It’s 2017: If your small business doesn’t have a website, it may as well not exist. It’s common knowledge at this point that one of the first steps in establishing yourself in your field is to secure a website. But what comes next?
You need more than just a blank page with your company name on it. What should a small business website offer to provide visitors and business owners with the most value?
There are some basics that even the most traditional folks can agree on: A website should function the same way a Yellow Pages listing did back in the day. It must have basic information about your business, including the name, business hours (if applicable), and contact information such as an email address, social media handle, and/or phone number.
But as anyone with a smartphone or tablet or even basic PC setup can tell you, websites offer so much more than the basics now. But not every option is logistically feasible or financially productive for a small business website to use—meaning, what’s good for the Amazon or Best Buy site might not work for a home-based business.
So what do small business websites generally offer? For that we turn to the 2017 Wasp Barcode State of Small Business Report, which has a section on digital marketing.
First, it should be noted that the number one marketing tool, cited by more than 1,100 small business owners and industry leaders polled for the report, is the website. Other tools include email, social media, word-of-mouth referrals, and even printed promotional materials—but the website is king.
Assuming you have a website, there are three things that at least 50 percent of respondents said their site offers visitors:
The first two are obvious, as we mentioned above. The third shows an understanding of what consumers expect in a website: a way to complain, or otherwise voice their concerns, issues, or even express happiness with their product or service. Not giving customers an outlet to report back on their experiences is problematic in the internet era—because if they can’t get their issues resolved by going directly to the company, they’ll use social media, review sites, and other outlets to air their grievances.
In addition to the basics, the following responses were given by at least a quarter of all the respondents:
These are what you might call more advanced tactics. Giving visitors the option to watch videos, learn about employees, or read the company blog has two major benefits: One, it creates opportunities to bond with customers, giving them a personal investment in the state of the company; two, it increases the “time on site” (TOS) and click-through rate, both of which have a positive effect on the search engine ranking of the company page.
Additionally, adding the means to either buy products or register for appointments or events is a great way of letting business come to you. Brick-and-mortar stores with no e-commerce component can only conduct sales or make appointments that lead to future sales during regular business hours and with locals, but having an online store means you’re open 24/7, and your customer base is suddenly only limited by where you can ship (and third-party companies exist to help facilitate e-commerce and shipping, if you don’t want to handle it).
Finally, the apply for the job option is another way of being passively active. You aren’t limited to receiving applications and resumes during business hours only—and you can widen your net of potential applicants greatly as well.
To round things out, here are the rest of the responses:
Why a small business would create a website and then not provide any options or services for visitors is a bit perplexing—it may be more counterproductive than having no site at all. While an air of mystery might lend itself to a movie plot, it’s simply not recommended when running a business. You want customers to know they can trust your brand, and you impart that trust by providing information, value, and service.
If your small business website has all of these options and you’re looking for still more ways to add value to your page, consider these ideas, which can contribute to increased TOS, customer retention, bigger emotional impact, and more (via Wasp Barcode):
If you don’t think a website is that important to the success of your small business, hey, it’s your business—you do what you want. But for those that recognize that we are entering a digital age, where the vast majority of people (as much as 97 percent) look to the internet in some form or fashion before buying an item or visiting a store, it’s time to provide as much value online as you do off.
Start stocking your page with these options and see the kind of return you get.
The post Why Every Small Business Needs a Website: Your Company’s Most Valuable Marketing Tool appeared first on AllBusiness.com
The post Why Every Small Business Needs a Website: Your Company’s Most Valuable Marketing Tool appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Brian Sutter.