Think You Don’t Need a Website? 3 Reasons You Should.January 26, 2019
Getting the attention of customers isn’t easy.
People are bombarded with countless messages every day.
Whether they’re texting on their phone, keeping up with social media, watching videos, or reading dozens of emails every day, your target market is swimming in a sea of information.
Many small business owners rely on word-of-mouth marketing to break through this noise. Word-of-mouth marketing is still the number one source for new growth for small businesses, which makes perfect sense. When someone you know and trust recommends a product or service, you’re more inclined to make a purchase.
But here’s the deal:
Word-of-mouth marketing takes time, and it’s tough to get people to talk about your business.
As a business owner, you should always promote word-of-mouth marketing. But you should also pursue other marketing channels at the same time.
One marketing channel you need to focus on this year is building (or optimizing) your website.
I know this advice may sound obvious. But according to a survey conducted by Clutch, less than two-third (64%) of small businesses have a website.
There may be many reasons why small business owners choose not to build a website. But research indicates the primary reason is that they don’t think a site is relevant for their business.
Regardless if you need to build a website or optimize the one you own, there are three surprising things you need to know:
Customers prefer websites
Customers window-shop on your website
Customers expect you to have a website
Let’s take a look at these new realities in detail below.
#1. Customers prefer websites
What is the best way to promote your business online?
Is it posting something on Facebook?
Is it sharing an image on Instagram?
What about recording a how-to video for YouTube?
When I ask most people this question, their gut reaction is usually social media, which makes perfect sense. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of adults in the United States use social media. What is more, 43 percent of small business owners would choose social media if they could only use one type of online marketing.
But here’s the deal:
Most consumers prefer to learn about your business on your website—not through social media.
This preference makes sense when you think about it.
Social media users engage with social media to be social.
They go online to connect with their family and friends and share what’s going on in their life.
This doesn’t mean people on social media are totally opposed to shopping on those platforms.
This also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote your business on social media. But when it comes to promoting your business online, you must have a business website. Take a whiff of these sobering statistics:
- According to Forrester, consumers in the United States are three times more likely to visit your site over Facebook or Twitter
- 81 percent of consumers search online (think Google) before making a purchase
- 63 percent of online shoppers primarily use a business website to engage with a company
- Americans spend nearly 24 hours a week online browsing
What these surveys confirm is that many consumers prefer learning about your business on your website. It’s one of the primary sources they use to learn about you and what you have to offer.
#2. Customers window-shop on your website
Window-shopping isn’t something people used to do yesterday.
Consumers still window-shop today. But the window they’re looking through isn’t your store front—it’s your website.
I know the advice I’m about to share sounds counterintuitive. But if you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can capture the attention of customers online and lead them to your physical location with a website.
Let me explain.
Remember, the vast majority of consumers research online before making a purchase online or in-store. While online, consumers are trying to figure out exactly what they want. They’re comparing prices and gathering the information they need to make an informed decision.
For many of these online customers, after they figure out what they want, they’ll visit a store to make an in-person evaluation and to perhaps make their final decision—which is to purchase.
This practice is what’s called “webrooming.”
This isn’t a new trend, and it’s not expected to go away anytime soon.
In short, webrooming is when someone researches a product online and then goes to a store to review their decision and make a purchase. Practically speaking, consumers treat business websites like a showroom. They look at images, gather information, and compare prices online with competitors.
After consumers have considered their purchase online, many of them will go to a store to actually buy what they’re reviewing.
This isn’t something only a handful of people do in your town.
Webrooming is something many consumers do and it’s probably something you’ve done at least one time in the past year.
Know what else?
Most consumers who searched for a local product visited a store within five miles of their residence.
Why do many consumers prefer to make an in-store purchase?
Based on a report by Merchant Warehouse, there are a handful of reasons why this is the case:
- Many consumers (47%) don’t want to pay for shipping
- People (45%) prefer to touch and feel a product before making a decision
- Some consumers (23%) don’t want to wait for delivery
This trend isn’t going away anytime soon.
The vast majority of global purchases are made offline. I understand this figure may look different for your business based upon your product and industry. But, in general, the majority of consumers still prefer buying something in-person.
Want to lead more people to your store?
Build a website to drive foot traffic to your store, which leads me to the next point.
#3. Customers expect you to have a website
Customers expect your business to have a website.
This is true in two big, glaring ways:
- People won’t do business with you if you don’t have a website
- People can’t find you if you don’t have a website
Some consumers won’t make a purchase from you if you don’t have a website. According to one poll, they found that 30 percent of consumers won’t consider a business in their buying decision if they don’t have a website.
Don’t shut the door on 30 percent of your customers. Instead, build a website that provides information, displays your product or service, and compels consumers to do business with you.
What is more, if you don’t have a website, consumers cannot find your business.
People may stumble across your company if you have a brick-and-mortar store. But most consumers go online first to find a business or conduct research.
This is something that’s especially true for local businesses.
People are searching for what to buy, where they should eat, or for something fun they can do with their kids. Without a business website, many people won’t know you exist, which means they won’t buy what you’re offering.
After you build a website, make it easy for people to find it by investing in search engine optimization (SEO). There are many tactics involved in this process, and it does take time to notice results. But having searches related to your business appear on the first page of search results can drive a ton of new business your way.
Ready to build (or optimize) your website?
Your website is your new front door.
It’s the place customers prefer to visit, where they can check out what you have to offer, and what they expect you to have.
These three realities aren’t new, and they will only increase in time.
If you need help building a site that grows your business, let us know.
We’d love to chat with you about your plans and see if we’re a good fit for you and your business.