Last week I was thinking about how many businesses don’t have a website. Depending on what report you look at anywhere from 44% to 51% of small businesses do not have a website. When I saw this statistic for the first time I could not believe it. As I called a list of local dental offices I quickly found out that most of them don’t have a website. Now I understand how this website may actually be true. I was shocked. It made me think I should write an article on why having a website is important for small businesses if they want to get new customers, or even just keep their existing ones. This articles summarizes all of the reasons that came to me as I wrote the article. I am sure there are more, but these are main reasons that stick out to me. In my opinion everyone should have a website because they are so inexpensive and yet so effective, hopefully my article will help you in determining if a website would be beneficial for your business. Profit provides marketing services specializing in search engine optimization and website conversion optimization services. We Work. You Profit.
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93% Of Business Purchase Decisions Start With A Search Engine Search
In order to gain new customers you need to understand where your prospects go when they are looking to find suppliers, research suppliers and make a purchase. In today’s world the place where most people in most markets go is to the internet, specifically a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing. These search engines are the big three (in that order) and account for over 90% of all searches. Google is by far the biggest with about 6 of every 10 searches. To learn more about the market share each search engine has go to ComScore. With 93% of business decisions starting with a search engine search that means if you don’t have a website, you are only selling to 7% of your market. That is right, you are reducing the potential size of your business by 93%. I would suggest that the same statistic for consumer purchases is lower but still very high, especially for larger ticket items. The larger the item, the more research and shopping people will do. My guess is probably 40-50% of consumer purchases start with an online search.
If in today’s age you don’t have a website there is a good portion of the market that will not even consider you as an option when they are looking to buy. I know personally if I am dealing with a supplier I am looking to purchase from and they don’t even have a website I pretty much write them off as an option to buy from and my view of that company is diminished to that it is a company that is very poorly managed. With this viewpoint why would I want to purchase from a company like this? Based on my experience most people think similar to myself. There are some people that do not hold this same thought but I would guess that probably 80% of people have bad opinions of companies that don’t have websites.
Ease Of Access
Having a website makes it very easy for people to find you, read up about your company, what you do and answer a bunch of questions they have on your company. By having a website people will be able to find your company when they search for your company on a search engine like google, yahoo or bing. It is true that if you don’t have a website your business may be found in a search engine if you have a listing in a directory, the yellow pages or your business could just automatically show up in a google places result. Do you really want to leave this to chance though? Plus why not have a website so that you can influence what is displayed about your company and know your website will be listed in addition to having all those other search results. Which of the below results would you rather have for your company. Results like the first image or the last image?
I would prefer the results shown in the first image as the results for Harold Stecho Electric Ltd. don’t give me any enticement to contact them, very little information on what they do, any information on what value they provide and what makes them different. The search results for Profitworks are not perfect but they do describe what Profitworks does right below the first link. The links also provide links to two free resources, enticing people to click on the links and an about us link where they can learn more about Profitworks. I don’t use this example to criticize Harold Stecho Electric Ltd. I just used the first company that came to mind that I knew did not have a website. I know they don’t have a website as I tried to find their website the other day when doing some work for one of my clients.
Personally I would be hesitant to even spend time calling the results from Harold Stecho Electric Ltd. because the results that come up make me think they might be out of business. If I think this the case I usually don’t phone as I feel it would be a better use of my time to phone a competitor that I know for sure is still in operation.
A website also makes other forms of marketing so much easier. For example, as social media marketing continues to take off, being able to link back to a professional, user-friendly website with all the information the consumer needs is priceless! If you plan to set up ads, such as Facebook ads, you can direct users to your website’s digital store, an information landing page, or whatever you think will be best to get a conversion.
Low Cost Per Impression Marketing Vehicle
Having a website built and hosted is a very low cost marketing method. Depending on the quality of the website designer you choose and the complexity of your site it will usually cost between $2,000 and $15,000. The more professional and customized the higher the cost. For example using a professional company that does custom websites like REM Web Solutions website packages start at $3,600. The only other additional costs in addition to the website design is the website hosting, which is very inexpensive. For example if you were to use Blue Host, which is a great hosting company and even includes free 24/7 support, you would probably be looking at about $6.95 a month if you sign up for their standard web hosting and a 36 month agreement. That is only $83.40 a year for your website hosting. P.S. The link above for Blue Host is an affiliate link I will get a small commission from if you decide to purchase from them.
Lets assume that you spend $10,000 on the design of a website, to be conservative, and see how it compares to other marketing methods on a cost per 1,000 impression. If you are not familiar with what an impression is you can find a definition on our small business marketing dictionary. For this example I am also going to assume that the website gets 1,000 visits a month and that the average viewer views 3.5 pages each visit. This equates to 42,000 pages views a year and should be easily attainable for almost any website. Based on this assumption if you include the upfront cost of designing the website and look to amortize it over 5 years the cost per impression is high. Taking this approach the total cost for the five years is $10,000.00 plus $83.40 a year for five years for a total of $10,417.00. During this time frame your impressions from your website would be 42,000 times five or 210,000. This would work out to $48.01 per 1,000 impressions. This is not cheap but here is where it gets good. After this initial investment the ongoing cost are extremely low for those 42,000 impressions every year. In this example they work out to $1.98 because the cost is only $83.40 for those 42.000 impressions.
Having a website, next to Facebook Ads, is the most cost effective marketing method when looking at cost per 1,000 impressions. Your website will be much more effective though than Facebook Ads because people see your website they are actively engaged in learning about your company. Having people actively engaged on your website for multiple minutes at a time will result in many more leads and sales then a small Facebook Ad as most often people don’t even notice Facebook Ads.
If we use the same example from the paragraph above for the first five years of having a website your costs will be $10,417.00. How many sales do you need to generate to pay this back? If you are in a business to business market my guess is that you may only need one sale to make your website investment worth while. If one sale is not enough, it is probably only a handful. The chances of your website generating more than a handful of customers over the course of five years is almost guaranteed given websites are about the #3 source of new customers for the average small businesses. Even if you are in a business to consumer market how much in sales would you need to make the website investment worth while….$25,000 maybe? Generating $25,000 over the course of 5 years from a website is peanuts. Do the math but I am sure when you look at the numbers they will prove for themselves that it is worth while investing in a website.
The great part about a website is that once you invest in it, you have it forever and it continues to work for your forever. What other advertising methods are there that once you pay for it once it continues to work for your business for ever? Not many. When you pay for a newspaper ad you get that one ad and any benefit that one ad generates but after that ad it is done. That money you spent on the newspaper ad is gone and you can never get it back. If you don’t get a return on investment from it, you never can. The same is true for google adwords, Facebook Ads, Linkedin Ads, a yellow page listing, magazine ads etc. Where as with a website, if you don’t make a positive ROI in the first year, no worries because you have from now until the end of time to get a return on your investment.
By getting a website it makes it possible for anyone in the world to find your business. If you have a product that can be easily sold online you can dramatically increase your customer base by selling on line. To read more about how to do this read my article Expand Customer Base By Selling Online. Or maybe you can’t sell your services online but by having a website you can gain customers that are outside the geographic reach or your marketing efforts.
A great story about this. About 6 months ago I got a call from a man in Calgary interested in my services. I could have never generated a lead from someone in Calgary with any of my current marketing methods, except for my website. This example illustrates how having a website opens the doors for your business to a much larger geographic area……the entire world.
Easily Accessible Data Center
Your website can also act as a data center for both your own employees, customers and your prospects. A great example of this is my customer Gold Roast. They provide office coffee & warm beverage services, coffee, tea & espresso machine repairs, and sell coffee, tea and espresso machines. Basically anything with coffee, tea or espresso they do it. How they utilize their website as a data center is they provide their customers with login’s to their complete product catalog. This allows customers to easy find any product they want and place an order for them. It also makes it easy for customers them to find replacement products if they want to change the coffee or tea products they order. For Gold Roast it saves them money by not having to print out paper catalogs, they never need to reprint catalogs when pricing changes, it saves them time by never having to send the customer the catalog or updates to the catalog (hard copy or digital copies) and it increases orders as it makes it much easier for customers to place an order. This is just one example but there are many ways a website can be used as a data center to to save labor hours and costs.
Self Service Customer Support
Another advantage of having a website is that it can improve your customer support and as a result improve your overall customer service. A website can do this if you post support Q&As on your website or create a forum where users can ask each other questions about your product and other users can answer these questions. These answers to common problems or questions are then available on the internet if other customers of yours search in a search engine for a solution to this problem. You can also direct customers to these online documented resources so that they can solve the problem themselves. This can make things much faster for your customers and also make your customer support department more efficient. Not all products or services can benefit from a troubleshooting forum, but I would argue all products could benefit from a Q&A page for commonly asked questions as well as a forum where customers can post any questions, comments or feedback they have about a product.
If you do not already have a website for your business I would highly encourage you to have one created. If you have technical skills creating your own can be a very cost effective option. If you like that kind of thing, as I do, it can be a very fun and rewarding experience. If you don’t have those types of skills I would recommend one of two options. If you are looking for a low cost option and are comfortable working with suppliers over the internet and the phone without meeting in person 99Designs can be a great option as you can get multiple proposals and pick the design you like the best. With 99Designs you can also set your budget to whatever you want, but as the saying goes what you pay for is what you get so don’t post too low a budget if you go this route. If you are looking for a professional option that is easy to use and you are not sure about what is best for your business REM Web Solutions is the option I would recommend. Their WebWiz@ard program is great for any business as it allows you to fully control your website, allowing for easy website content additions, easy additional feature plugin and will have great visual design created by seasoned professionals. They also offer free 24/7 support which is great as I hate being stuck with a technical issues and not knowing how to fix it or having to pay and arm and a leg to have it fixed. The free 24/7 support just makes everything so easy and headache free.