Do I Need a Website for my Local Small Business? Absolutely!
January 2, 2019
It’s very easy to think that you don’t need a website to become successful with your local business. After all, your business is 100% local.
You’re not shipping merchandise or providing online services for the rest of the United States, so what’s the big deal about putting up a website for your business when all your customers are going to come from a 5-mile radius?
It’s very easy to think in very localized terms when it comes to brick and mortar businesses. After all, a lot of local enterprises view websites as essentially glorified business cards.
These entrepreneurs overlook one key fact: the vast majority of consumers, both local and online, check with the internet before making purchasing decisions.
You read that right. When people are buying from a local store, they check the web. The look for the best price, they check out reviews, or they pay attention to the local business’ social media account.
This trend is not going to go away any time soon because more and more people are buying mobile devices. These gadgets enable people to access the internet wherever they are, whenever they want.
Back in the day, you have to call around to get a referral. Now, you just tap on your mobile phone to get the answer that you’re looking for. That’s how crucial an online presence is.
In 2018 and beyond, a website is no longer a luxury. In fact, it’s an absolute necessity for local businesses such as yours.
Our company helps small businesses such as your establishment, achieve local success.
In this article, we will cover the following topics that will help you succeed.
Learn the key essential reasons that make building a website for your business absolutely necessary
Find out the answer to common local website objections
Figure out how much it truly costs to put up a local business website
Learn how to create an online home for your business
The bottom line: if you are serious about taking your business to the next level, you have to get an expert company help you build your website. Click here to contact us today.
7 Key Reasons Your Local Small Company Needs a Website
According to sales analysis of small businesses throughout the United States conducted by the accounting firm Deloitte, digitally savvy local businesses have the following advantages:
They earned twice the revenue of their non-tech savvy competitors per employee
They grew their revenue baseline by up to 400%
They were 300% more likely to hire new people this year than last year
Their average growth in employee hiring rate is six times higher than non-tech savvy businesses
If you want to enjoy the same growth rate as these technically savvy local businesses, you don’t have to search far. It all starts with your decision to put up a website.
That’s the big difference between those technically savvy local businesses and their competitors. They put up the right website.
If you still need convincing, here are 7 bulletproof reasons why you should not hesitate any longer to put up your local company website:
Reason #1: Almost a third of your target customers will not do business with a firm that doesn’t have a website
Let’s face it, we live in a digital world. People expect businesses to have an online presence.
Indeed, the average American is on the internet around 23.6 hours per week. And this number continues to go up. In fact, consumers are usually using their mobile gadget for as much as 5 hours daily.
Given this strong digital immersion, consumers expect local companies to have some sort of online presence. Otherwise, they simply do not look professional or serious enough.
No wonder, close to 30% of your potential customers would not want to have anything to do with you if you don’t have a website.
Reason #2: Your customers are already looking for you on the internet
The great thing about putting up a website is that the internet is where your target consumers are. Many of them are entering keywords and search phrases into search engines to look for businesses like yours.
These are localized searches, mind you. They are looking for a certain service or certain type of product within a fixed geographic area.
Every single day, Google logs 3.5 billion searches. Can you imagine the amount of searching going on for your type of business in your local area? That’s business you are not getting because you don’t have a website or your website is not optimized for search engines. You’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
Reason #3: Close to two-thirds of consumers go online to research and interact with businesses
According to the study “The Digital Consumer Study” released in April 2017, 63% of the respondents say that they go to a business’ website to get more information and interact with that business.
You cannot ignore this statistic. 63% accounts for a large portion of your customer base.
Please understand that this statistic should be viewed in light of another statistic, which says that 93% of all activity involving the internet involves a search on Google or other search engines. This means you have to be visible.
You have to have a website. Because if you’re not visible, your customers cannot find you. They cannot interact with you, they cannot ask you questions, and you cannot interact with them in a meaningful way. That’s a lost opportunity.
Reason #4: Almost half of consumers say that a business’ website is their best way of figuring out if they think the business is legit
If you have a website, please understand that you’re sending a lot of messages to your prospective customers just based on the elements on that site. They read the content, they look at the format, they look at the layout, and they pay attention to the pictures. It provides an experience.
And what do you think they do with this experience? That’s right. They determine whether they should trust you or not.
The problem with this is that if you don’t put up a website, your target customers would have no way of determining whether they should trust you or not.
Reason #5: You need a platform that answers the most commonly asked questions regarding your business
Every time somebody comes through the physical doors of your business, they probably have a few questions. Depending on how you answer these questions, you either have a sale or you have a blown opportunity.
People will always have these questions, given the fact that a large chunk of your customer base is using the internet to find information about the type of service or merchandise your business offers. Wouldn’t it make sense to put up a website that contains the answers to their questions?
The three most basic questions people would ask once they make it to your website are:
Your company’s identity (and background story)
What you have to offer them
How they get in touch with you
Please understand that customers are always in a hurry. They do not have the luxury of time. If your business cannot answer these key questions, they’re going to click the back button.
The problem is, if you don’t put up a website at all, you won’t even get an opportunity to make a sale because you won’t even bother to answer their questions.
Reason #6: Your small website can be your secret weapon against big local industry players
Believe it or not, even if your local business is very small, size is usually not an issue on the internet. Small, microscopic local companies look very big and credible and authoritative, thanks to their well-designed website.
It doesn’t matter whether your local competitors have been around for ages. It doesn’t matter whether people look at them as some sort of a local institution. None of that matters because if you have a better website and people can find it quickly through search engines, you can gain a competitive advantage.
When people visit your website and you give them the answers that they’re looking for, your chances of those prospects walking through your business’ physical doors are quite high.
Reason #7: Social media is not going to save you
Please understand that there’s a lot of hype regarding Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The sad fact is that almost all of your competitors and other local businesses in your area are putting up Facebook pages.
Just because your business is on Facebook, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need a website. As more and more businesses flock to Facebook, they quickly discover that they don’t get a comparative advantage just by being on Facebook.
Their competitors’ websites get found faster. Their competitors have better tools or better opportunities to leverage when working with their own website than with a Facebook page.
Finally, Facebook has been tweaking its algorithm. This is bad news for local businesses because most content found on Facebook timelines are published by friends and family members, not Facebook business pages.
It is no surprise that these pages are not enjoying the reach they used to have. This is going to get worse as Facebook cracks down even further with its algorithm changes.
To make matters worse, people are reporting that they’re spending less time on Facebook. In fact, this year alone, people have spent 50 million less hours on Facebook than the prior year. This trend is not going to go away anytime soon.
Don’t put all your eggs in the Facebook basket because it’s looking like a dead end. You need your own independent website.
Overcoming Common Objections Raised By Small Business Owners About Putting Up Their Own Website
We have worked with small local businesses for several years now. We have heard many reasons why local business people simply avoid putting up a website. In fact, we are sure we have pretty much heard all the excuses there could be. A lot of this is based on confusion and leads to misguided decisions.
What follows are the most common reasons small business owners give for not putting up a website. They are quickly answered by the response we give our clients.
Objection #1: My firm is simply too small and that’s why I don’t have a budget for this.
This is, hands down, the most common response we get from owners of small businesses. When we let them know that we can help them with their website, they always give us this stock answer.
The problem with this answer is that it overlooks one key fact: your website is the #1 marketing weapon your small business could ever have.
Think about it, you have a budget for the electricity in your business. You definitely have a budget for all the permits and local licensing. You might even have a budget for a lawyer who would incorporate your business. You view these as investments in your business.
The same can be said of a website. It’s an investment. When you put together that initial investment and you build that asset, it produces results. It’s not much different with your website.
Objection #2: I’m already generating sales with my business. I don’t need a website to get business that I’m already getting.
Believe it or not, even if you are getting a tremendous amount of revenue from your current business, please understand that you still need to put up a website.
Why? First of all, you really can’t trust that your current revenue flow from local marketing or local word of mouth will continue. Market conditions do change.
Second, when you put up a website, you can reach more people. You can take things to the next level.
This is important because, like we said earlier, you can’t rely on your current revenue flow. What if those sources dry up?
When you put up a website, you get new sources. You get an alternative source that enables you to weather the ups and downs of business.
It doesn’t matter whether you run a restaurant, a bookstore, or you provide some sort of service, you need to put up a website because you will be able to reach different sources of local businesses.
Objection #3: Somebody told me that I can build a website for absolutely free
Whether somebody tells you that they can create a website for you or you can build one for free, don’t do it. It’s a bad idea.
Why? Well, when was the last time you had your teeth pulled or a root canal done by a family member or friend who says he was good with drills or with pliers? The answer is probably never. Just because somebody hammered a few nails, it doesn’t make them a professional carpenter.
The same goes with website design. While there are a lot of tools out there that use templates for you (or somebody you know) to put up your small local business website quickly, it doesn’t mean that you should use them.
You have to understand that your prospective customers will only give you one shot. You have to make a good first impression. You have to hit that ball out of the park.
Sadly, if you put up a pathetic looking page using free online tools, you’re creating more problems than you’re solving. People may be able to find you online, but the impression they get is not very helpful to your bottom line.
In fact, people might get the impression that your business is unprofessional, amateurish, and not worth their time. Not exactly the impression you’re trying to make, right?
Invest in a professionally designed website that makes your company look like the leading company in your local area. Nothing less will do.
Objection #4: We don’t have tech-savvy customers
A lot of businesses assume that if their customers have a tough time using computers that they can safely dispense with putting up a website. Make no mistake, do not trust your first impressions.
The raw, cold statistics of internet use in the United States paints a very different picture. According to recent figures, 89% or more of all adults in the United States have used the world wide web or interacted with it at some level or another.
Also, close to 80% of them own mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. It is no surprise that, starting in 2016, web traffic created through mobile devices blew past traffic generated by desktop or laptop computers.
It’s only a matter of time until almost all traffic comes from mobile devices. The sales of these gadgets continue to increase year after year.
Like it or not, your customers are becoming more and more tech savvy with each passing month. You have to be able to reach them by putting up a website.
Objection #5: My company is not an online-based business
One of the most common misconceptions among business owners is that only web-based firms need websites. They’re thinking that if they have a local business that provides merchandise and services to people in their local area, they can dispense with putting up a website.
This is a very common mistake, and it’s also very costly because you don’t end up putting up a website and you have to live with leaving a lot of money on the table.
Sadly, that money doesn’t stay on the table because your competitors who put up websites will eagerly grab it. Sooner or later, they will leave you behind.
It doesn’t matter how established your local business is, it’s only a matter of time until your business starts to suffer because people can’t find you on the internet.
Okay, I Get It, But How Much will Professional Website Development Set Me Back?
This is a good question asked by many local businesses. The honest answer is: it depends. Putting up a website can range from free, nearly free, or close to $100,000. It all depends on how you go about doing it and also how big your website is.
If you use site building platforms based on the web like Squarespace, you just have to pay a small monthly fee. You get to use their platform to show your website. You don’t have to worry about hosting, domain names, design fees, none of that. Everything is provided from one place.
The flip side to this is coming up with something completely different. If you’re looking to build a custom site from the ground up with all sorts of bells and whistles, and you need it fully optimized for maximum visibility on search engines, prepare to invest at least several thousand bucks.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to costs, you have to focus on the bottom line. This is crucial.
Because if you think that web development costs are costs that are absolutely extra and are just luxuries, spending any money would make you feel bad. It would seem excessive. But if you look at the funds you’re spending as an investment in your business that would produce a return, then you would be able to position your business for a better bottom line in the future.
The key is to decide on putting up a website that is professional enough to fit your current investment resources. It may not be the most ideal form of your website, but it at least gets your foot in the door.
You’re not pinching pennies. Instead, you’re investing in your company’s future. Once your cash flow improves, you can then continue to reinvest to build up the quality of your site, which leads to even more revenue in the future.
In other words, you’re looking at your website as an asset, not as some expense that you just have to suffer. See the difference in attitude? They lead to totally different places.
How to Calculate How Much a Website Will Cost
You have to look at the total cost of what’s involved in your website. Here is an itemized breakdown:
You have to get a contract with a hosting company. They serve up your files from the internet. Without hosting, nobody will be able to access your website.
There are many companies providing hosting services. These are HostGator, Bluehost, InMotion, GoDaddy, and many more. There are actually quite a large number of hosting companies on the internet.
GoDaddy is a good initial choice because they’re very cheap. You can get their most basic hosting package starting from as little as $7 per month.
You have to pick a domain name for your local business. Usually, this is the name of your local business.
For example, if you own Joe’s Pizzeria, that’s a good domain name. Just put a .com at the end.
You have to pay an annual fee for your domain. The domain name is actually a word place-marker for your actual web address.
Web addresses on the internet are numbers. Since most people suck at remembering numbers but are good at remembering names, domain names exist. You’re essentially just paying an annual placeholder fee so people can search for your business by its name, not its computer web address.
There are many options available for this online. There are many template-based platforms you could use. You can even use free designs that designers have made available to the general public.
There are also designs that are custom made. In other words, you have to hire an actual web designer to craft a unique look for your website. You have many options when it comes to design.
WordPress Extensions and Plug-ins
A lot of professional developers put up websites using a content management software called WordPress. WordPress is very versatile and can enable your business’ website to look like millions of other websites. This is due to its plug-in, theme, and extension architecture.
One rule of thumb to keep in mind: if you would like to install a wide range of plug-ins for your websites so it can do many things, expect your web development to become more expensive.
Another key factor in determining the cost of a website involves complexity. If you want your website to have a lot of bells and whistles, and you want it to process the data your visitors input, be prepared to pay quite a bit of money.
Those features require coding. They require expert skill sets. You have to pay for those.
How to Put Up a Small Local Business Website
What follows is some friendly advice for local small business owners who just want to put up a website.
You’ve already resolved in your head that you need to put up a website. Congratulations. The next step is to put together a plan so you can put up a website for your small local business sooner rather than later.
First things first, select the best platform for your website
There are many different platforms that enable people to put up websites. These are content management software platforms.
We suggest that you use WordPress. WordPress is a tried and proven platform used by tens of millions of websites all over the internet. It is free software, and it is battle-tested. In other words, every feature of this software enables people to put up websites very quickly.
It’s very easy to use, and it’s extremely versatile. You can make your website look like almost any other website on the internet. That’s how versatile it could be.
It also has a lot of free customization options made by third parties. It’s also very robust so developers can come up with amazing front ends based on the WordPress engine.
Another option we can recommend is Squarespace. This is an online publishing platform that does everything for you.
You don’t have to worry about your domain, you don’t have to worry about hosting, you don’t even have to worry about design because you can pick through the many different templates that they make available.
If you’d like to know more about how to put up a local business website using SquareSpace, click here.
Finally, you might want to consider Drupal. If you are very tech savvy or you would like a CMS that is not based on WordPress, check out Drupal.
Please understand that Drupal is for experienced or advanced users. It is not for total rookies. If you know what you’re doing, click here to learn more about Drupal.
The Final Word: A Little Price Perspective Goes a Long Way
We want you to think about two things here. First, how much would it cost for you to put up a website? Knowing what you know now, can you eyeball how much your budget should be if you’re going to put up a website?
Next, think about how much business you would lose in the span of 1 year, 2 years and 5 years, if you absolutely refuse to put up a website. What number can you come up with? It should be absolutely clear that refusing to put up a website because of initial costs is a losing proposition.
If you’re still on the fence, please take note of this Capital One survey study. According to the survey of small businesses throughout the united States, 56% of respondents say they’ve already put up a website for their local company.
This tells you two important facts. First of all, 56% of your competitors are in a better position than you. Second, there is still time for you to catch up to them.
Remember, there are only 56% who put up a site. This means 44% haven’t bothered. This is an opportunity for you. Don’t let the cost of web development give you second thoughts.
Putting up a site doesn’t have to be hard, complicated or particularly expensive. Contact us today to get the expert, affordable service you need to unleash the competitive advantages a web site presence makes possible for your local business.
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