It Used To Be The (Print) Yellow Pages, Now It’s Your Business Website
It wasn’t that long ago that the first place consumers went for general information about a business or its products was the Yellow Pages.
Consumers couldn’t find detailed information and pricing about your products and services in the Yellow Pages. But 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 often begin their search for information about you and your business with a visit to your website. They don’t start out talking to you or your staff. That comes after they’ve visited your website.
If You Build It Will They Come?
But 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 often depend on what they find 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. They may find you on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or another social media site. Or, they may see your Google Business page, or find you on Yelp, etc.
But without a website, they may also make assumptions about the trustworthiness or legitimacy of your business. Especially if they haven’t been referred directly to you by someone they trust. Then, they’ll likely search Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp or a number of other online sites to learn about you and your products/services.
They’ll do this to find other businesses like yours too. Businesses 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 to earn their business.
Consumers Look For Information Online First
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 the products and services you offer.
Without a well designed and fast loading website where they can learn this, and ideally purchase products/services from you, 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 and services, how do you measure up?
They (potential customers) are usually looking for one of three things:
- Detailed information about the products and services that you sell and that they want or need.
- What others have to say about the products and services you sell that they want or need.
- Your contact information (assuming the first two deliver the information 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, comes from your website as well as online reviews.
Having a Reviews or Testimonial page where you highlight your reviews from Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. helps visitors learn what your customers have to say about 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 you. About your business, your products and the services you offer.
Without a well-crafted website, where do they go online to find the reliable, consistent information YOU want to share about your business?
Today, you are at a disadvantage in your marketplace if you do not have a website! Having a presence on social media is important for many businesses too. But a website is your opportunity to brand and craft the message about who you are.
Big social media sites may come and go but your website is the hub of your online marketing.
When visitors come to your website, what they see/experience will determine what they do next.
Will they …
- Call to learn more?
- Complete a contact form?
- 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:
- An online store where visitors can purchase products or services
- Subscribe to an email newsletter (this should be sent out regularly, whether that is monthly or three times a year, etc.)
- 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)
Making A Good First Impression
Making a good first impression with your website is important. A global Nielsen survey indicates the trust consumers have in branded websites.
Consumers tend to trust what your website says about you. This means you have the opportunity to shape how people think about your brand.
Of course, what they experience when they engage with your business directly or purchase something from you will support or undermine this.
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.
Mobile-friendliness is an important part of creating a first impression. According to Google, more people now search using 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 more than 50% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones, according to Statista. Up from 30% in 2015.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Visitors have an opportunity to check out the external appearance or ‘curb appeal’ of your website, before digging deeper.
This helps potential customers decide whether they’d like to know more about your products and services. If website doesn’t have ‘curb appeal’ visitors may never go further than 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 for?
- 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/the first impression of your site is important, what your overall business offers is just as important.
The first impression simply makes it more likely a potential customer will want to see more of what your small business website has to offer. Without a website that results in a good first impression, 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 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.
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 March 2020 from November 2017 version.)