1. A good website gives your audience an impression of professionalism
Customers have come to expect every business to have a website. Without one, you risk not being taken seriously by potential customers. Are you still in business? When are you open? Do you carry a certain product or brand? These are all the sorts of questions going through someone’s mind as they try but fail to find your business on the Internet.
Pro-tip: Make sure your website developer is professional, don’t have a hobbyist or beginner build it.
2. Your customers can learn about your business
A lot of consumers start their “window shopping” online now, choosing to first take a peek while sipping coffee and surfing the net on their iPad. They decide which business to visit based on some form of preliminary research. These customers appreciate the ability to read about and preview first before doing business.
Pro-tip: If you don’t want to create the website content yourself, you can hire a professional business writer and/or photographer. The end result will be of a higher quality than most people are capable of producing, so it’s a better way to go in the end.
3. Your information is available 24×7
The Internet never sleeps, so you can. If you have all your product support documentation online, you can defer customers there rather than handling it in person or through the postal service. Offloading some of your customer support to your website reduces customer support costs. There will even be times where your customer may view your website on their phone while they stand in your store. In that way it can work just like you had an information kiosk in the store.
Pro-tip: Even though it’s an “always on” environment, timing is still very important on the Internet. Use scheduling features to publish new content at key times too maximize traffic to your website.
4. You can target a certain customer segment or market
Niches tend to form online. Like-minded people flock together and present a great target for online marketing. You can even get granular with the way you publish your website content so that specific content gets distributed to one group and not another.
Pro-tip: Create and maintain an online community that’s somehow related to your business or product. Social media websites like facebook are a great place for this.
5. You can gather customer demographic data
Using Google Analytics behind your website, you can get demographic data about your website visitors. This data can shed light on the profiles of your customers. You can also survey your customers directly through your website to get exact answers about whatever questions you have.
Pro-tip: Incentivize customers to answer survey questions with a reward like a special coupon.
6. You can introduce new products and services
Word can spread fast online, much faster than older methods of advertising like print, radio or television. You can post new information to your website within minutes. You can also provide as much information as you want without increasing costs or dealing with format restrictions like with print, radio or television.
Pro-tip: Create your own promotional video and post it online. How-To videos are very popular and offer an easy way to showcase your product without being overbearing like a regular commercial.
7. Product documentation is far less expensive to update online vs. print
Updates to printed materials can be costly and time consuming. Providing this information on your website is an easy way to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction. With online content, you are able to update at any time. You can also tie in a notification system that alerts customers that the documentation has been updated.
Pro-tip: Make sure your website is built using a content management system so you can make content changes easily.
8. You can sell your products online
This is perhaps the best reason, and talk about ROI! Many companies have greatly extended their customer base by selling their products online. It’s similar to mail order, but much better from a customer service perspective. Customers can just bring your website up on a screen instead of ordering and waiting for a printed catalog. You also do not have to print or mail that catalog. So, starting small and growing later is a lot better facilitated with e-commerce vs. printed catalogs.
Pro-tip: Use PayPal to start small and get your e-commerce up and running fast. Customers don’t need a PayPal account to make the purchase. Most e-commerce solutions can be switched over later to a direct transaction processor like Verisign.
9. You can do special promotions like online coupons or QR codes
Online coupons are a big deal. A lot of online consumers will often hunt down coupon codes online before making a purchase. This is a great way to pull in those bargain shoppers and make them into loyal customers. Often consumers will wait until a coupon code is available before they make their purchase. So, give them what they want! QR codes are a good way to tie in printed advertising with your website. It allows customers to use their smart phones to capture and use the code. This could lead them to a coupon or just to a promotional page on your website.
Pro-tip: Put QR codes on printed flyers or post cards that lead customers to a special page on your website that gives them a reward.
10. Your competition may not have a website yet
Many small businesses do not yet have a website, or they have one that doesn’t really work. Don’t be that company! Creating a new website is fast and inexpensive if you pick the right web developer. Unless you’re trying to remain exclusive, your business needs to be online. I know if I am looking at doing business with two different companies and one does not have a website, I may lean towards the one with a website.
Pro-tip: Size up your competition by trying to find their website and social media pages. Some businesses do have a facebook page but no website. Beat them by doing both!