If you’re a business owner on the fence about creating a website, I’ll save you some time—you need one. A good one. A professionally designed, lead-catching, sales-increasing, brand-differentiating website.
Consumer behavior changes over time to adapt to modern technology, and consumer behavior has changed to adapt to the digital age. I’ll give you an example—the Yellow Pages. The telephone was a disruptive new technology in the late 1800s and changed the way consumers did business. As more and more households began to use the telephone directory to find local products and services, business owners realized advertising in it was a smart bet. By the 1930s, advertising in the Yellow Pages was standard operating procedure for most businesses. It made perfect sense—the majority of U.S. households used the directory on a daily basis.
Then came the world wide web and a new disruption to the commercial status quo: the digital transformation. As more and more consumers realized they could find what they needed online faster and more effectively than a phone book, behavior shifted away from using the printed directory. By 2011, 70 percent of all Americans rarely or never used printed phone directories. Also in 2011, more than 59 percent of consumers were already going online to find local businesses.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the number of consumers that go online to find a local business has jumped to 97 percent. If you want them to choose your company, you need to be found online—meaning you need a website.
WHY YOU NEED A WEBSITE IN 2019—NO MATTER WHAT INDUSTRY YOU’RE IN
Look, in 2019, you need a website. You needed one the day you started your business, but better late than never.
At Blue Corona, small business success is our middle name. We WANT you to succeed. So, in this article, I’ll cover:
- Eight non-negotiable reasons why you need a website
- Common objections debunked
- How much a website costs
- How to make a website for your business
Why You Need a Website No Matter Your Industry—8 Non-Negotiable Reasons
Deloitte’s analysis in Connected Small Businesses in the United States found that digitally advanced small businesses:
- Earned two times as much revenue per employee
- Experienced revenue growth over the previous year that was nearly four times as high
- Were almost three times as likely to be creating jobs over the previous year
- Had an average employment growth rate that was more than six times as high
This applies to all industries, even industrial and manufacturing. Digital advancement starts with a website. If that’s not enough to convince you, here are eight non-negotiable reasons you need not just a website, but an optimized, accessible one.
REASON #1: 30 PERCENT OF CONSUMERS WON’T CONSIDER A BUSINESS WITHOUT A WEBSITE
Your website is your number one marketing asset because we live in a digital age. Americans spend on average 23.6 hours online per week and are on their mobile devices for up to five hours per day. By now, consumers expect companies to have an online presence (including a website) and will consider a company that DOESN’T have one as less professional.
REASON #2: PEOPLE ARE SEARCHING FOR YOU ONLINE
One of the benefits of having a website for small businesses is to be where your consumers are. There’s a reason so many companies invest in a website with search engine optimization (SEO): 97 percent of people go online to find a local business, and 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. Believe it or not, there are 3.5 billion searches on Google per day, and at this very moment, there is someone in your area online and searching for your exact service. Guess who’s getting their business? Not you.
REASON #3: THE MAJORITY OF OF CONSUMERS USE WEBSITES TO FIND AND ENGAGE WITH BUSINESSES
Yup. According to LSA’s (Local Search Association) April 2017 report, “The Digital Consumer Study,” 63 percent of consumers primarily use a company’s website to find and engage with businesses. That’s a pretty big chunk of consumers. Combine that with the fact that 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine—you do the math. Another compelling reason your business needs a website? Research by YellowPages and LSA found that, on average, consumers use approximately three sources before making an individual purchase decision, and 30 percent automatically strike a business from consideration if they don’t have a website.
REASON #4: COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS IN EVERY INDUSTRY—INCLUDING B2B, INDUSTRIAL, AND MANUFACTURING—ARE INFLUENCED BY DIGITAL WEBSITE CONTENT
The majority of companies that don’t have a website say it’s because their industry isn’t online. I hear this mostly from business owners in the B2B, industrial, and manufacturing industries.
If that’s you, I’m gonna have to call you out on that.
A full 75 percent of B2B buyers say digital website content significantly impacts their buying decision, and 62 percent say they can finalize their purchase selection criteria based on a website’s digital content alone.
The average B2B buyer now makes an average of 12 online searches before interacting with a vendor’s website, and they are already 57 percent of the way through the buying process before they want to speak with a sales representative. Even for industrial and manufacturing companies—67 percent of purchases are influenced by digital. Not only that, but half of all B2B customers today also expect a supplier’s website to be a helpful channel and more than a third expect the site to be their most helpful channel.
REASON #5: 75 PERCENT OF CONSUMERS ADMIT TO MAKING JUDGMENTS ON A COMPANY’S CREDIBILITY BASED ON THE COMPANY’S WEBSITE DESIGN
Not having a website makes consumers trust you less. In fact, in 2018, 75 percent of people admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on website design. People are more likely to do business with a company they trust, and a website is the first place they go to check for credentials, reviews, and awards.
Beware, though—if you have a bad website design, it won’t help you at all. You have 10 seconds to leave an impression on website visitors and tell them what they’ll get out of your website and company. After this time (and oftentimes before), they’ll leave.
REASON #6: YOU NEED TO ANSWER BASIC QUESTIONS QUICKLY
This is especially true for B2B companies. People visit your website when they want to know something or do something. They also expect immediate gratification, which means visitors should be able to answer three questions within three seconds of landing on your website:
- Who are you?
- What do you do/offer?
- How do I contact you?
We live in an age of NOW, where consumers want the information they seek immediately—meaning your company’s website should answer each of the questions above without the user needing to scroll down the page at all.
REASON #7: IT WILL HELP YOU BEAT THE GOLIATHS IN YOUR INDUSTRY
Did you know that having a website can help you beat the Goliaths in your industry? It can if it’s optimized for search. Take Villa Lagoon Tile. They compete heavily with big-box tile stores but have no trouble holding their own thanks to their website and their prominent position in the search results page.
REASON #8: SOCIAL MEDIA REACH IS DIMINISHING
So, you think you don’t need a website because you’re on Facebook.
Great, so is every other business in America. You need a website even if you have a Facebook page.
And guess what? It’s getting harder for businesses to connect with users on the platform. Within a week of the last Facebook algorithm update, organic reach plummeted lower than it was already. Another bummer? In 2018, people spent 50 million fewer hours on the platform than they did in 2017.
While social media can help your business grow, don’t bank on using it as your sole marketing channel, especially in the future.
Common Objections Business Owners Make Against Having a Website
We work with small businesses every day, and when it comes to not having a website, we’ve heard just about every excuse on the planet—and they’re all incredibly misguided. I’ve listed the most common objections below, and our typical responses.
OBJECTION #1: “MY BUSINESS IS TOO SMALL, AND I DON’T HAVE THE BUDGET FOR A WEBSITE.”
This is the most common objection we hear from small business owners.
Look—your website is your number one marketing asset. Saying you don’t have the budget for it is like saying you don’t have the budget for an LLC license—you’re going to get in big trouble later if you don’t fork over that initial investment.
Get a website—it doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive, but it needs to exist, and it needs to be able to be found by search engines.
OBJECTION #2: “I ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH BUSINESS. I DON’T NEED A WEBSITE.”
Even if you have more business than you can handle, you need a website, no ifs ands or buts. I recently read an article on website ownership that argued against this. Here’s an excerpt:
“Recently I went to a popular restaurant in a tiny Virginia town to try and sell the owners a website. The restaurant was located right on the waterfront overlooking Chincoteague Bay. I went just before lunchtime in the dead of winter on a weekday. I figured business would be slow and I could chat briefly with the owner.
The owner was gracious and allowed me to run through the basic benefits giving me her full attention — even taking a few notes. I figured I had a good chance of closing this deal. I finally said, ‘Do you think a website is something you’d be interested in hearing more about?’
This was her reply: ‘We opened this place as a bait and tackle shop. Then people wanted coffee so we provided that. Then some asked for sandwiches, so we provided that. Later they wanted a few tables where they could sit and chat while they ate their sandwiches, so we got tables and chairs and began doing lunches. That led to dinners. Then we didn’t have enough room so we added the screened in porch for the summer. People loved the porch so much that we winterized for the colder months. Now that it’s January, we thought we might be able to close one day a week and get some time off. But we can’t. We’re too busy. We’ve never advertised and we’re tired. If a website is going to bring more people in here — no thanks!’”
Oh, how wrong that business owner is. If that were my client, here’s what I would have said:
“A website doesn’t need to be built for the purpose of adding new customers. According to the National Restaurant Association, 83 percent of Americans look up dining locations, directions and hours of operation on their smartphones or tablets. Did you ever think that your customers—now and future—may like to see specials and menu items while they’re on the go? What if they’re in a hurry and want to order quickly and leave? What if they want to know your hours and can’t make a phone call? A good website will answer basic questions right away—which could free up time if you’re spending a lot of it answering questions on the phone.
You can add a reservation widget, which again can save your hosts time and make operations more efficient. You can build an online community with recipes, blogs, and places to get local produce. You can become not only a local favorite, you can gain popularity nationwide and turn your brand into a product all its own. There is SO MUCH a website can do to boost your bottom line without adding more customers, and while you may have enough customers now, you never know what the next decade will bring. It’s best to get your foot in the door with digital now in the event that it’s necessary in the future.”
OBJECTION #2: “I HAVE A GUY THAT SAID HE COULD MAKE ME A WEBSITE FOR FREE.”
This is a bad idea unless that guy’s career is in web design for your industry. Having a friend or family member make your website is like trusting a handyman to lay the foundation of a skyscraper. A LOT goes into having an optimized website—SEO optimization, file compression, responsive design, schema markup, etc.—and if it isn’t built on the right foundation, it will likely topple over.
Even if you DO have a professional web designer as a friend, be careful—different industries have different website design standards. For example, a website for health services will have completely different components and markup than a website for the HVAC industry.
OBJECTION #3: “OUR CUSTOMERS AREN’T BIG COMPUTER USERS.”
Your customers aren’t “computer users”? That’s baloney. What this business owner is forgetting is that “computer users” aren’t just people using desktop computers. It also includes people browsing websites, social media, and apps on mobile devices.
Not only do 89 percent of US adults use the internet, but 77 percent of them own a smartphone, and in 2016, mobile web traffic outpaced desktop web traffic for the first time.
Smartphone = computer user.
OBJECTION #4: I DON’T NEED A WEBSITE BECAUSE MY INDUSTRY DOESN’T NEED ONE/I’M NOT AN ECOMMERCE OR AN ONLINE BUSINESS.
This is a HUGE misconception a lot of people have. Just because you’re not ecommerce does not mean you don’t need a website. Consumers—even B2B buyers—still need to find you, learn about you, and trust you because they buy from you. The large majority of our clients aren’t ecommerce, and each one of them has seen considerable revenue growth from having a website.
How Much Does a Website Cost?
A website can cost anywhere from free to upwards of 100 grand.
For example, if you choose to DIY with a platform like SquareSpace, you’ll pay a low monthly fee to lease a spot on their platform. On the other end of the spectrum is a completely custom website from a professional website design company tailored for your business needs. With these, you’re looking at an investment of a few thousand dollars.
Do not let a price tag deter you from creating a website. If you’re a one-man operation with zero budget, at least get a basic website that you can jazz up later when you have a better cash flow.
Here’s what goes into the cost of a website:
- Hosting – This is the service or company providing space on the internet for your website. Hosting providers include GoDaddy, InMotion, and others. We recommend you use GoDaddy. Hosting is charged monthly and typically costs $7 and up.
- Domain name – This is shown as www.yourcompany.com, and is usually a yearly payment. WordPress, as an example, charges $14.99 per year for your domain name.
- Design – Some designs are free, other cost money.
- Plugins and extensions – Typically, the more plugins you want, the more expensive a website gets.
- Complexity of design – The more customized your website is, the more expensive it is
How to Make a Website for Your Small Business
When starting out in web design, the first concept you need to understand is website ownership. A lot of small businesses dig themselves in a hole because they don’t know the jargon of web contracts. You can learn about website ownership here.
BEST WEBSITE PLATFORMS
Not all website design platforms are created equal, but there are four that work better than others, especially for beginners:
WordPress: Most of our clients are hosted on WordPress. They’re upfront about website ownership, and the structure of the websites is extremely user-friendly and adaptable. You can create everything from basic, free websites to one like ours.
SquareSpace: This is excellent for beginners and ecommerce. It’s extremely easy to use and is easy to transfer to a more robust platform when you’re ready. Be careful, however—you typically do not “own” your website on SquareSpace, you lease it.
Unbounce: Unbounce is great for small projects and single web pages. It’s what we use when we want a one-off landing page campaign or a microsite campaign. It has website templates you can choose or you can build one from scratch on your own.
Drupal: While Drupal is more advanced, it’s an excellent alternative to WordPress. We do not recommend you attempt to DIY on this platform.
Final Takeaway: The Price of Having a Website Is Much Lower than the Price of Getting Left Behind
A recent Capital One study found that only 56 percent of small businesses say they have a company website.
That should tell you two things:
- 56 percent of businesses are doing better than yours
- You still have a chance to beat 44 percent of them if you get a website now
Look, anyone who tells you your business doesn’t need a website is just plain wrong. Those experts who say you don’t need a website unless you’re an online business or an ecommerce business