With so many options available to promote your local business online today do you still need to build a website or can you simply save the money?
Today I have a question from milly who runs a vintage wedding cake in Cardiff
How essential is a website for a small local business owner?
The simple answer is, it is extremely important for any business to have a web site, let alone for a local business.
As a small business owner, having a website is a massive opportunity to make a huge difference at a minimum cost.
Building a website is fairly easy and ,contrary to popular belief, not very pricey. Yet many small business owners still haven’t bitten the bullet and built a website for their business.
I did a bit of research before answering this question and, apparently, according to a recent report an astonishing 60% of small businesses in the UK still do not have a website for their business.
Beyond the sole purpose of explaining what a business is about and where it can be found, a website is by far the best Marketing tool at the disposal of any small business owner.
It will give your business instant credibility. Whenever I look for a new business online I will always check if they have a website. If they don’t that will ring some serious alarm bells in my book.
It is a platform to showcase your business and services that you provide. You can add professional images, videos, testimonial and all sorts of other media which you wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else and gives your business the opportunity to truly shine and be different.
You can be found 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year, as opposed to traditional marketing. I am not suggesting to give up what we call “off line” marketing but if I had the choice between being seen in my local newspaper which will end up in the bin after a day or two and being seen all the time I know which one I would pick.
You can get valuable customer data. With a web site the sky is the limit when it comes to getting hold of customer information. You can gather email contacts through newsletter registration, competition, offers etc…which you can use to communicate later on at the click of a button to push promotional activities for instance.
You can have a professional looking email address. Although this may sound trivial milly @vintageweddingcake.com sounds a lot more professional than milly @gmail.com. It goes hand in hand with the credibility of your business. I have come across many business owners who handed me their business cards. And one of the first thing I always check is the email address on the card. If it doesn’t match with their business name it tells me a lot about them, not in a positive way.
It gives you great customer insights With free tools such as google analytics you can understand your customers better than ever before by analysing their behaviour on your site. What are the most popular pages of your site? Which product or service are your visitors looking at? Where are they coming from? Once upon a time this type of information was only available to big companies. Now, even small business owners have access to it. This is golden as it will help you sharpen your offering and be more efficient.
You’ll have the opportunity to attract customers outside of your local area It’s called the world wide web for a reason. Anybody from anywhere in the world can see your local business online. You could easily attract tourists who are planning their visit to your home town and stumble across your café or jewlery shop while doing their research. Probably a little trickier if you’re into make vintage wedding cake but you never know. Without a website it would be difficult to achieve.
It gives you multiple marketing options. You can be found naturally in google just by having your website listed as part of google’s results. You can run what we call a Pay Per Click campaign which means you would pay to drive traffic to your site and get more customers. You can list your business in many specialised sites related to your industry… there are plenty of options
You could argue that, nowadays, it would be possible to promote your business though social media platforms alone such as Facebook, Instagram YouTube and others.
Of course you could. But you would be missing out on so many opportunities. Being successful online is all about being visible and being found. Many small business owners have very little idea about how to promote themselves online and that’s why there is still a big chunk of them who do not have website. This leaves room to those who DO KNOW.
So, for all the reasons I have mentioned, YES, it is essential to have a website for small local business owners. If you don’t have one just do it. You won’t need to break the piggy bank and you certainly won’t regret it.