In the digital age, consumer trends have shifted massively and, as a result, your marketing and sales strategies need to follow suit.
A key part of this is the migration online for large swathes of customers. Even in a congested marketplace, a business website allows you to let people know who you are and what you're about, and act as a platform from which to purchase your products.
Indeed, the benefits of being online are numerous – and in 2020, there's no excuse not to have a digital presence. To show you why, we've compiled eight reasons that illustrate the importance of a business website, and why it should form the cornerstone of your company's marketing plan.
You are "open" for business, 24/7.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a business website is that the World Wide Web never closes. With your business accessible online by consumers around the clock, people can shop your products or peruse your written content at any hour of the day. No longer are time zones or physical locations a hindrance to your business!
It's more cost-effective than a brick and mortar store.
Depending on your business and the products that you sell, a bricks and mortar store might not always be the most cost-effective option; if you are based in an expensive location, complete with utility bills, then costs can quickly spiral. However, the cost of running a website is often significantly less – especially if you optimise your traffic and your advertising campaigns.
There are numerous digital marketing tactics that can attract targeted visitors to your site, such as:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Email marketing
- Blog posts
- Guest articles
- Social media promotion
- Inbound links
- Offline website promotion (such as on your business cards or by word of mouth)
- Affiliate programmes
- Influencer collaborations
If you do have a physical location, a website helps to draw consumers in!
If you do require a bricks and mortar base, such as if you operate a restaurant or a garage, then a business website can supplement your existing presence.
Websites can be easily customised to suit your requirements, and, among many other uses, can operate as:
- A separate e-commerce store to sell supplemental products or services
- A means of gathering mailing list subscriptions to promote offers
- A place to offer exclusive deals and discounts
- A booking system
- A catalogue of your products
It is also a highly useful way to conduct market research. Collecting data from the visitors to your page allows you to gain a deeper understanding of who is most interested in your business, where they are located, and how they choose to interact. This, in turn, enables you to establish a customer profile, meaning you can better cater to their needs and desires and improve your face-to-face interactions.
People like to research businesses in advance.
Another key consumer trend in 2020 is the preference of customers to learn about a product before committing to a purchase. Indeed, according to a 2017 eCommerce Foundation report, 88% of consumers choose to research their chosen product online before buying, either in-store or online. For a small business, this is where a website can be crucial.
With this in mind, making all of your product information available on your website – including any reviews or endorsements – can work in your favour. It allows potential customers to get to know you better and feel a sense of connection with your business, which is an important stepping stone when it comes to building trust and cultivating a relationship.
It helps build a sense of community with your consumers.
A website is an ideal hub for anything having to do with your online presence: this means social media links, press releases, podcasts, videos, interviews – and everything in between. By centralising your business' entire online presence, consumers can get to know your brand more intimately. Whether they learn about your recent promotions, your company culture, or the history of your business, you are continually building a sense of community with them.
It can evolve along with your ever-growing company.
Just like your business itself, a website does not have to remain stagnant. As your company evolves, rebrands, and adopts new marketing strategies to better converge with your mission statement, your website can do the same.
It also offers an opportunity for you to target niche audiences, test campaigns, and optimise them for publication on a much larger scale. With a website's ability to post regular announcements and offer online-exclusive sales, it becomes the perfect place to announce to your customers that your company is improving and evolving to better serve their needs.
It strengthens your marketing.
Having a website is, in itself, a form of advertising. In addition to proclaiming your announcements to the world, it also strengthens your pre-existing marketing strategies. Indeed, it can (and in most cases should) reflect your colour scheme, fonts, portrayed mood, and an overarching call to action. This final consideration could be in the form of clicking through to a specific link, purchasing a product, opting in for email campaigns, or any other action that you want your customers to take.
Consistency and cohesion are essential aspects of a successful brand strategy, and your website is the perfect place to illustrate this.
It leaves a lasting impression.
Ultimately, a business website leaves a lasting impression on your customers. The first time that someone visits your site, they are likely forming an opinion of your entire brand; it is an experience, designed to establish if you are going to acquire a new customer or not.
This doesn't mean that your website has to offer a cacophony of interactions to keep users engaged; rather, it means that you have to convey what your business is about and whom it is aimed at. Creating a positive encounter from start to finish is a crucial component of growing your customer base and enhances the chances of you making a sale.
To put it simply, having a business website is vital. The vast majority of modern companies possess one, and it's highly likely that your competitors have set one up, too. It's not a fad or a passing trend, either; although offline marketing strategies are still important to consider, the online world is at the forefront of modernising your business and will likely represent the future of commerce in the longer term. Therefore, your business is unlikely to survive without an online presence.
How will you modernise your company website in the coming year? If you don't yet have a website, will you launch one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.