Whether people are sick of working for large corporations, people are looking for a better work/life balance, or ‘simply’ pursuing a dream, there has been a surge in the volume of small businesses and startups over the past decade. The idea of working for your own benefit and owning your own business has been attracting people young and old. Moreover, small businesses also provide a great opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to bring their new products and services to life.
However, it’s simply not possible for small businesses to undertake marketing like large corporations, for the simple reason that they do not have access to the same funds and resources. However, small businesses have one clear advantage over larger organisations: agility. Whilst it can take considerable time for a large organisation to “turn the ship” in one way or another – whether it is a result of stakeholder buy-in, culture or wider business strategy, these businesses simply can’t compete.
The Internet is a great leveling field for both small and big business, allowing the opportunity to reach target markets near and wide, without spending a fortune.
Why Does A Small Business Need a Website
At the centre of all online marketing efforts should be your small business website – where you hold all the power to communicate, update, and sell to your audience. It is also the one place where you have complete transparency on the performance and traffic to your website – rather than seeing a little “glimpse” that social platforms allow.
Whether your business thrives on dealings in person, in an office or on line, there is a very strong case for your business to be online. Let’s start with the typical “offline” business. How do new potential customers – or current customers – know that you exist if you aren’t online? Having a “Google My Business” account, or a Yellow Pages listing is one thing, but people are looking for more than that when they are searching for businesses online.
Let’s back that up with some numbers –
- 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Nectafy)
- 97% searched online to find a local business (Source: Hubspot)
- 72% of consumers, who search for local businesses, end up visiting stores in the local vicinity. (Hubspot)
- 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results.
and here’s the show stopper –
Search beats social media by more than 300% as a traffic source. (imForza)
Small businesses need a website to provide information to prospects and customers, in addition to providing the opportunity to expand to online trading or services that can allow a customer to deal with the business while sitting at home (and when your shop or office is closed!). Your website never rests.
The Benefits of a Website
Having a website gives all businesses a platform that can be utilised to interact with customers. Whether this be educating and informing customers, handling customer queries and complaints or allowing customers to transact with you. By having a website, a business gives its customers the ability to be in touch with your business at any time of day or night, thereby providing flexibility in our increasingly time-poor society.
Beyond transactions, a website also makes it easier businesses to be found online through search engine optimisation. Your website can be promoted via social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest – just to name a few. An attractive post and a single link to the website can allow you to gather a number of customers from all over the world, we are well past the day of limiting our customers to the local area.
Websites are a great way for a small business to explore the market, allow the possibility of expansion, and all with a moderate investment.
The critical elements of a small business website
We have written many articles on website design, but in this article we are going to give you a little “cheat sheet” as to what you need to look for when considering your website options. And there are LOTS of those. Wix, SquareSpace, GoDaddy, Shopify, BigCommerce, Weebly…. need we go on?! However, there is one big weakness in all those builders I just mentioned – you never actually OWN your website. You may put in countless days, weeks, hours on improving your website, but if you don’t keep up your subscription, then “whammo” your content is gone. On the other hand, using an open source content management system such as WordPress or Drupal allows you to own and control your website, move it between different hosting locations and more. On the flip side, the advantage of many of these builders is the simplicity of setting up a site – many with wizard style setup and/or ready-to-go templates that you simply drop your own content into. Additionally, in many instances you are not required to outlay an initial investment beyond a hundred dollars to get started.
The bottom line is that your small business website needs to be fast, efficient, is user friendly, and provides the information your visitors are looking for – quickly and easily. Doing this will not only keep your customers happy but will also attract new customers. Here’s some of the critical things you need to check out when looking to set up a website for your small business:
1. A Great Back-End
The back-end of the website is where the interaction a customer has with the website is determined. It governs how fast the processes of the website take place and how smooth they are. Hence, you need to have a great back-end for the users to have a great experience. The back-end needs to well coded, have appropriate data structures, be smooth, and have minimal time complexity. Such things make using the website faster and more efficient.
2. A Smooth Front-End
The front-end is what a user sees on a website. For some website designs, the front-end is incredibly crowded and includes many things, such as videos or pop-ups. These kinds of jump in your face aspects usually face the ire of the customers. No one wants to have to close two different pop-ups and a video before they can start interacting with the website. This is especially true for newer customers. Therefore, you need an unobtrusive and smooth front-end that promotes user interaction.
3. Add An Appropriate Amount of Graphics
Your website needs to be attractive, and one great way of doing that is to have graphics here and there to ensure that it looks good and has something that will attract the eye beyond just text. For small business website designs, graphics are a great way to attract new customers. People might just stay around to see the graphics that caught their eye and spend more time on website. By doing so, there’s a great chance they might interact with it and end up dealing with the business.
4. You Need To Track Customer Interaction
A website is never complete. You need to constantly update it now and again to promote user experience. The updates are based on the way users interact with the website. Therefore, you need to see how they are interacting with the website, what parts of the website they spend more time on, what parts they don’t, and everything in between. By doing so, you ensure that you can deal with customer problems before they get to complain. To track information such as this, cookies can be used. There are many different ways and it’s up to you to maintain your design in a manner that makes your customers happy.