It’s hard to believe that in 2016 almost half of all small businesses in the U.S. do not have websites for their companies, especially when 70-80% of customers do online research before making a purchase or choosing a service. Does your small business have a website? If not, it’s time for you to consider creating one and making it exciting and useful for your customers.
Marketing professionals will tell you that having a good website improves your brand awareness, visibility, and customer service as well as attracts new customers. If those things are important to your business, then you definitely need a website. In the early days of the interwebs, building a website required knowledge of HTML and some special tech skills. Today, even the most technically-challenged can put a quick website together.
Should you do it yourself (DIY) with your website design or have it done for you (DFY) by a professional?
There are several types of business websites. A brochure site is simple, contains basic information about your company and its products or services, shows samples of your products, and gives customers a way to locate and contact you. Brochure websites are all about you, your business, your product. You don’t actually sell your product online, and it doesn’t require a lot of behind-the-scenes wizardry.
Lead generation websites are more interactive. They position you as an authority in your field, but offer opportunities for your customers to interact with your content which can lead to new sales and clients. Lead generation websites are designed to put the needs of your customers first, answer their questions easily and offer your solutions. These sites are all about your customer and should integrate seamlessly with all your social media marketing tools.
An e-commerce website (for selling online) is more complicated. It has features that allow it to handle online sales and payment processing as well as showcase your products and how they help your customers. E-commerce sites require special security features and compliance with lots of federal laws. If you plan to sell your products online, you need an e-commerce website.
Are you ready to create a business website?
Here’s a quick chart to help you decide if you should DIY or DFY.
|DIY – Do it Yourself if:||DFY – Have it Done for You if:|
|Less than 20% of your business is generated from your website||You expect 25 – 100% of your business to be generated from your website|
|You have enough technical skills to a least create a PowerPoint presentation||You have no technical expertise or desire to learn how to make a website|
|You or an employee has time to design and update your site regularly||You plan for your business to grow over time|
|You want complete control over your content and design||You want customization beyond what drag and drop web builder programs can offer you|
|You are a good copywriter||You need custom apps for mobile and online sales|
|You don’t care about your website showing up in Google searches (or you know enough about SEO to make it work)||You want high ranking in Google searches|
|You don’t plan to change websites or web hosts in a few years (can be extremely costly)||You want website stats that help you determine the success of your web presence|
If you do plan to do it yourself, there are a number of easy-to-use website builders like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly that you can use to design your site and get it up and running in a matter of hours and for less than $100. If you just want a quick brochure site or a simple lead-generation site that gives your business a web presence, that’s a good way to begin. Just remember, re-designing and moving a site later on can be costly and time-consuming.
WordPress is another popular option. It’s a complete content management system. You can begin a WordPress site for free and later on add reasonably-priced premium features that allow you to make it more complex.
Professional website design can cost you anywhere from $1000 to $100,000, depending on how complex you need the site to be, but increased sales and leads, plus the time and headaches it saves, may be well worth it. A well-done professional website will earn back its cost in short order. If you decide to go pro, talk to other business owners to get recommendations for reputable local designers in your area.
Your website is your best – and often first – marketing tool. Make it work for you and your customers.
Our next blog post will be “Tips for Designing a Small Business Website”. Whether you plan to do it yourself or have it done for you, we’ll help you understand the key features your business website should have and show you some examples of what works and what doesn’t.