As a local business owner, you may think your storefront, word-of-mouth, and local advertising is all you need to succeed. This is incredibly short-sighted; your business’s online presence is just as important.
In the past, people doing a Google search for a product would be presented with a 10-pack listing of local businesses offering what they were looking for. Now, those packs are smaller and harder for local businesses to lock down in the listings. What was once a bit of friendly competition is now more like a triathlon…with no shoes on.
Plainly put, it’s hard as heck.
Without a great website, your odds of being seen online are almost zero – and it isn’t just because of visibility, either. Attracting new customers, increasing brand presence, and even establishing credibility are all important factors.
Let’s learn about this important topic together, shall we?
Your Customers are Watching
Even if you don’t sell online, it’s almost expected that your business will have an online presence. More than 50 percent of consumers will look online to see if you have a website or something that represents your brand before visiting your store. We live in a fast-paced society; people want to know you have the products or services they’re looking for before they make a trip out of the house.
Your potential customers aren’t just looking to learn about what you have to offer. They want to know they can trust you, too.
Where do they look first?
To see if you have a website.
Today’s digital world basically demands an online presence. In the past, businesses that didn’t have a storefront weren’t taken seriously. Now it’s hard to imagine a business without a website. Is it real? Is it a scam? Your website helps lend legitimacy to your overall brand.
You Tell Your Own Story
Having a website allows you to position your business however you’d like online. You’re responsible for your image, personality, and back story. Building a website gives you complete control over what people know about your business, how it was formed, why you do what you do, and your overall mission. Add in a few share links so others can share your story on social and your brand’s name is bound to spread.
And that isn’t even counting the smaller outlets and social media reviews!
With your own website, you can pull social reviews into a feed and add your own iterations gathered from your customers. This allows people to see online reviews without even leaving the page, killing two birds with one stone.
Bonus points? It’s also a great way to showcase the positive and limit the negative, especially if you’ve had a rough ride along the way. Real customer testimonials are an impressive feature your potential buyers will really appreciate.
Expanding Your Target Audience
Local businesses tend to have limited target audiences, usually within a certain geographic area surrounding their brick-and-mortar store. Having a website makes you accessible to people further out, whether they end up doing business with you by phone, via email, or on your website itself.
Again, you don’t necessarily have to have an online store to attract a broader audience. Simply making yourself accessible will make it easier for people to find you, get to know you, and make a solid buying decision.
It doesn’t matter if you’re offering a sales portal on your website or not.; your website is an incredibly valuable tool for lead generation. Any well-developed business website should offer (at a minimum) an email capture form. Your goal is to capture email addresses and send out newsletters with key updates (like sales).
Regular communication keeps your brand visible to potential consumers. This is true whether they need you now or in a few months.
Offering Educational Materials
A website is a great place to offer educational materials about your products and services, like product demonstrations. Think about it this way: if you don’t do it, someone else likely will – and they just might be better at it.
Whether it’s in the form of a blog post or YouTube video, your job is to be useful and engaging. Publish instructions on how to set-up or install your products, use them, and maintain them. You may even come up with out-of-the-box DIY tutorials, projects, or recipes that incorporate your products and others. Make your website the top resource for information on how to use your products and services.
Your website should offer customers and potential leads options for getting in touch with you. Start by creating a clear and comprehensive FAQ page with all of your most common questions and answers. People love being able to find answers 24/7 without having to bother with a customer service line or email.
Make all of your contact information easy to find. Your phone number should be clear on every page of your website. Incorporate an easy-to-use contact form instead of just listing an email address. You may even want to add a chat-form if you’re willing and able to host live chats right on your site. The easier it is for people to get in touch with you, the happier they’ll be.
You should definitely be putting your specials and announcements on your social platforms. They should be on your website, too, though.
Contrary to popular belief, a consumer is more likely to do a Google search for your business than they are to look for a social page.
Website first, social second.
Having your specials, events, and important announcements on your website is important for enhanced communication and generating overall interest in what you’re doing. Granted, this doesn’t mean you should ignore social – just that you shouldn’t neglect your site in favor of social media marketing instead.
Want to make a change to your business model?
You can do that.
Simply want an online presence to may add an ecommerce store later?
Want to add a blog page sometime in the future?
Hey, great – that’s easy, too.
Your website and its functionality can grow with your business – it will never hold you back. Redesign it, add new forms of content, update your images, or make whatever change to functionality you desire at any point in time.
Your only limits are your skill levels and time, and there are plenty of web developers who can help you get past those issues.
The long and short of the situation is that all businesses, regardless of size, should have an online presence. You can even start with a free website option if your budget is a limitation.
There’s no reason to not be online, and your absence is very likely doing you more harm than good. Start small and grow your website with your business. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!