As a small business owner, you will have witnessed first-hand how the Internet has had a huge impact on customers buying habits. In fact by now, unless your business is based in a cave in the outer reaches of Siberia you should have either set up a website or at the very least had somebody seriously suggest that you should. Having a website and online presence is no longer an option for businesses any more. Without being online your business is going to miss out on huge opportunities.
Despite all of the evidence, it is surprising to discover that there are still some business owners who remain skeptical, not fully convinced that having a website really is necessary. One of the most common reasons given to us for not going online is the business owner feels a website would take too much time and energy to set up or that they are a luxury not a necessity. Others claim it would be a waste of time. They get enough business from passing trade so they don’t need to bother going online at all.
Even if a business is doing well from passing trade at the moment, it is still good sense to go online. If you don’t, not only will your current customers who use the internet for as part of everyday life be surprised that you are not online but you will lose thousands of potential new customers. Here are some reasons why having a website is worth far more than the small cost of setting it up and running it.
1) Sell to a wider audience
Your bricks and mortar business is restricted to passing trade and how many people are in town that day. If you want to reach out to a wider audience traditional means of advertising in the local press, radio, TV and flyers are very expensive. On the Internet however, you can easily expand your brand to a global audience for a fraction of the cost or even free using clever online marketing and search engine optimization.
2) People look for local businesses online using their smartphones
Smartphones can literally put your business at your potential customer’s fingertips. Statistics show customers regularly use their smartphones to find local businesses close to where they are. If they are using the Internet to search online for local businesses, your business really needs to be there so that they can find you. If it isn’t, they will just buy from your competitor instead.
3) You can be open 24 hours a day
How much would it cost in staff wages and electric bills if you were to keep your bricks and mortar business open 24 hours per day? Would you not be excited if you could keep your business open 24 hours a day without losing any money in the process? Not just that but you could be receiving orders from all over the world no matter what time it was. That is exactly what the Internet allows you to do. Even if your business does not actually sell a physical product, people can always contact you via email or learn about your business without waiting for you to open during your normal business hours.
4) People use the Internet to find out more about businesses they already know about.
Don’t think you should be online so that only brand new customers can find your business. One of the most common ways people use the Internet is for your existing customers and people who already know about your business to look online for research. They want to know things like: What time does the local coffee shop open? Are there any special deals at my dry-cleaners? Does my favorite Chinese restaurant have vegetarian options? If you want your customers to be able to know everything about your business, a website is the perfect way of making the information available whenever they want it.
5) Build a loyal following
Although the Internet is a huge, think of it as more than a vast wilderness to try and promote your business. The Internet is a community and with sites like Facebook and Twitter you can communicate and engage with your customers no matter which part of the world they come from as if they were your friends. This allows you to connect with your customers on an emotional and personal level, which is much more effective than an ad in a local newspaper or a flyer. When you engage with them you will build a loyal following of fans and customers who will buy from you again and again.
6) Your competition is already there
Spend a few minutes on Google and search for businesses similar to yours in your local area. The chances are your competitors will already have a presence on the Internet. If they are, why let them steal all of the customers when you could have a website quickly and easily?
7) Stay current
Having a website means you can always appear up to date to your customers. You can share the latest news, update your inventory, add relevant information you think your customers should know and even answer customer’s questions almost immediately. So while your bricks and mortar business might not be open 24 hours a day, your website is. It is too good an opportunity to miss.
8) Promote your site for free
Google wants your business to succeed. It is your company’s best friend. It is constantly improving to make sure that when people search for businesses like yours, they will find you. Being found on Google is completely free and will boost your profits. When you see the potential you will soon want to explore other avenues of online marketing, all of which deliver equally exciting results and a huge profit for your business.