If you are in business and don’t have a website, you’re not alone.
Most tech savvy folks cannot imagine that there businesses that do not have a website in this digital age. Well you will be shocked to know that around 40 to 50 percent of businesses do not have a website (according to a study by Godaddy). That should give you a hint about how much more competitive you could be right now.
Further, more than half of those companies don’t know how much such an initiative would cost, according to a new study conducted by 1&1 Internet. Many SMB owners said they are confused about the cost and effort involved and need more information about the benefits of having a Web site.
Benefits of a Website
Every day more and more people use the Internet to find information; it is convenient and saves time more than any other media such as newspapers, magazines, and TV. Having a website is becoming so mainstream that customers and the general public simply expect a company to have one. If people want information on a product or service, they are now saying, “I think they have a website, I’ll check that out first.” Below are just some of the benefits you can expect from a website:
Increases awareness of products/services
A website provides the opportunity to publish the who, what, where, when and why of your business in a powerful and effective manner. How many potential customers might be swayed if they could learn a little more about you, your company, your products, etc., without having to phone or taking the time to meet with you in person? A website makes it easy for customers to learn more about your business at their own pace.
Expands your marketplace
A website can expand your reach to a market that may have been difficult or expensive to reach through traditional advertising. Now 95% of people search the Web rather than the Yellow Pages when looking for a service or product. With an e-commerce site you give information to the world and make sales when your offices are closed.
Increases hours of operation
Not only will your website be there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with the possibility of reaching millions of people every day, but now your customers are able to contact you outside of your normal business hours. Your website, hosted by a major Internet Service provider like Godaddy or Bluehost, is still working for you while you are at leisure or asleep.
Reduce publishing costs
One of the largest expenses a business can incur is designing, printing, and delivering marketing materials. Websites are quicker, easier and more cost-effective to update than print-based media. You can keep your website more current, more affordable, and easier to manage than any other media.
With a website, you can instantly publish new product announcements, employment opportunities, contact information, coupons, almost anything, without material or delivery costs. People can learn about it instantly just by visiting your website.
Reduce marketing costs
Buying advertising space, whether it’s a newspaper ad, billboard or radio spots, can be expensive. In addition is the burden of the hours spent trying to figure out the perfect words to say in a limited space. A website is an unlimited number of full-page ads that you can change at will!
Reduce communication costs
A website can do far more than sell products. You can have pictures, details and prices of your products/services, the very latest company information, hours of operation and maps indicating the location of your company’s outlets on your website. It can supply your staff, suppliers and business partners with important and timely information. Just about any printed matter can be converted to a web page and distributed by email at far less cost and time than by fax, mail or courier.
Build brand awareness by having your website URL on all other marketing material you use. Having your brochures, website, business cards, ads, posters, etc… have the same look and feel increases your brand awareness–and makes it simple for people to get even more information about you.
Enhances your image
A website can help you to establish a credible, professional image, instilling a level of trust with your customer and their purchasing confidence will follow suit. Your website can (and should) reflect the spirit and vision of you and your company.
The Internet also offers the opportunity for a small-business to portray itself as a big business. (Or, for a big business, to fall flat by having a website that poorly represents its true stature.) How will your business be perceived on the web?
Improves Customer Service
Does your staff spend a lot of time on the phone answering customer requests for information on a product or service? Do they keep answering the same questions and sending out the same material? Do they spend a lot of time on the phone with customer support?
A website can help reduce long distance phone bills, postage costs, printing costs and labour costs (and frees them up to perform other tasks) by having that information on your website.
Your website can also take orders while you sleep as people can place orders on a website at any time, day or night. You would be surprised how many extra sales you could have by developing an on-line brochure or virtual store.
A website lets you publish support information with up to the minute accuracy. Some companies only offer support through their website. If the website doesn’t offer the answer an online feedback form is provided. This is perhaps the most underrated usage for business websites.
Email can improve efficiency of your operation – for your customers and your employees. Customers who use email don’t have to deal with many problems of everyday business: pushy salesmen, remembering to call during business hours, having to battle crowds to get to your stores, spending time waiting on voice mail or getting the wrong information. It’s convenient, easy, and safe for the customer. Email is also convenient for you. You can respond to all your customer inquiries at the same time, and do it when you have a free moment – not in the middle of rush hour when someone calls up to ask for product information or directions to your location.
Even without an online store, people can look to your site for driving directions or a map to find your store. Tourists can look up your small shop and stop there on their next trip to your area. (Are you on Google places?–you should be if you are a brick-and-mortar shop).
Many people use the Internet to find information. You can use your website to educate and inform others. This can be done in various ways: publish an online newsletter, have an advice column, offer message boards, or simply have a place where people can submit their names and email addresses to join your mailing list for more information. This is another way to gain public awareness of your business or organization. It also allows you to grow your customer base for direct marketing.
Creates a competitive edge
If your customers can’t find you online, they will find your competitors. With more and more companies making a web presence, the companies that lose business to their competitors will most likely be those who fail to represent themselves on the Internet. If a potential customer can leisurely browse your company information online but cannot find your competitors’ information, your company now has an additional edge.
Opens new channels of communication with staff, affiliates, agents and suppliers
Intranet websites (websites that are generally closed to the Internet users and are accessible to organization members only) are an easy way to provide your employees with a way to reach the information they need to perform their duties in one centralized location. You can post benefits information, changes in staff, kudos for hard work, a place for their schedules, and much more. You can put as much or as little information as you want on your site and make them supply a password to access the information that needs to be kept private. Here’s where you can keep corporate records and make version control much easier.