Can your business be effective without a website?
Short answer? Yes, you can be effective without a website if you already have a client base and you’re not looking to grow.
Some people don’t want any more than a small business that keeps ticking over, and if it already does that without a website, then carry on! But, if you’re looking for my customers, or are trying to grow in any way, why make it hard for yourself? Finding new clients, nurturing existing relationships, and building trust with consumers is so much easier with a solid online presence.
A whopping 81% of people research a business online before making a buying decision. That’s nearly 26million people. Despite this, 46% of business owners without a website said it’s because their business doesn’t currently need a one. Without a website you are cutting yourself off from this market of potential customers.
Always be available
Websites are always open (barring any technical hitches) even when your office isn’t. If someone wants to place an order or send an enquiry at midnight, on New Year’s Eve or while you’re on holiday, they can do so! If they need to phone you or wait for your reply to an email, you most likely won’t reach them while their ‘purchasing hat’ is on.
Particularly in this day and age of instant gratification, consumers will choose to buy from a competitor if they can do it straight away, rather than wait for their number one choice to get back to them.
Do I need a website if I have a Social Media presence?
Really the answer is yes.
Trends change, Twitter could be out of fashion overnight with users preferring other platforms, and then the followers you’ve painstakingly built up are worth nothing.
Many businesses found out the hard way when Facebook changed their algorithm, that you can’t rely on a platform to continue working in the way that it does today. What’s your contingency if it suddenly becomes very expensive to reach a new audience on your social? Having a website provides a consistent platform, to which social should be secondary.
The other consideration is that consumers are less likely to trust a business without a website. Even if you have a fantastic social media presence which gives you customers, there will be potential customers who don’t buy from you because they can’t find your site.
Cost of getting a website
You’ll need a domain name. This is the mywebsitedomain.co.uk bit that people go to to view your site. The cost of your domain name can vary immensely depending on what you want. Have a look on GoDaddy, Wix or 123 Reg to name a few, and search for the domain you want.
Once you have this, you’ll need the actual site. You really have two options – you can pay someone to design it for you or design it yourself.
Using a web designer can be great, they usually look professional and are designed to achieve whatever you need them to. However, they do come at a cost, sometimes a large one, and often don’t give you the access you might want. This means that you may need to pay for the designer to make changes each time you need them.
There are plenty of ways to create your own site, even if you have limited technical knowledge. Wix are a great example, with templates and a simple drag and drop editor which you can access anytime. Wordpress is another option like this, just have a browse around and find one that works for you. You’ll usually pay a monthly fee, so balance this up with having a bespoke site made.
Customers are less likely to trust you without a website.
Modern thinking means more than half (56%) of consumers would distrust a business without a website, as the lack of visibility and familiarity make them worry they’re being scammed. Most consumers will research online before they buy, even if they’re planning on buying from a local shop.
Marketing can be easier
Over 80% of people search on Google to find products and services, and they will find your competition on there rather than you! If you have business listings elsewhere online, having a website gives something to link to, with more information beyond your basic contact info.
This is what consumers want, and they’re much more likely to buy from you.
Keeping it up to date
Consider how easy it is to keep up to date when you’re creating your site. If you won’t be able to log on and check it often, keep the site and content simple.
Make sure that any change in your address, phone number or email is reflected quickly on your site, as out of date info is one of people’s top pet peeves on business websites. Try and make sure than any links, for example to your social media channels, are correct too because broken links also reflects a lack of care in your business, whether that’s correct or not.
At the end of the day, the internet has quickly become a huge part of people’s lives, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. Even if you’re currently doing great without a website, if you are looking to grow in the future, it will only get harder and harder each passing year to find new business without a website.
But if you don’t feel you need one or if you want to be established for a couple of months and be sure of your offering before spending time making one, then here are some things you should certainly make sure you have straight away.
- An email address.
We’re not talking anything @gmail.com or @hotmail.com etc. To appear like a professional business you should have a domain name email address @yourbusinessname.com.
This will also set you up for when you do want to build a website, as the domain name will be where people will find your website online.
- Business cards.
Until you have a website you should have something you can give a potential client. We strongly encourage networking as a way to generate business, and you’ll need cards for this.
- Marketing knowledge.
You can look at this time before you have a website as your chance to get ahead in terms of marketing. Every small business owner should become a marketing expert, as there will be so many choices of where you can spend money to grow your business.
Get reading, and learn as much as you can so that when your website is live you have a clue what to do next.
Learn more about how to start your business to beat the stats and survive your first year, just visit the Northern Business Expo on 17th & 18th March at Manchester Central. It’s free to come along and attend all the skills workshops, keynotes, advice centres and networking sessions, so just get your free ticket today!