Branding

Why your business needs a website – part one

By Mark Ainsworth

It is practically a given, now, that any legitimate and successful business will have a website, as well as a social media presence.

However, some companies feel that with a popular facebook page, instagram account or Twitter presence, they can forego an actual website. Don’t be fooled! A good, professional website could be the key to the success of your business. Here are some of the reasons why.

A website can increase your customer base

You can’t get away from it – the internet is everywhere. Figures from the Office of National Statistics have found that around 90% of all adults in the UK are regularly online, and this figure grows to more than 99% when you look at young people aged 18-24. If you want a guaranteed way to reach your target audience, whoever they are, the internet is your answer.

According to ComScore, 93% of business purchase decisions begin with a simple internet search, whilst for consumer purchases this is around 50%. People are online all day every day, on computers at work and on their smartphones the rest of the time. The internet helps users to instantly find out more about products, services, events and promotions. Thus it is critical to not only have an internet presence, but also be SEO-optimised to ensure that your site ranks high in search engine results.

However, this is not the only way that potential customers find out about businesses. Word of mouth has always and will always be a crucial way to advertise. The easiest way to make a sale, based on interest raised through word of mouth, is to capitalise on the customer’s interest with a strong web presence.

Websites build trust and help maintain your existing customer base

Taking someone from interested party to customer is partly down to trust and reputation, and a website can help with this. If a potential customer has heard of your product or service and searched online for you, it looks odd if your business doesn’t have an official website. Even if you have a great facebook page, most legitimate companies have a dedicated website these days and not having one may sow a seed of doubt about your credibility and longevity.

A website is the perfect place to showcase great customer reviews, and provide a link to social networking where customers can see other reviews and converse with your existing customer base. Statistics show that more than 77% of consumers have looked at reviews online before committing to a purchase, so this could be the way that you close a sale. You can also offer better deals, vouchers and reward schemes for people that sign up for your website, helping to compile a list of warm leads that will be easier to convert to regular customers.

Making the right first impression

If you spend a lot of money on one advertising tool, make sure that it is your website. Even if yours is a predominantly physical business (such as a high street store or restaurant), it is more than likely that potential customers will look you up before they make a decision to visit you. Consumers today make most of their decisions online and need to feel a connection or relationship with a business before they will choose it. A survey by Business 2 Community found that 94% of people stated web design to be a major player in whether they mistrust or reject a company on sight. This decision will be made within 10 seconds, so the visual appeal of the sight must be a priority.

Other important elements to your site which will help to grab a customer quickly are:

  • A site that is easy to navigate. Keep pages to a minimum. Make everything clear and easy to find and add a ‘contact us’ form so people aren’t searching around for an email address.
  • Factual and interesting content. Try to update regularly with news, deals and promotions that will make it worth visiting your site more than once.
  • Simple and fun to look at. Look at other sites for companies offering similar products to you for inspiration.
  • Easy conversion. Make it simple for customers to make a purchase. Don’t ask too many questions or drag them through a sign up process if you can help it. Make the sale first, then ask questions.
  • Fast load times. According to Kissmetrics, 40% of customers will leave a website if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load, so keeping load times as low as possible is crucial.

Improved customer engagement

For a one-off customer to become part of your dedicated customer base, you need them to become engaged with your business. Statistics show that very engaged customers spend 23% more than less engaged customers. This means that you need to keep them interested and educated, as well as feeling that they have a connection with your company. A website is the ideal place to do this, as this is where you can keep a steady flow of regularly updated SEO content, such as a blog, that gives the consumer a reason to keep coming back, besides just to make purchases.

SmartInsights.com found that 72% of businesses reported email newsletters as a positive source of online customer engagement, helping to give something back to customers in the form of new information or useful deals. Newsletters and blogging also help you as a business to underline your company’s vision and personality, giving you more character in the minds of your customers. A blog can also spark conversations, if you use it to ask questions or start debates, either on your site itself or linking back to social media.

Provides up to date information

One of the main issues with print advertising, from posters to flyers, and even in-store advertising, is that the second something changes, your literature is out of date. Out of date prices, offers and product information can lead to disgruntled customers and bad reviews, or even losing a customer altogether.

Thanks to Content Management Systems (CRM), your web design company can provide you with a site that you have full access to, and can update as and when you need to.

CRM systems such as WordPress and Drupal are simple to use, even for those without much internet knowledge, with intuitive dashboards and multiple users able to connect at once. Various handy tools can be used to keep the site updated, such as stock control tools which add customers to waiting lists if something they want goes out of stock. Blogs can be added, and widgets can update social media at the same time to inform followers of changes as they happen.

Find out more about CRM systems in part two, as well as finding out what crucial elements a successful business website will need.

The MaxWeb team can help you with all your website requirements, from initial design to the finished product – and everything in between. To find out more please call us on 0151 652 4777 or email info@maxwebsolutions.co.uk and ask to speak to our website development team.

Next Article

Why your business needs a website – part two

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