Asking a web designer if your business needs a website might seem a bit like asking a car salesman if you need a new car. But, as I’m not interested in trying to “convince” anyone to do business with me, my goal with this article is to bring to light some of the advantages and benefits that a professional, 100% owned website can provide for your business.
One of the first perks to owning your own website that most business owners don’t give much consideration to is the fact that you actually own it. This might seem obvious at first but I’m always surprised by the number of people that don’t know the difference between owning a website and effectively just renting their site.
There is no shortage of website building services that provide an easy-to-use, drag and drop website builder interface that can in fact get a website up and running for your business in a relatively short period of time. But, before jumping into any service that looks slick and fits within your budget, ask yourself, “Will I own the content on my site?”. Are you able to download a backup of your website database, export your content, create a mailing list in a 3rd party platform or even take your website to another company should you have issues with this one? And that’s not even addressing the fact of whether or not you will be able to hold onto organic traffic through search engine rankings should you outgrow the capabilities of your current provider.
This isn’t to say that I would never recommend one of these software-as-a-service type services because I have. If a business is just getting started, they have a limited budget and their needs are relatively basic it might make sense in that particular instance. But an established business or mission-critical projects might want to think twice before investing too much of their marketing efforts into a service that, if disappeared tomorrow, the business would be left with nothing.
Freedom & Flexibility
An extremely important aspect of having your own website is freedom. The freedom to position your business, your branding, and your voice any way you vision without having to follow guidelines or jump through hoops to keep your content seen on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube can be great avenues to get your products and services noticed, but do you really want your entire online presence to be at the whim of the ever-changing guidelines and regulations of these tech-giants, who may, or may not, find it profitable to keep your business pages in the spotlight. I wouldn’t.
I have had business owners tell me in the past that they’re completely happy with their online presence being solely on Facebook. While this might seem okay for businesses who are generating a lot of buzz at this point in time, what happens when that stops? What happens when your business outgrows the tools or capabilities that these social media websites offer for your very specific business model?
I’m not trying to say it’s not a good idea to be active on these social media websites, because it can be very beneficial. Many small businesses are alive and well today directly because of these services. But just like any responsible adult planning for the future, it’s a good idea to lead these channels and efforts into a central point of your marketing that you own. Which leads me to my next point…
Central Hub of Your Marketing Efforts
Your website should act as the central hub of all of your online marketing efforts. All of your social media accounts, marketing emails, and other online marketing campaigns should lead your potential prospects back to your marketing hub, your website.
Your website can feature reviews (that you choose!) from around the web, testimonials, and past projects that give visitors a better idea of who they’re working with. You can incorporate A/B testing with different page layouts or content to see which converts better and you can even funnel very specific marketing campaigns directly to pages designed specifically for that campaign.
Simply put, making your 100% owned, flexible website the central gathering point of where all of your marketing efforts lead visitors to can really open the doors and provide you with unlimited possibilities to capitalize on these leads!
One of the best answers to “Do I need a website” is simply asking, “Can you afford not to?”. Many people look at their website as an expense, similar to them buying an ad in the local paper or putting up a billboard sign on the highway. Your website should be cultivated into an income/lead-producing machine. By creating quality content and adding real value for your target audience, you can start building a website that generates free, highly targeted, and recurring traffic from search engines that rank your website above your competitors for simply being better and having quality, useful information.
Way too many businesses are content with spending too much money on pay-per-click ads or Facebook campaign ads that require them to keep dumping money into in order to continue producing the same result month after month. A quality website with a solid foundation and strong SEO has the potential to completely reshape how your business acquires leads and can help you really understand the value of providing value.
Meet the Expectation
Finally, one of the most obvious reasons to have a website is that your customers will assume you already have one. They will want to research your business online, read about your past projects, see your reviews, and try to get a better idea of who they are considering for business.
Nothing will hit your professionalism and credibility harder than a customer searching for your business and seeing your competitor with you nowhere to be found. Why would any consumer do business with a company when they can’t find any information about their products and services online? Especially when they run across several competitors where that information is readily available.
These are the best reasons and my typical responses to the question “Do I need a website”. Every business and every business owner is different and is going to require different strategies and efforts in order to succeed. My main goal with my clients that I work with is to try to get them to think outside the box and see their website as the creative and powerful tool for what it is. As the business owner, they will be able to better understand and fully grasp the potential that their website can offer in their business. It’s just my job to give the platform and tools to do it.