May 3, 2018
I see you. You’re a business owner and maybe you have a website because someone told you that you need one, but you aren’t sure why because you sell your products or services offline. Or, maybe you don’t have a website and you’re wondering if anyone could ever convince you to invest in a website for your business. Well, in this post I’ll try to do exactly that!
Read on for four reasons why you should have a website for your business, even if you don’t have an online business.
If you can be found online, you’ll be found in person
These days, no matter what people are searching for, they start their search online, even if they’re looking for a brick-and-mortar store. Physical phone books are almost obsolete because Google has replaced them. If an online search reveals no trace your business’s existence, it’s getting to the point where people may doubt its legitimacy. Not having a business website could be reducing your potential profits by driving potential clients to your internet-savvy competitors.
If you’re smiling because your business is online but you don’t have a business website, let me tell you something that should sober you up: if you conduct all your business through Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, beware! As you’ll hear over and over—and I certainly didn’t invent this concept—building your online business on someone else’s platform is R I S K Y! If the social media platform you’re using changes tomorrow, will you still have access to your clients? What if your favourite platform goes bankrupt? How will you reach customers that you spent years serving and nurturing? If you want some control over your access to your existing and potential clients and customers, you need to establish a home base (your website).
A business website is part of effective branding
These days, in order to build a business, you need to build a brand. Customers have many high-quality options and your branding is in part the way that you’ll attract the right customers for you (sure, you could compete on price, but even that can be connected to your branding, if, for example, you market yourself as the cheapest X in town (please don’t do this). Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said it best: Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. Your brand story communicates to potential clients or customers who they have to be to fit with your brand, it sells an experience rather than results alone.
If you only need to sell a few products or services each year to live well, you may be able to build a personal and engaging brand for a product or service without having an online presence. In that case, you can use charisma to hustle offline a few times a year. For the rest of us, building a brand without an online presence would be difficult.
Your business website should be the hub for all the material that you create to tell your brand’s story, from the introductory video explaining why your brand exists, to pages on your website dedicated to explaining the vision, mission, and accomplishments of your brand, to blog posts and videos demonstrating how your product works, to your About page. When you consider the Marketing Rule of 7 which states that prospects need to “hear” an advertiser’s message at least seven times before they buy, you can see why a home base would be helpful for marketing: it saves you from physically standing on street corners hawking your product or service to passersby (unless you want to do that, of course!).
Your business website is the hub for email list building
Your website should be the place where you get permission from current and future customers to build a relationship with them through email. Email marketing allows you to test the Marketing Rule of 7 that I mentioned earlier (the Rule states that a customer needs to “hear” an advertiser’s message at least seven times before making a purchase). Email marketing—or “selling” to your customers through email—is an effective way to apply the Marketing Rule of 7, but email marketing is an art. It is not sending emails that list your products and their prices. When done right, email marketing is storytelling. In many cases, though not always, the potential customer is gently guided toward making a purchase over the course of several emails. These emails don’t blatantly sell, for the most part; instead, they’re focused on building a relationship with the potential customer or client who gets to know the business owner in a way that provides value to the potential client or customer, even if they never buy a thing.
Potential clients and customers should be invited to join your email list in several locations on your website. To sweeten the deal, it’s generally expected that you’ll offer an incentive, often called a freebie, to encourage someone to provide you with their email address. If you sell a physical product, the most commonly offered incentive is a coupon code for a discount; you could instead offer a guide on how to use your product or on how to prepare for your product’s (future) arrival (e.g., if you sell baby mobiles you could offer a free guide or checklist on setting up a dreamy baby room). If you don’t sell physical products, an e-book or a training video may be more appropriate freebies.
A business website streamlines your work by allowing you to provide more high-quality service to your customers
One day, by God’s grace, you’ll have a business so big that you’ll have a team of people who’ll handle various administrative tasks. Until then, I strongly encourage you to hire your website to do this for you!
What am I talking about? I’m talking about setting up your website as the place for current and potential clients and customers to go with their questions, rather than sending you emails or asking customer-service-type questions on social media (which is not always the easiest place to provide customer service or manage information flow). I’ll be providing specific information on the kinds of things you should have on your website to streamline your customer processes but I’m sure you can think of things that would be handy to have such as:
- frequently asked questions
- exchange, return, and refund policies
- how to download a digital product
- how to contact customer service
- testimonials, hopefully from satisfied clients or customers
If you take the time to create pages on your website that address the above and more, you provide potential clients and customers with confidence in your brand and this may make their buying decision easier.
There you have it: four reasons to set up a website for your business. Once you’ve set up your business website, there are things you can do to increase the chance that your website will be the top result for specific online searches; this is called search engine optimization and it’s a science on its own. But in the meantime, a one-page website that clearly spells out what you sell and (for brick-and-mortar businesses) tells people where to find you and how to reach you, will, over time, increase the chance of your business moving up the ranks for the search terms you want to be found with.
Elevate My Writing is a copy editing service for online business owners. You’re the expert on what you do; my job is to take what you write about what you do and polish it so that you make the right first impression and present your brand in the best possible light!