online marketing, Technology

Yes, your small business still needs a website — here’s why

Craig Reardon /

It’s a question that comes up often in small business forums. And one that, despite the terabytes of evidence answering it, just doesn’t want to go away.

That question is simply: why does my small business need a website?

The knee jerk reaction is to wonder where the person asking the question has been the past decade. But seeing as it continues to be asked, clearly a more reasoned answer is required.

Here’s how I would answer.

Nowadays, a website is likely to be the most important promotional tool your business will ever need, for the following reasons.

1. First port of call for your customers

Nowadays the very first thing people will do when wanting to find out about your business is look for, and at, your website. Quite simply, if you don’t have one to visit, you are very unlikely to get their business. It’s that simple.

2. Credibility

Websites are now the ultimate credibility piece. The lack of a website will make customers question your fundamental business savvy. You just can’t be serious if you don’t have a website because it is the most basic of customer service tools — even more so than that other ubiquitous promotional tool, the business card.

However, there is a caveat with this reason and that is that the website is as professional as possible. If not, it may have the opposite effect and reduce your credibility in the eyes of the customer.

3. Free leads

The world wide web can only be navigated fully with comprehensive search engines. But they aren’t just used to guide customers looking for your website; they’re also the ultimate shopping assistant as they yield a range of suppliers for any given product or service.

If your website is well optimised for search engines, they will provide you with a never ending stream of qualified leads. If they’re not doing so, you can do the next best thing and buy some prominence from the search engines via their ‘pay per click’ advertising.

4. Time saving

‘Tyre kickers’ happen in most businesses and can be a drain on your valuable time. A good website can help you minimise this by giving these people as many answers about your business as possible before they pick up the phone or send an email for all the wrong reasons.

5. Global service, 24/7

Quite simply, a website is able to service customers far more widely and more often than you can hope to without it. Your website can serve multiple customers from anywhere in the world (with a connection) at any time of day. This capability alone should have you knocking your web designer’s door down.

What’s the ROI?

This plenitude of benefits makes it difficult to accurately measure your website’s return on investment. But it lies somewhere in the calculation of the following factors:

  • Profit from online sales;
  • Leads generated by search engines;
  • Website visits by successful prospects;
  • Time saved versus manual customer service;
  • Establishment cost; and
  • Ongoing costs.

So compelling is the need for a business website that I often wonder if there’s a secret agenda on the part of those who deny its importance.

But rest assured, unless your business relies solely on ‘walk-in’ convenience traffic (such as a deli or perhaps petrol station), a professional website will be one of the best investments you ever make for your business.

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Craig Reardon

In addition to being a leading eBusiness blogger and educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs around Australia.

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