choice and are researching the companies that appear for those queries. If you don’t have a Web presence, there’s no chance of you showing up and you never even enter into their thought process. In 2011, you can’t afford to be invisible.
2. You help control your rankings.
While you can’t simply rattle off a list of search terms you want to be found for, you can use search engine optimization basics to help control where your site shows up and for which queries. By creating optimized content, building relevant links and creating a brand that customers want to engage with, you set yourself up as an authority in the eyes of the search engine and increase your chances of appearing for the right queries – the ones paying customers are using to find businesses just like yours. Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms.
3. You create another sales tool.
A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action. Sure, you can keep placing ads in the Yellow Pages and hope that word-of-mouth generates on its own…or you can build something that inspires it to happen. Your website is your home turf where people can go to seek out trusted information about your company and engage with you on a more personal level. Use it to build confidence in your brand and to give customers important buying information (and incentives).
4. You build authority.
Though the Web has been around for some time, it’s true that you didn’t always need a website to find your audience. It was a lot easier to market via direct mailings, Yellow page ads and local word-of-mouth. However, today your website and your social presence are the factors that customers are looking for when they research a small business. They want to know that you’re stable enough to have a dedicated Web presence. That you’ll be around tomorrow should something go wrong. That they can get ahold of you when they need to. By creating a website, you set up shop on the Internet and show customers that this is where they can come to find information about you, to read articles that you’ve written and to learn more about your company. All of these things build authority. Without a website, you’re at a huge disadvantage as a small business owner trying to speak to your customers.
5. You build an email list.
Even if you hate the Web, you probably still like email. I bet you even collect emails from your customers by hand so that you can keep them up to date on what’s happening in-store. Having a website allows you to do all of that better because it makes it easier, faster and provides even more incentive for someone to sign up. Create a site that users can trust and then use it to build your email list. Along with your website, that list just may end up being one of your strongest sales tools.
Those are just five important reason for a small business owner to create a Web presence. Why do you have one? Or why don’t you have one?
More in: Marketing 101
It’s amazing to me that in 2011 we’re still making a case for SMB to have a website. It’s comparable to making a case that all businesses should have phones! But alas, there really are SMB business owners that don’t get it, and probably never will. It’s called “Darwinism.”
Agreed! I would think that we were past the web site case and had at least moved to whether a Blog was worthy…
With #4 I would equate “authority” to “credibility”. Thus your site needs to have an attractive design and correct information. You don’t want to look spammy or you could actually lose trust and credibility.
A website is a crucial tool in the marketing toolbox!
Don’t forget to add a “Contact Us” page to give web visitors an easy way to contact your business. People are not going to the Yellow Pages to find your contact information, instead make it readily available on your website.
When creating a website for your small business you should also focus on promoting what makes your business unique to stand-apart from the competition.
Follow us on Twitter: @BopDesignSD
While it seems to me almost all businesses have a website, many of these sites are very static and “brochure-y” as Lisa mentions above. Maybe that and a phone number work well enough, but when it’s pretty cost effective to update and get blogging, businesses may as well jump in.
A dynamic, starter format for small businesses can be a simple template with a frequently updated blog. Where at first websites were all about the art, now design for conversion and keyword optimization has reached the same status. I would even say the importance of art/design is waning. Anyone reading this can download my “Business Blog Start Up Kit” at my website. In workbook format, it’ll take you through what you need to do to start blogging step by step.
Thank Lisa. I really like Small Biz Trends.
Can you send me your Business Blog Start Up Kit? No cost was mentioned, so I presume it is free.
Dear Ms. Delzio,
It is so impressive that you have designed a start-up kit to help a business make a blog. My question is, as you ask us to download it from your website, where exactly is your website?? You left no URL or linking info to your site.
Now as a business person what message does that communicate to me? Can I trust info from you when you leave out the most vital data needed to accomplish a particular task, personally, I would pass on your offer to make a business blog as I suspect there would be vital information left out that would in the long run be a disadvantage to me competitively. You really must check what your posting and make sure you are providing the best information you can. Respectfully submitted.
I personally sell a special service, “for small Business & StartUps” and I see every day that at first owners reject my offer but when they see our reviews they relax. For us is very simple, if you don’t have a website nowadays is like if you didn’t have a business card 10 years ago.
With the way the economy is now, how can you NOT afford to have a website for your business? More and more brick-and-mortar stores are getting online because they see a chance to increase their sales without increasing their overhead a significant amount. Why settle for customers in your local market when you can have customers across the nation, or even the world. The points you made only make the argument stronger.
A small business should seriously consider a website. People need to know a business exists in order to build a customer base. Also, it provides a wider presence than just being local. People from all over will be able to see the service.
Good post Lisa. I had no idea that a large contingent of small businesses had no website. Cost is probably an issue, but today’s sites can be very inexpensive.
Keep beating that drum Lisa ! I keep hearing “we’ve got a website” and “none of our customers are on the internet”. Well — it’s quite possible that folks can’t find that 1998 Frontpage antique on the internet. If people can’t find you, they are not your customers. Ergo: None of your customers are on the internet.
Good job Lisa 🙂
I agree wholeheartedly with you. As an online marketing firm, we are constantly explaining to businesses why they need a website – the HUB of their online presence. A new objection is that having free Facebook page can replace a website. But in our view everything should connect back to your home base, the website.
Another thing I will add is the common undervaluing of content. Not everyone is a good writer, let alone a persuasive marketing writer, so investing in help to create good, effective and optimized content is just as important as having the site itself.
Thanks for the article!
I know that some older, established businesses think along the lines of, “We’ve been doing fine 25 years without a website, why do we need one now?” Other businesses are just paralyzed by the lack of time, difficulty, huge number of options, or cost. My company, Onepager, tries to fix the difficulty aspect by making it easier than WordPress or Blogger for a small business owner to create a site.
Here are two additional barriers that may prevent some small business owners from creating a website. (1) Some owners are not comfortable with technology. This is common in some of my website clients. But if a business owner finds the right web designer, he/she can guide the process and explain the unknowns. (2) Cost – some business owners may think it will cost a lot to develop a website. But actually there are many great low-cost, professional looking options like WordPress.
Thanks for the post Lisa.
how many small businesses still don’t have a website? I’ve heard it is about 50% but I just can’t believe it. We’re in 2011.
With WordPress there is no excuse for anyone not to have a website. You can by plug and play themes to make your site look just about any way you want for not a lot of money.
Ilene Rosenblum Guttman
For many businesses, if the website brings in even one or two additional customers, it pays for itself! If you’re in business, you can’t afford NOT to have a website.
Absolutely a website is a must for a small business. you are more likely to get the work if you show much more information about you and your business. Customers want to know more about the services or products you offer.
This is a great article as a wake up call for small business owners to consider innovating and adapting to the Internet and social media presence. They might be spending money on a website, but actually, it is an important investment that has a great return.
I find it strange that the 47 percent who don’t have websites, look to the web if they want to find a business ? I post video’s of my work on You Tube, full films for free and business has increased by 100 percent. Direct link from my website.
Thomas | Website Design Durban
Small businesses should definitely have a website when starting up. Its a great way of promoting their brand and if optimised correctly can generate a lot of new traffic. It may take some time, but if you are patient the long term results are significant.
It really so. Today Internet is useful place to define your brand’s presence.
I’m writing from the future Jan 15, 2016: the reason I didn’t get a decent website back in 2011 is because they were so damned expensive – they still are. An excellent company in Georgia, Dynamix, makes Webby Award winning sites but they start at $11,000. What small business has that kind of money?
Absolutely agree with you. These days having a website is must. It also gives a professional look to the business.
Yes great explanation, every business needs to understand the power of online presence and branding for their Business, so they need a website.
A nice read. I think it’s good to get back to basics and find the benefits of a particular business activity. I found that most small business want a website because – you must have one as well as it must look good. Why? Most have no clue.
Same with blog and social media, the small businesses I worked with had an opinion that you must have one because everyone has one. Rarely someone asked “what do you get from it?” and “should I do it?”
I understand a lot of people are quite clear with why you have to have one, but I don’t know, I’ve always been a sort that tries to dig for info and understands why a particular business activity is done. Don’t think you need to know all of it but at least the benefits are quite important to be aware of.
The issue is most “experts” feed you with info – “you have to do this”. From my experience, 7 out of 10 people who are in the business of marketing tell you “you have to blog”. And 80% (from what I’ve seen, take me wiht a grain of salt) of small businesses have failed at it, left with a feeling of – “this doesn’t work”.
Blogging is quite a powerful thing if you ask me, but if you don’t know how or why – you won’t get the results.
Again, I like to fully understand some things in business and think it keeps the brain active. We all know that if you have an offline shop, location is a big thing. Foot traffic is important. But I like to dig deeper and see why it’s important (I know the answer to it is somewhat blunt), how it can be utilised and how important it is depending on the type of business.
Coming back to the issues with information, I don’t like the mention of “You help control your rankings” in the text. Most small businesses don’t utilise SEO nor have a good grasp on their rankings. And I wouldn’t state it just like that. Focusing on search engine rankings is a marketing channel and you have to know why and how to use it. (don’t get me wrong, I liked other points)
I am in complete agreement with you. Business be small or big, but without a website it seems like they are not well enough or stabled to provide good services. There are now so many companies that can help you with an online world.
I wouldn’t even have a business if it wasn’t for my website. I can’t imagine any business owner young or old who didn’t see the benefit of having one in these times. There are some great tips in this post as well. Most people don’t even see the benefit in proper marketing and search rankings.
A wonderfully in-depth article! It still leaves me shocked when I hear that over 50% of small businesses don’t have a website. After all, the data proves that it can be a fundamental part of a businesses sale funnel when combined with online marketing. Thanks for the article as always!
Harris H. Arku
If you have a business and there is no website it is like a cup of tea without sugar
It’s a bit out dated, but the principles still stand!
I own a digital agency with expertise in Web Design and Development, and I get questioned all the time about the “Importance” of a website. This article does a good job laying out the benefits, and for that I thank you. I always try to keep it simple. IF you’re not everywhere that your potential clients / customers are then you’re definitely missing out. A website is a crucial aspect / tool for any business. 🙂
I see a website for any business to be like a credit score; bad credit is sometimes worse than having no credit. It is not only important for a small business to have a website, but crucial for it to be good and user friendly. A lot of business get thrown off by the price of a professional website, but just like with most things in life “you pay for what you get”. Having a professional website could be the difference between a successful business or a failed business.
In Mexico still resist small, medium and large companies in owning a website of their own, they continue with a belief that with a Facebook website and their business is on the internet, or maybe so they say because they do not want to spend in a Website, Facebook feet is free. And the cost of the websites you find in less than 100 USD. And even if they rsisten to invest, this is a great misfortune for their business.
Many customers search for brands online. Having a website is a necessary first step to get found.
That is a good point that having a website helps people to find you online. Maybe it would be good to get a website if I were running a small business. It would also be good to have a performance reporting tool to check up on the website and make sure it is efficient.
I thought it was great how you said that by creating a website you ensure that more people can find you online. My brother recently started his own business that specializes in tinting windows for people’s cars. He may want to hire a company to help him design a website and a phone app for his company.
I agree that a small business should have a website when beginning. My sister recently started her own business. I’ll help her fond a web designer so she can get started.
My niece opened up a women’s clothing boutique last August and is considering starting a website so she can sell online, as well. I like you how said that people often look online before buying offline and that having a website can help you to provide information for your customers. When I visit her on Sunday, I’ll tell her about these benefits and suggest she look for website designers to help.
Thanks for such a valuable information. I am also a small business owner and working as seo executive at SEO agency. i know the value of website for small business. Thanks for sharing deep information about importance of website for small business.
Thanks for sharing such a comprehensive information. We are educational consultants in Mumbai and we know the importance of website for small businesses.
I see a website being like a credit score for any business; sometimes bad credit is worse than not getting any credit. Getting a website is not only important for a small business but also critical to making it successful and user friendly. A lot of business gets thrown off by a professional web site’s size, but just like most life stuff “you pay for what you get.”
Very valuable information, it is not at all blogs that we find this, congratulations I was looking for something like that and found it here.
I agree that a small business should have a website when beginning. thanks for sharing.
That is a good point that having a website helps people to find small business online
I went through your blog. Its an excellent blog, it explains the advantages of having a website for your business. I recommend this blog, if you want to know more about advantages of websites. If you are looking for Web Development services in Qatar, visit Trionix Global.
Well, Good Job I find this article is very interesting thanks for sharing the informative post with your experiences.
Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I m happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post.
Thanks for sharing the info on the website building. ita really helps me a lot.
Yes, I agreed. The website describes our business. Thanks for sharing valuable information. Keep good writing. Have a good day.
Wish to see much more like this. Thanks for sharing your information
such a great word which you use in your article and article is amazing knowledge. thank you for sharing it.
Useful info. Fortunate me I found your website accidentally, and I’m stunned why this twist of fate did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.
This article is wounder full. I like it. Thanks for sharing.
Nice article…Thanks for sharing information. Your article very useful.
Thanks a lot for this useful post. Very helpful and informative post.
Yes, If you want to grow your business online you need to have your own website. Website is an essential part to show your online presence.
Well explained. Thanks for the Post. Have a Good Day!
Yes, I agreed. The website describes our business. Thanks for sharing valuable information. Keep good writing. Have a good day.
We provide the best react native development company in Ahmedabad. We are a premium IT company in Ahmedabad, India that brings to the market leading and personalized IT solutions designed to keep businesses at the top of their game. Operating globally, we have clients in every corner of the world.
Keywords: react native development company in Ahmedabad, SEO company in Ahmedabad, Digital Marketing company in Ahmedabad
Oh my goodness! a fantastic article dude. Thank you However I will be experiencing issue with ur rss . Do not know why Can not sign up for it. Is there any person acquiring identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx
Awesome Stuff Lisa. Agree with all the suggestion particularly the email marketing.
Thanks for writing this blog and sharing some important and useful tips regarding smb website.
Thanks for sharing the information on the website building. It really helps me.
Thanks for sharing the information on the website building. It really helpful to me.
a very good article. Thank you
very informative post,thanks for sharing
This is a great article with lots of informative resources. I appreciate your work this is really helpful for SEO Marketers.visit us Upsurge Services
its a amazing n too socially for ranking my site . I’m glad for this
Thanks for sharing this information. I learned many tips from your blog. Well done! Keep posting.
Well-written! Thanks for sharing helpful information.
This article is intriguing and stunning. I am truly intrigued by your work.