Why do I need a website? You may be wondering why I bring up this question now as 2018 nears an end. Though on the surface this may seem to be a common question. If you think about it, the internet is ever evolving. We have come a long way from dial-up modems and “You’ve Got Mail!” We now are dependent on the World Wide Web for so many aspects of our lives and rely heavily on a vibrant online community of device apps, social media platforms, blogs, shopping carts, search engines, file sharing protocols and so much more. My point is, the internet is more than just web pages linked together in a nebulous cloud. Though I could only imagine of what the future holds, I believe humankind will always have certain needs that will not change, that is, to connect, share what we have to offer and to inspire one another. The best way that a business can accomplish these needs in today’s digital landscape is to have a website.
￼Albert Einstein said:
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Recently while revamping my web development website, I took Albert’s advice and questioned: “Why do I need a website?” and specifically I was asking the question: “Why does a small business need a website in 2018?” Here are the top reasons that came to me. I would be interested to hear your thoughts and ideas for a website in the comments section below.
1. Opportunity to Create Credibility
Here are a few ways you can use your website to build credibility. Showcase case studies, testimonials and statistics about how you've served your community. Display client logos or logos of media outlets your business has appeared on. Embed videos of live testimonials, news broadcast or personal messages.
For years I have heard from many business associates that say a website creates credibility. I have to disagree. You must earn credibility, and having a site alone is not sufficient. I prefer to say that a website is an opportunity to give your business credibility. It is not enough to have a website, but you need to follow some of the best practices that in time will create trust with your customers. You need great copy which includes an excellent brand story. It needs to be coded well, utilizing today’s standards, and that could consist of: being mobile responsive, search engine friendly, easy to navigate, and fast. You need to have a business infrastructure that supports the promises you make on the web by having stellar customer service. Also, others in your circle of influence need to give you credit through reviews or testimonials. Social proof is one of the best ways to show that you are the expert you say you are. Though it takes an effort to become credible, without a website your customers don’t have as easy of a resource to learn about and research your company. If your potential clients see that you don’t have a website, it is telling; it shows your company is not taken seriously, not up with the times and disingenuous about serving your customers. If your audience is not turned off by the lack of a website alone, you may find that they will buy from a company that has an online presence. Don’t give your competitors the opportunity to outshine your business or give them a reason to share lousy press about your product. Jump in the game.
2. Share Your Brand Story
One of the most important things you can do on a website is to share your brand story. What an opportunity to creatively inspire others to join your cause or become part of your tribe. Tout your history, successes, and if you want to be real to your customers, perhaps some of your failures. Speak to your audience in a way that helps them understand that you’re not just selling widgets or providing a service. Inversely, educate them to your way of doing things and motivate them to become part of your community. Energize your fan base and help them see that they are participating in something more significant. A cause if you will. Help them know the joy of owning or playing a role in your inventions and imaginations. Make a goal of expanding your influence and followers. Give your brand a persona of its own and enforce the meanings you want your brand to have. Above all, inspire others.
3. Take Full Control of Your Content
With a website, you are the boss and get to decide who sees your message. You choose the words your target audience will receive. Social Media platforms are becoming more and more “pay to play”and if you don’t keep pumping money into the system, your content may not show up to your desired audience. Also, the news feed nature of social media will often push your content to the past, below the scroll line, only the most recent posts appear. Furthermore, social media platforms have bylaws and user agreements that control the conversation that suits the viewpoint of the platform. You can be excluded or kicked off the platform if your views don’t match that of the social media companies product you are using. If you are a bastion of free speech, your message can be unfiltered on your website. One of my favorite parts of having a website is that the audience and traffic you build belongs to you. The names, emails, and phone numbers and reviews shared with you on your site for marketing purposes are yours to help make your brand. You’re not allowed to use shopper reviews of your product or service generated by another website. In a way, you aren’t just selling your product if you are using a massive online marketplace, for example, you are building their brand in the name of your quality support and service. Why not create your lists, your reviews on a website you own. Your company will only be stronger for it.
4. The Ultimate 24-Hour Sales Person
One interesting phenomenon of the internet age is the emergence of the passive buyer. Some people feel more comfortable with passive technology interactions. This new type of buyer uses a mouse and a screen to research effectively, make decisions and purchases without ever needed to use their legs, their voice or drive to a store.
Even the most hardworking entrepreneurs at some point, need to put their head on a pillow and get some rest. Every business also needs to spend time on administrative, finance and managing activities. In other words, resources, at times, require attention to undertakings other than sales. A website does not need to rest. It does not need to worry about business expenses and payroll, and it does not get distracted or off-topic. A robust website knows how to close the sale and provides the necessary calls to actions when appropriate. One interesting phenomenon of the internet age is the emergence of the passive buyer. Some people feel more comfortable with passive technology interactions. This new type of buyer uses a mouse and a screen to research effectively, make decisions and purchases without ever needed to use their legs, their voice or drive to a store. Just about any item of commerce can be bought and delivered to these new buyers. There are also internet trolls that find joy in tearing down others and exercise mayhem. Since trolls are anonymous, they are not held accountable for their words. (Sorry for the tangent, but trolls erk me!) My point is, there is a vibrant online community that has currency every bit as valuable as those that visit our brick and mortar stores who will only buy from our reliable 24-hour sales website and will never manifest their physical presence to you in any form whatsoever.
5.The Hub of Your Online Activities
A website is a gathering place where we filter or funnel out prospective buyers. Recently I went to a mall. Though that may be a weird thing to say nowadays, back before the internet, that is where we would go to buy clothes and gifts for Christmas. Now, when you make the statement that you went to the mall, it is kind of weird. “Why? “Is the first question that comes to mind. You may ask, “Haven’t you heard of Amazon?” Well yes, I have, but I wanted a tactile experience where I can touch and try on my outfits. Heaven forbid if I had a social experience where I interacted with real humans! Less I digress, one thing that bugged the bejeebers out of me when at the mall is those pesky employees that work at the kiosks in the breezeways between stores. You know who I am talking about right? “Check out this crappy remote control car from China?” they yell.
“I can save you on your mobile phone bill,” they retort.
“Smell this cheap perfume, never mind the fact you’ll walk around all day with a migraine!” They declare.
Then there is the matter of personal space. You see it coming, they know you’re not interested, I can have my head down, looking the other way, helping my kid or talking to the company I am with, and these pretend actors try to persuade me to focus on and buy something I don’t need. That is the problem with a mall. Segmenting your audience is hard. I don’t need cheap perfume or a remote control car. I am just not in the market for those items. As I walk by these businesses, I ask how do they stay in business? Then you see every other storefront vacant with “space available” signs on them.
A good website can do two things. Firstly, if your advertising is segmented correctly, your site can inform and entice your buyer into taking action. Secondly, it can filter out people that are not interested in the product. Although I am not interested in cheap perfume, somebody probably is. If I go to a website that I think is one thing but turns out to be something else, I leave. The site wins because no effort was made by the business owner or employees to spend wasted energy on trying to get me to buy something I don’t need. So a website is a hub for all your online activities. It is the storefront or gathering place that all your other online ventures point direct traffic too. Whether it’s your advertising, social media posts or search engine marketing, all of your internet ventures are designed to filter your audience to you, and your website is there to close the deal.
6. Guide your Customers to Take Action.
Emotion motivates me. Being a human is weird. I buy products often based on wants not needs, spend money for recreational activities cause I need a break, eat out cause I don’t feel like cooking. Emotions are neither good nor bad, but our decision and actions often look to our feelings for guidance. Wow, Yoda step aside, I’m on a roll. You know the drill our emotions are endless. I’m happy; I feel good, I’m mad, I’m sad, I’m hungry, I’m depressed. There is no end to the feelings we go through in a day. Marketers love to play on emotions. It is easy to pull heartstrings, or we are made to believe we need something when we don’t. I guess you could say that advertisers manipulate us, but I disagree. The mature thing to say is that I place the blame not on the advertiser, but on my thoughts and decisions that lead me to choose to act on those emotions. I am not saying it is bad to act on emotion. I think the world is a more colorful place filled with great energy when we participate with others and share our stories and talents with others. In the end, we have the freedom of choice to engage in our actions. This stance may be against common marketing belief, which is erroneous in my view, that you can make someone do something, you can make them buy anything. The fact of the matter is, you can persuade, but you cannot make. My free will is that important to me. Enough of my soapbox though, a website is a vehicle to persuade others to take action. Notice I didn’t say make, I said “persuade” others to action. I believe that if we understand the needs of our potential buyers, we create product or services that address those needs, and then advertise them properly, then the right buyers will come to our website. Then it is the websites burden to persuade the customer to take some form of action. Typical Calls to Action you will see on a site revolve around asking someone to buy, download, sign up for, donate, watch, or read something. If the website has done its job, it will make an excellent case for your product or service and persuade the right audience to take action.
We don’t know what the future holds for the internet. One thing is for sure, it is here to stay. At this given time, there is no better place on the internet to connect, share and inspire others than your own personal website that you control. Let me know what your top reasons for having a website in the comments below. Lets learn together.