It is tempting to make this a one-word blog entry. In the interests of upping the word count beyond a resounding “YES!”, allow me to answer the question “does my small business need a website?” more fully, and explain why your investment will deliver long term rewards to your business.
Why does any business need a website?
There are people trawling in the internet using Google, Bing and other search engines right now for the services that you offer. Without a website, as far as these potential customers are concerned, your business does not exist. Your small business could be the best at what you do, but without an online presence, your customers may never find you.
Creating a fast, well built, mobile responsive website that showcases your products and services should be one of your top priorities as a small business owner. Local Rotherham business, Brearly & Co Accountants came to us in need of an effective website design for their accountancy business. Their web design project has a clean design and clear signposting to the services offered. A fantastic example of how a local business can reach potential clients at both a regional and national level.
Your website is a shop window for your small business
A website is your opportunity to make a great first impression. You want your potential customers to feel confident that you can deliver the service they need, on time, to a high standard. Whether you lay driveways or make wedding cakes, a website for your small business can be the perfect way to showcase your work.
You are passionate about your budding enterprise and nobody knows more about it than you. Pour your expertise and enthusiasm into your website by creating content. In doing so, you will be creating unique pages that search engines will begin to notice. Share your industry knowledge by posting useful articles and Google will reward you with visitors.
Get in the habit of taking notes when a new idea pops into your head. Make sure you take photos of your work every time you complete a project. This will add visual interest to your blog posts and enable you to create a portfolio page to wow your potential customers. Take a look at our Content is King post for more content creation ideas.
Make it easy to start a conversation
Perhaps the most important aspect of your small business website is the “Contact Us” page. Once your potential customer has found you, read your homepage and decided you might be able to help them, you want them to contact you.
This has to be as easy as possible. Your phone number should be in an obvious place and formatted as a “Click to Call” button to make it straight forward for those on mobile devices. You don’t want your customers fumbling for a pen or trying to remember the digits.
Your website will have a contact form on it that sends business leads to your email address. This form could ask specific questions like “What is your budget?” and “Where are you based?”. This information can help you prepare for a conversation and win that new client.
Nothing frustrates potential customers more than wanting to get in touch with a contractor and not being able to. Make it easy for them.
Getting to know your customers
When customers land on your website pages you have an opportunity to engage with them. You can be pretty sure they are interested in what you are offering, but are they ready to buy? What are their specific needs?
You can use online surveys and chat applications to find out detailed information about your customer’s requirements and attitudes. A newsletter signup or a giveaway can be used to harvest email addresses. You can entice them with information like a “how to” guide or exclusive content, it doesn’t have to hit your pocket.
It’s called conversational marketing. You can use this approach to find out about your visitor’s needs and convert browsers into customers.
Do I need an ecommerce website?
We live in peculiar times, where the threat of another Covid 19 lockdown is potentially just around the corner. This means the ability to sell your products online is more important than ever. You could use a third-party platform like Ebay or Amazon and many entrepreneurs choose these as their route to market. The downside of these online selling platforms is that they harvest your customer’s data and use it to their advantage.
If you are really successful, these platforms might even source your products and sell direct to your customers, cutting you out of the loop.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have complete control over your online shop and know that only you have access to your customer’s buying habits and preferences? This is where an ecommerce website for your small business starts to make sense.
Is running an online shop hard?
Running an ecommerce website doesn’t have to be a trial if you choose the correct solution for your business from the outset. With the right training and support from a web development agency like Next Pixel, you’ll be adding products and configuring promotions before you can say “discount code”.
Does the thought of setting up a PCI compliant server to process card payments fill you with dread? What about GDPR?
Fear not, you can safely and smoothly hand off the processing of online transactions to a third party. Online payment processors like Opayo (formerly SagePay) and PayPal will give your customers confidence that their data is safe. These solutions can be configured to give your shoppers the sense that they never leave your site.
Opensource ecommerce solutions
Opensource software is free, but it is rarely a “turnkey solution”. You’ll want your website to reflect your branding, process card payments, manage stock levels and perhaps integrate with your internal systems. This is where a web development agency can add value to the opensource platform you choose.
There are many opensource ecommerce solutions on the market. Some of the more well known ones are:
Each of these platforms have their pros and cons. Some are perfect for small businesses; others are enterprise solutions, capable of selling hundreds of thousands of products, through multiple websites.
The beauty of opensource is that it is tested and extended by a large online community of developers. This makes these platforms extremely secure and scalable. Because you get a rudimentary website “out of the box”, a web developer can extend it and tailor it to suit your business needs, whilst keeping development time and costs under control.
Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your website will require some research. Here at Next Pixel we predominantly build websites for small businesses and think Woocommerce is a great fit. That said our team have experience in building websites with all the major opensource ecommerce platforms out there. Choosing the right solution very much depends on what your business needs are. Why not get in touch with us for a consultation.
What are the competition up to?
I hope I’m making a good case for creating a website for your small business, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Why not take a look at the online presence of your competitors?
If your competition has even a basic website, it means their business is more visible than yours when it comes to online searches. They also have somewhere to direct online traffic. Your competition can use search engine advertising, social media posts and email marketing to drive potential customers to their pages and win business.
If your competitors are on the front page of Google for search terms that your customers are likely to use, they are taking your business. A web development agency like Next Pixel, have the tools, strategies and experience to help you rank higher than your competitors. We will scope out where your competition is capturing your audience and help people who are searching for your goods and services find you first.
How do I start building a website for my small business?
Hopefully I’ve managed to answer the question “does my small business need a website?” sufficiently that you’re now asking, “where do I start?”. There are a number of options from renting a server and learning to code, to hiring a web development agency.
Answering the question “how do I build a website for my small business?” is beyond the scope of this article, but it would make a good subject for my next blog post. Why not sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with the latest from our blog.
A man of simple pleasures, Mark enjoys coding, real ale and playing guitar. He is uncomfortable talking about himself in the third person.