It Used To Be The (Print) Yellow Pages, Now It’s Your Business Website
It wasn’t all that long ago … for some of us anyway … that the first place consumers went for general information about your business or products was the Yellow Pages.
Although consumers couldn’t find detailed information and pricing about your products and services in the Yellow Pages they could get your phone number, your address, and if you had a glitzy ad, a general feel for your business brand.
A business website, if you had it, was nice but not essential. But times have changed!
Today, consumers don’t need to talk to you or your staff to get a good feel for your business. They only need to visit your website, assuming you have one. And chances are, it’s the first thing they’ll do before they call you or visit you.
If You Build It Will They Come?
Does building a website for your business make that much of a difference? You bet it does!
Today, whether or not consumers call you or not will usually depend on what they find when they arrive on your business website. Especially if your business, products and/or services are new to them!
If you don’t have a website consumers may reach out to you some other way – social media, your Google Business page, Yelp, etc. But without a website, they may also make assumptions about the trustworthiness or legitimacy of your business.
And, quite likely, especially if they haven’t been referred directly to you by someone they trust, they’ll search Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp or a number of other online sites. They’ll do this to find other businesses like yours who do have a website and the information they’re looking for. Your competitors.
Of course, if a good friend has highly recommended you to them, you may get a pass on not having a website – or having a poorly designed and slow-loading website. Or, you may not.
If a website visitor hasn’t been highly recommended to you by someone they know and trust. And, if you are a new business to them, with no website or a poorly designed and slow loading website. Chances are this will eliminate any chance you have of having an opportunity to earn their business.
Consumers Look For Information Online First
Today, the average consumer goes online first to find out about the business, products and/or services they are looking for. Whether they found you through an online search, or whether they got your website address off of a business card, a flyer or from a friend.
No matter how they found out about you, their goal when they visit your website is to learn more about your business and/or the products and services you offer. Without a nicely designed and fast loading website where they can learn more about your business, products and/or services you are at a competitive disadvantage.
When Visitors Arrive On Your Website
When consumers (potential customers) go online to find out about you, your products or services, how do you measure up?
They (potential customers) are usually looking for one of three things:
1. Detailed information about the products and services that you sell and they want or need.
2. What others have to say about the products and services you sell that they want or need.
3. Your contact information (assuming the first two deliver the information they need in a way that has you in the running for their business).
Usually, the detailed information about your products and services as well as your contact information comes from your website.
The second, what others say about you can also come from your website as well as online reviews. Having a Reviews or Testimonial page where you highlight your reviews from Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. and including links to your reviews on those sites can help customers learn the goods on your business.
How Potential Customers Find You & The Next Step
Potential customers may find out about your business through:
- An online search
- A social media post
- A business card or flyer
- Some other print marketing piece
- Were referred by a friend or family member
But, no matter how they found out about you, their goal when they visit your website is to learn more about your business, products and/or services and what you offer.
Without a well-crafted website where they can find this information, you are at a disadvantage in your marketplace.
When visitors land on your website, what they see/experience and the purpose of their visit will determine what they do next.
- Call to find out more?
- Complete a contact form to find out more?
- Ask for a quote?
- Make a purchase?
- Make an appointment?
- Register for an event?
- Visit your physical location? (If you have a storefront location)
Other Options Your Website May Offer To Visitors
There are many other options your website may offer to visitors in the hope of building a connection that leads to business. Here are a few of them:
- Subscribe to an email newsletter (make sure you send this regularly, even if only four times a year, and that it represents your brand/business well)
- Subscribe to an RSS feed (to receive your blog articles – same advice as for the email newletter)
- Book a free consult
- Register for an event
- Book an appointment
- Sign up for membership (paid or free)
A visitor to your website’s interest in taking any of these actions will be heavily influenced by the first impression they have of your business, created by your website.
Making A Good First Impression
Making a good first impression with your website is important because, according to a global Nielsen survey, consumers trust branded websites.
In other words, consumers tend to believe what your website says about you.
This means you have the opportunity to shape how people think about your brand, from what they experience when they arrive on your website.
Of course, just as important is what they experience when they engage with your business directly or purchase something from you.
But the first encounter, that first impression, plays an important role in paving the way for further encounters to take place. Like making a purchase, booking an appointment or placing an order.
Today, an important part of making a good impression is making sure your website is mobile-friendly. Because, according to Google, more people now search on mobile phones than computers!
In April 2015, Google made changes to its algorithm that made having a mobile-friendly website a search engine ranking factor! They recommended (and still do) that the best way to do this is by using responsive web design over other design patterns.
Mobile-friendliness is also important because 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones!
If your website is NOT mobile-friendly you are missing out!
More Reasons Why You Need A Website For Your Business
Here are a few more reasons why your business website is important:
1. When someone mentions your name, in passing or as a direct referral to someone, a search of your business name should result in your business website appearing at or near the top of the search results.
2. When you, or someone else, give your business card, a promotional flyer or some other marketing piece to others, your business website printed on the item becomes an important way for them to be able to check you out.
3. When potential customers drive by your business location, an online search of your business name should result in your business website coming up at the top, or very near the top, of the search results.
4. When your website address is displayed on a car banner, product, product packaging, etc. it makes it easy for consumers to find out more about you and your business by visiting your business website.
5. When your website address appears as part of your email signature, as a hyperlink, your website is just a click away for anyone wanting to find out more about your business.
6. When your website address is listed on your social profiles, learning more about your business, your products, and your services through your website is often the obvious next step.
10 Reasons People Will Visit Your Website
People visit business websites for a variety of reasons. Here are ten reasons why people may visit your website, and why you need a website!
People/Consumers/Potential Customers visit your website to:
- Get your phone number.
- Contact you through your contact form or email.
- See where you are physically located.
- Discover your service area.
- Find answers to general or specific questions they may have.
- Learn more about specific products/services.
- Investigate and/or compare products/services and prices.
- Read reviews and testimonials, to check out what others have to say about you and/or your products/services.
- Purchase products and/or services online.
- Get a feel for your business and what you might be like to deal with.
Visiting your business website allows consumers to find out about you from the privacy and comfort of their own home or office. Or, while shopping in your store or office and before they take the next step of hiring you or buying your product or service.
Why You Need A Website With Curb Appeal
Visiting a website for the first time is somewhat like doing a drive-by on a house listed for sale. They have an opportunity to check out the external appearance or ‘curb appeal’ of the house, before digging deeper. This helps potential customers decide whether they’d like to see the inside of the house or know more about the product or service.
If a house (or your website) doesn’t have ‘curb appeal’ visitors may never go further than a house or site ‘drive-by’ or a quick look at your website Home or landing page.
The inside pages or content of your website might be well laid out, attractive and content-rich.
But, if the first impression visitors have when they land on your site lacks ‘curb appeal’, visitors may never go further than a quick ‘drive-by’ before they leave your website, never to return.
Things That Influence New Visitors To Your Website
A few of the immediate things that will influence visitors are:
- How quickly your website loads and how it looks on both desktop and mobile devices?
- Does the site navigation make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking?
- Are the images used on your site good quality and do they work with the topics and your brand?
- Does the layout of the information use of white space, well-written and easy to read content, appropriate call(s)-to-action, good visuals, links that work, etc?
Of course, while curb appeal or the first impression of your site is important, what your overall website offers is just as important.
Curb appeal simply makes it more likely a potential customer will want to see more of what your small business website has to offer.
Without website curb appeal, you’ll likely lose that chance.
The Cost Of Building Or Fixing Your Website
Whether you are looking at building your first business website or making improvements to an existing one, it needn’t cost a small fortune.
If you already have a website built on a Content Management System like WordPress, so much the better.
Of course, some businesses require a level of functionality and complexity that is much more expensive. But for most small businesses, this is not the case.
The quality of the images and content used for your website along with the layout, design and functionality are important! Just having a website is not enough. How that website represents your business, your brand, is hugely important.
That said, it’s not about having all the bells and whistles. In fact, sometimes these can actually hurt the experience visitors have on your site rather than help it. Especially when it comes to how people experience your website on mobile devices.
But the cost to your business of not having a website, or of having a website that does not work well for your business, is far greater than the cost of having a website that works well for your business and its target audience.
In an online world where consumer decisions are heavily influenced by what they see online, having a website that represents your business well has never been more important than it is today.
(Updated in July 2019 from November 2017 version)