This week’s guest post author: Sarah Saker.
Your small business does not have a website. Maybe you are thinking a website is unnecessary in your industry. Or perhaps think your offline business is doing just fine exactly the way it currently is. You would be wrong on both accounts. Without an online presence, your business is left unable to reach many and to maximize its full potential.
Even if you are not going to actually sell anything on a website for your brick-and-mortar business, a website is still an invaluable resource for consumers to be able to access your brand and to learn more about it. Give your online business the level of accessibility and brandability it needs by introducing it to the world of web. Its new online presence will bring a whole list of benefits for your business along with it.
Of American small businesses, 71 percent now have their own company website. Your business needs to include itself in this statistic. An online presence for your otherwise offline business lends a hand in making consumers believe that your brand is one of high quality and that offers a true value. It has been shown that 36 percent of consumers admit to being more likely to contact a business if that business has a website. Creating a website for your business makes it credible and leads to more people wanting to know more.
Making your business more accessible
Having a website for your business gives more people the opportunity to see it and learn about it than probably would have otherwise. It also gives the consumer more ways through which to contact you and to interact with the brand. The more accessible your business is (and its accessibility will certainly increase with an online presence), the more people that will engage with it, and therefore the more brand identity it is able to establish for itself.
Also, putting your business online enables consumers to more easily (and to be more inclined to) leave reviews of your business online. When consumers provide feedback for your brand online where others can see it, it promotes brand engagement. Plus, it has been proven that reviews are perceived to be a trustworthy source of information in the minds of consumers — 88 percent of them say that they trust a business review they read as much as they would trust a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. They use them to gather more details pertaining to a business and to help them in their purchasing decisions.
Widening your customer support channel
With an online presence, your brand can offer more support to its customers. Utilize a chat feature on your website or a form where they can quickly send you an email. Customers will take notice of how your business cares for them and enables them to have you solve their issues and answer their questions quickly and in a way that is simple and convenient.
At the expense of small amounts of resources, your business can see big results from putting itself online. After all, to just get up and running with a website, it does not take much more than registering a domain name and publishing content your target market will find useful. Then, as you grow the site from its foundation, your business can work more on its customized design and the great user experience it offers. You put in a little bit of work and money on the front end, and you have developed an online presence that will live and connect with consumers forever.
Use it to get more foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores
It may seem counterintuitive, but an effective online presence for your business can actually be used to drive more people inside your brick-and-mortar locations. Generate interest in what your brand has to offer and show the consumer where they can go to interact with it in person, learn more, and make an informed purchasing decision. Plus, then they can take the product home with them rather than having to wait for it to be shipped!
For an example of a big brand that puts this tip into practice, check out Target’s website. Users can browse the site to see pictures and details of particular products, then see whether a product is available in a store location near them. The online channel is used to encourage visits to the business’s offline channel.
Differentiate your strategy to match your offline presence
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel when developing an online strategy for your brand, take what makes your business unique and successful and channel that into its online presence. Take the tenets and values of your business and apply them to what you build for it online. You want to ensure that anyone who comes into contact with your brand, online or otherwise, is able to establish your brand’s identity in their minds and be able to recall it in the future.
Have you been putting off creating a website for your offline business, or thinking it was unnecessary? Now that you know why in fact you do need an online presence for your brand, develop a strategy to make it happen and give your business a boost.
Sarah Saker is a business coach and freelance writer that specializes in helping SMBs setup processes for customer support and predictable growth. When not writing or coaching, Sarah can be found on her (small but growing!) family farm. Connect with Sarah on about.me for coaching or writing help.