So here I am, I have started helping businesses with their websites and I have not really let businesses know why they need a functional website. So what better time to do it. There are two common explanations I come across when I talk to businesses who don't use or have a website, and they are:
Have one but don't really need it...
So this gets broken down again in two parts. The first part is directed to businesses who have websites, designed them themselves or paid a fee for someone to design it, published it to the web and waited for the world to come to them. Sadly, it is not that easy getting your website on the first couple of pages of Google. It takes time for Google to trust your website. It also takes a bit of work to tinker with the link building and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
Secondly, I have found that when talking to some business owners who are experiencing 'good times' they do not rely on their website to generate sales and leads. They usually say they get all their work from word of mouth. I always immediately think they are lucky to be in this situation, however, when I ask them to think what would happen if momentum changed, if the leads stopped coming this way, what would they do...
The answer usually is:
'Oh well, I would then look at a website or pay more attention to the one I have'.
Yes, you can concentrate on it if this time comes, or, you could make sure your website is optimised now so it is ready to generate new leads if it is not already. Sure there are people out there that can help you with it, and like I said earlier, there is a bit to do to optimise your website. However, if you do this from the start or build a website now while the good times are here, it helps eliminate the risk of the 'gravy train stopping' and builds business continuity.
The second type of business usually tells me:
I Don't need one..
For the businesses I speak to who do not have a website, I usually point out the following to help them understand why a website is crucial.
Thousands and thousands of people use the internet to search for businesses that sell similar products or services to your business. By not having a website, or an optimised website if you have one already, you will be missing out on the action.
Online Portfolio - showcase your business
By having a website your potential customers can find out about you, your services, your products and your business. What businesses seem to forget is that a website allows potential customers to see testimonials which we are seeing as a massive advantage to businesses who can showcase positive feedback on their business website. It also allows for existing customers to promote your business by quoting your website - free marketing, how good is that!
The shop is now 24/7
Your website never closes. It can let customers, where ever they are, access your website and buy your products or request a quote for your services.
Engagement with customers
A website is a vehicle to build a customer base so you can directly inform them of special offers, new products, important information etc. It can also give you the opportunity to remind them a service on a vehicle, lawn mower or pool filter service is due. The possibilities are endless. It also gives them the opportunity to ask you questions etc.
If you are brave enough, you can link your social media platforms to your website, but thats another story. You can find out a little more about that in an earlier blog on this website.
In this modern age a website is a sign of authority for customers. There is an element of unease with some potential customers if they cannot find your website and look at what you do.
Lastly, we are moving to an age where referrals are the big deal. Potential customers are not relying on printed business lists anymore. It is digital all the way! Social media allows for instant information and this includes instant referrals. Businesses who are not relying on funnelling social media referrals, so they point towards their website, are being disadvantaged. This is all and well if you are lucky enough to be on the 'gravy train', but like I said earlier, what happens if momentum changes.
The times are a changing!
Traditional marketing and advertising channels are showing signs that they are not the most successful or effective methods of marketing your business. With the world moving to digital and the easy access to the web by smartphone and tablets, people are craving information. Through social media an individual can see what products their friends like, are buying or talking about. If the product/business has a Facebook page for example, they may have a look themselves at what is ‘trending’ with their friends, they may like the page and might even look at the business’s website… and they might even buy a product or service too.
This is just one example why every business needs a good social media strategy.
Another trend that businesses need to know about is that social media allows individuals to ask and respond to information requests immediately.
Referrals are big business
It is very common for a social media user to ask a question, for example, ‘Does anyone know a good plumber?’ and receive instant responses. A respondent to this question can now directly lead a person to your page, invite you (your page) to respond or invite the social media user to like your page, therefore, building your fan-base and opportunities to create leads.
Potential customers are also leaning towards referrals as a way to pick businesses that offer services. Research has pointed out that a lot of people search for a service provider, skim a business web page to see if it offers the product/service they need, get the business name and then search the business name and add the word ‘review’. For a lot of potential customers this is the way they pick their service provider, such as their carpenter or kitchen maker. It is solely based on what other people have experienced. If they cannot find any dedicated reviews on the business from feedback sites, some turn to social media to see if they have a business page or have received relevant feedback.
The clever businesses have this covered. They attract the potential customer to their social media pages, have the right content to keep them interested and before you know it, they have clicked onto their website, liked their page, requested a quote or bought one of their products. Smart businesses know that each time the above happens, the potential for the following will then happen. They will:
It is pretty amazing how attracting potential customers has changed!
There are some businesses that have dabbled in social media but have not harnessed the true potential of it. Yes, it is easy to set up a page, but it is a whole new ballgame attracting potential customers and building your ‘online’ community. There is a bit of work involved to do it properly and maintaining these relationships. That is why more businesses are outsourcing this component of their business.
With the above in mind, you can see why a good social media management strategy is needed. You can significantly increase traffic to your website. It will help increase awareness of your products and services, which result in more sales and leads to you. It will also help maintain your current customers by giving your business the opportunity to engage with them, provide helpful information about your products and services, allow them to provide feedback and importantly, allow them to refer (promote) your services and products to their friends and family.
Having a correctly established and comprehensive social media management strategy is a necessity in today’s digital world and reasonably inexpensive for the returns it will deliver.
So do not get left behind! Social media management is the next big thing!