by Rieva Lesonsky for SCORE
It’s hard to believe that in 2017, a sizeable percentage of small business owners still don’t have websites. Even among those who do, many of their websites are less effective than they could be. Is yours one of them?
In a recent Capital One study, just 56 percent of small businesses say they have a company website. Of those, only 53 percent of their websites are mobile-optimized.
This kind of statistic makes me want to tear my hair out.
If your small business doesn’t have a website, here are some of the many ways you’re missing out:
- Your email marketing is less effective than it could be. Last week, I reported that about half of people who get a marketing email from a business will visit the business website as a result. If you don’t have a website, they could go to your social media page—but can they actually make a purchase there? In most cases, no.
- You’ll get less traction in search results. If consumers search for your business online and you don’t have a website, your company name and address may show up (if you have a presence on local search directories, that is). But where do customers go to learn more about your business? Without a website to click on, they’ll be taking their chances if they decide to visit you.
- You’re at the mercy of social networks. Social networks change their algorithms and policies all the time. What if a new change makes your business’s social media accounts less visible in users’ feeds? It’s happened to plenty of Facebook users as Facebook has adjusted its algorithm over the years. Worse yet, what if the social network you’re reliant on loses its luster? (Think MySpace.) If you build your marketing presence on a website that you control, rather than on someone else’s turf, your investment of time, energy and money, it is much more secure.
- You look less than legitimate. Personally, I am very leery of doing business with any company that doesn’t have a website. Consumers these days like to get as much information as they can about businesses before making a decision to patronize them. Without a website, your business is shrouded in mystery. . . and not in a good way. You look either hopelessly out of date, or like you’ve got something to hide.
Beyond all these factors, one reason to create a business website is that there’s no longer an excuse not to.
It’s more affordable and easier than ever before to set one up for just pennies a day. All you have to do is visit one of the many one-stop services that offer web hosting, web design and/or DIY website templates you can use to create your own website. As a bonus, many of these services make it easier to market your website by helping you with search engine optimization, local search directories and more once your website is up and running.
Your business website doesn’t have to be fancy, either.
If you own, say, a local dry cleaner, a couple of pages with your basic information (hours, address, phone number), perhaps a Contact Us page, and links to your business elsewhere online (social media, reviews, etc.) are really all you need.
When asked what would most improve their businesses in 2017, 32 percent of small business owners in the Capitol One survey cited “increasing advertising and marketing.” But just 14 percent said “creating a website.” These days, however, a website should be the basis of your advertising and marketing efforts. Without one, you can’t hope to compete effectively.
Need help planning your business website and using it effectively as a marketing tool? Visit www.score.org to talk to SCORE mentors who will share their expertise for free.