Why does your business need a website?
Websites are not a new thing, with many large companies launching their first website around1995, and by the early 2000’s, we were seeing more and more, along with the launch of several social platforms. I vaguely recall using the world wide web as a resource at one of my first jobs back in 1999. Then in 2001, I actually worked on updating the company website.
My interest grew when I landed a job in London working with global entertainment companies, who were churning out ‘microsites’ for each film, DVD or game release. It was exciting launching web experiences that hadn’t been seen before or using new software developments for the first time. Then came the dizzying world of smartphones and social media apps.
Of course these days, it’s all around us, with smartphones attached to us almost 24/7 and internet access available wherever you go. It’s part of our daily lives, and an incredibly powerful resource that allows us to conduct our lives with more ease and efficiency than before. But we are all still incredibly busy too – work that one out!
If you’re still not convinced your business could benefit from a website then one of the reasons I’ve outlined below may be something to consider.
- You own your website and therefore can present your brand how you want.
Owning your own piece of the online world ensures that you are managing how the world sees your business. It gives you the ability to offer your customers a great feel for your brand from the get-go and highlight info that’s important to them.
Your brand message, imagery, and reputation can get muddied on a social network, due to visibility of your business account page layout, user comments and reviews.
It also is much more professional to have your own website so people can see you’re a legitimate business. This credibility can also come from an email that uses your company name, rather than a hotmail or gmail address, which can give the impression that you’re not serious about your business.
- You are not reliant on a third party platform.
Facebook and Instagram can crash, sometimes for hours at a time, without warning.
If you only have an Instagram or Facebook page for your business, then your customers will be unable to connect with you during that time unless they have your phone number or email on hand.
Of course, websites can also experience outages, but if you’re with a reputable web host, these outages are very unusual and only occur for a few minutes (in my years of experience). Therefore, not relying on a platform that is out of your control minimizes the online downtime of your business.
- A website can lay out information in an easy and simple format.
Recently, I was looking for a place to have lunch for a group of 8, which included 2 vegans and a toddler. So the restaurant had to be suitable for a toddler, as well as have vegan options on the menu. I also wanted to be able to book online for convenience. Over the course of 2 days, when I had 5 minutes to look for a restaurant in between working and looking after that aforementioned toddler, I became very frustrated that most of these places only had a Facebook page. That meant I could not find their menu in many cases, and the only way to contact them was to call.
I ended up booking a cafe that did have a website so I could at least check through their menu. I often see beauty salons with ONLY an Instagram page. I would much rather see a list of services they offer, their prices and a quick look at their salon to get a feel for what it’s like. I don’t want to be scrolling through their profile to try and pull out this information myself, if it even exists.
As a business, you want to encourage potential customers to book an appointment or book lunch with you, not frustrate them and give up because they can’t find the information they’re looking for. Create more opportunities for winning customers business by providing an easy to navigate website with the information they need.
- Not everyone is on a social network
My husband / business partner practically lives at his computer and has been immersed in the digital and gaming world for 20 years, but he does not have a Facebook or Instagram account.
Some people are worried about their privacy. Millennials aren’t big Facebook users, and Baby Boomers aren’t big Instagrammers either.
Therefore you can’t assume your target market is on one of these platforms searching for your services.
Speaking personally, I’ve never searched for products or services on Facebook or Instagram, though that’s not to say I’ve not ‘discovered’ businesses I like on there. So I think there is huge merit for having a social media presence, but being discoverable on Google with a website opens your potential customer base up to those who don’t have their own socials.
- Websites are more widely searchable
Investing in a very well built website that is Search Engine Optimised (SEO) is a much better long term investment than relying on social media activity to be found by your customers. You have to work very hard and invest a lot of time (or money) to keep up with the Facebook and/or Instagram algorithm (which changes often) in order to have visibility.
This is ongoing and requires weekly, or even daily, activity on the platform. If you have time and knowledge to invest, then that’s absolutely fine, go for it! It’s great for overall search engine ranking anyway. But keep in mind also, that you may have great results being found via Google if your site is ranking highly.
If you’re able to maintain your website and social activity, then ranking highly in google search results is free (e.g. you’re not paying for ads to become visible). But, you can also achieve direct hits of traffic via sophisticated Google Ads if your audience uses Google to search for products or services you offer and your SEO is not quite up to scratch.
I saw a recent Google stat that showed people looking for services were more likely to use Google to search for it, than any other website/platform. So aside from recommendations from friends and people in online groups, people will use Google to search for the services they’re after directly.
To summarise, not only can you business be shown in the best light, with up to date information that’s important to your potential customers, but you will always be searchable and contactable.
If you have your business only on social platforms and they are down (or your customers aren’t using them) then the above also applies.
On top of that, there’s loads of other benefits, such as having a professional email address to use, a contact form for people to fill out, being able to provide google directions to your location, making price lists or menus immediately available to view/download, and the ability to link to online booking systems, and other social networks you have.
Article written by Louise Theo, Co-founder of Webbie & Divine Digital, with 15+ years experience in the digital advertising industry.