Small businesses have historically relied on visibility and word of mouth for business. As we’ve progressed we’ve moved towards business cards, phone book listings, and traditional PR. Remember those cute stories in the local paper about a new business opening, with the classic photo of the business’ owner standing proudly in front of the shop window? Technology, the internet, and people are progressing now. While there’s still a demographic reading the news and using the phone book, physical copies of phone books and hardcopy newspapers are on their way out.
A lot of small business owners don’t view websites as a necessity and they don’t understand why they’d spend that much money on something they’re doing fine without.
Like I said, people used to look in the phone book. They’d flick through that giant book alphabetically looking for its corresponding letter. Sometimes, they’d even call each listing to ask about their products, prices, and request quotes. You could say the internet is the new phonebook, but the flaw with that logic is that no one calls anymore.
Phone calls aren’t dying with the same velocity as phone books, but the overall distaste for them among younger generations is growing strong. A good website that’s effectively catering to your under 35 client base should have enough information for the user. So much information, that they shouldn’t need to call you.
Visibility is never a bad thing. No one’s ever lost business from having a prime main street location for their shop. But, in 2019 no one’s going window shopping to find what they want. We know what we want and we search for it. One of the best ways you can utilise the internet and profit from the advancements in technology? Show up in the search results.
No matter what your business, if you don’t have a website you’re losing out on business opportunities every day. The business picking up on your lost consumer? They might not be any better than you, you might be smashing them in terms of services or products, even customer service. The only difference is they have a website and they showed up when someone was looking for what you offer.
Websites provide ongoing marketing that you don’t have to pay for. You’ve got your products and services pages that can be updated and you can refresh and revitalise your business’ information listed. Then there’s SEO, SEM, and content marketing, which can be done relatively easy if you have a strong knowledge of your core offer, understand the basics, and the competition isn’t too dense.
One of the biggest reasons for a small business to have a website is credibility and legitimacy. Users and potential customers can judge a small business’ website design. If it looks too DIY they’re going to question the budget, if it looks old they’ll question your priorities, if you don’t have one they’ll wonder why. Having a quality small business website design that matches your business and suits your industry can build trust and let users know you’re serious about your business.
Websites can also give small businesses more credibility when their Google Reviews are integrated on the website. New statistics show that 86 per cent of consumers read reviews for local businesses. That stat becomes more impressive – 95 per cent of people aged 18-34 read the reviews. The consumers read an average of 10 reviews before they feel ready to trust the business. 91 per cent of those 18-34 year old consumers treated those reviews like personal recommendations. Then, into the nitty gritty of reviews-based selections; 57 per cent will only use a business with four or more stars and 40 per cent think only reviews within the last two weeks count.
Another solid reason to get your small business a website is the time management factor. Business owners are habitually stressed and strapped for time. How can website design help that? By integrating an online contact form you can lose some of those time-wasting phone calls. How much time do you lose to bookings? Integrate an online booking system, it’ll handle the communication and the scheduling. Even just listing your business’ information on your website means your time spent on the phone answering random questions should be cut down.
Having a website for your business means your customers can learn about you, book, or get in touch via your contact page any day at any time. Chatbots and contact forms means your customers can seek support or information from you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Neat.
So, we’ve established any and every small business really does need a website, what does your website need?
Put yourself in the shoes of someone searching for your product. What do you need to know? Your website needs to be laid out in a way that kind of predicts the user’s ‘but what if?’, ‘okay, how?’, ‘sure, where?’ questions preemptively. They need to know enough about who you are, what do you, what you provide, which problems you’re solving, and how other people have felt about you. Remember, if there are any questions about you that rise in the user’s mind, but you don’t answer, chances are they’ll go to the next website rather than call you. Depending on how technical your product or industry is, an FAQ page can be pretty neat.
Your small business’ website design should match your brand and your industry. Your website gives you that credibility and legitimacy, but the design can throw it all off. If the colour of your website is different to your logo and shop, or if your brand is quite serious and you include flashing elements and bright colours everywhere. This can be jolting and confusing for the user. It creates a disconnect between you and your brand and it loses that credibility the user was ready to give you.
Probably one of the most important things to remember in the design process for your small business’ website is to make it mobile friendly. Not just because mobile search has overtaken desktop search. When you’re searching for a product or a service, you’re rarely on your computer. It’s in the car, between places, on the bus, on the couch at home, leaving work. It’s not something you sit down to research – it’s more of an ‘on the go’ search. So it makes sense for your website to be designed mobile first. Plus, responsive websites rank higher, have a better chance of making sales, and look way more professional.
You need a call to action or ‘the point’ somewhere easy to find. So they find your product online, do they add it to their cart, do they come in store, fill out a form? Not only does a strong call to action influence the user to act soon, it directs or steers them. If they don’t know what to do to get the product immediately, they’re not going to search. They’re just going to go to the next website. Scatter call to actions around your website. ‘Click here for more information’, ‘get in touch here’, ‘find products here’, ‘add to your basket’, ‘fill out an order form’. This guides your users, lets them know what to do, and hopefully, makes your more sales.