Back in the olden days, people got connected with small businesses by means of word of mouth, mail advertisements, and newspaper listings, but things are much different now and in order for your small business to succeed, it must have a website. Many studies have found that only a little over half of Virginia small businesses have a website, and this could be detrimental to them. For most of us, any time we hear of a product or service or see an advertisement for something we’re interested in, we immediately research it on Google (or Bing, if that’s your thing) and try to find out more. If the small business has a website, it’s usually the first thing we click on so we can review the products and/or services offered. Among many others, to reach customers, your small business must have a website for the following reasons.
Get New Customers
First and foremost, the most obvious reason that your small business should have a website is because it is a way for new customers to find you. Even if your small business has a solid existing customer base, it never hurts to get more business. Search engine optimization (SEO) tools can help you reach more customers when they search for your website or what products and services you offer, meaning more people are directed to your website first. Knowing how to manipulate SEO and use it to your advantage is critical to getting your website to show up at the top of search browsers’ results lists for new customers.
If you have a great website, visitors might get hooked and decide to purchase something from you. If you don’t have a website, customers are not able to see what you’re selling and reach out to you, so your business may get overlooked by numerous potential customers.
Provide Ways for Customers to Reach You
A website not only allows you to connect with customers, but customers can also connect with your small business via a website. Typical “Contact Us” pages have an address, phone number, fax number, and email address so that new and existing customers can contact the business using their preferred method. Of course, this is important because many people these days would rather prefer documented, email communication instead of a phone call. If you don’t want a bunch of spam emails, your website may be able to get a “Contact Form” that customers can fill out instead of emailing you directly. Many websites also have their contact information in the headers or footers of every page, making it easily locatable for customers.
Look More Professional
In general, today’s consumers simply expect that a business – regardless of its size – will maintain a website; therefore, your small business automatically looks more professional if it has one. Consumers interpret businesses with a website as more credible than those without websites or those that only use some form of social media like Facebook or Twitter. While social media is a great way to reach customers, it is also controlled by those specific companies. Having your own website lets you control all of the information and the layout.
You also want your small business’s website to be fast and reliable, as some studies have shown that users form an opinion about a small business around 0.05 seconds after it loads. Along the same lines, websites that take longer than a few seconds to load are oftentimes exited and not visited at all. Making a good impression is critical to gaining and maintaining business, so ensuring you have a website that is fast and professional can guide customers towards choosing your business over others.
A website allows you to show that your brand is unique and you can also post accomplishments, awards, or certifications on your website to show that your small business is trustworthy and you have experience. This includes professional licensing information if applicable (e.g. Bar license number for attorneys, landscaping certifications for yard work, etc.).
Be Better Than Your Competitors
Not only can investing in a high-quality website can make your small business seem more credible, but it can also help you stand out amongst your competitors. For obvious reasons, we are all normally willing to trust a company with a well-established website instead of one with very few details, typos, and a plain layout. Maintaining a website for your small business can immediately draw customers to your business instead of someone else’s, which therefore increases the likelihood of you gaining a new customer. A website can establish your place in the industry and allows you to show how your small business is superior to your competitors.
Show What Your Business Offers
Of course, a website can also help you show off what products and services your small business offers. It is a well-established fact that most people these days do research before buying any product or service. Customers who are searching for something specific may be directed to your Virginia business’s website and may find what they are looking for or even a different product or service they are more interested in. Customers always appreciate explanations and descriptions of everything you’re selling, so thoroughly laying out what each and every one of your products or services is can make a very good impression and may lead customers to choosing your small business over others.
Showcasing everything you sell also eliminates customers having to make an obligatory trip to your store (if applicable) to look at everything in person. A website also allows you to sell everything online, and you may be able to entice customers with deals such as free shipping or BOGO deals for online sales.
Display Current Customer Testimonials
These days, we all go looking for reviews before selecting a small business to buy from. Other people’s experiences heavily influence whether or not we will even consider buying from that business, and a website can allow you to showcase customer testimonials that may convince potential customers to choose you. Of course, you do not have to go overboard with these and can make them a running footer or a small part of each page, but showing potential customers that your products or services are legitimate and highly rated can be critical for your small business.
You can see why having a website is an absolute must for your small business, but many small business owners claim that setting up and maintaining a website is too time consuming and expensive. This, however, is far from the truth, and marketing methods of the past are now pricier than an online presence. There are countless ways to create a website for your Charlottesville business, and some of them are even free of charge and will help you get your website up and running. Of course, props to you if you are tech savvy and can build out an entire website on your own, but there are also professional freelancers and companies that will help you do so for a fee. Creating a website can be done within a few hours, so if your small business doesn’t have a website yet, it’s definitely time to get one for it.