As we hurtle through yet another year, there’s still a great divide between two kinds of small business owners: Those who have business websites, and those who don’t.
Fortunately, small businesses are realizing the importance of a business website. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of small business owners in Clutch’s 2018 Small Business Survey have a business website, and 81% of those say their sites are mobile-friendly.
On the other side of the divide are the more than one-third (36%) of small business owners who still don’t have a website. How is this still possible?
If your small business doesn’t have a website, here are some of the many ways you’re missing out.
Your email marketing is less effective than it could be.
About half of people who get a marketing email from a business will visit that business’s website as a result. If you don’t have a website, they could go to your social media page—but can they actually make a purchase there? In most cases, no.
You’ll get less traction in search results.
If consumers search for your business online and you don’t have a website, your company name and address may show up (if you have a presence on local search directories, that is). But where do customers go to learn more about your business? Without a website to click on, they’ll be taking their chances if they decide to visit you.
You look less than legitimate.
Some 27% of small businesses that do not have a website say it isn’t relevant to their industry—but it’s hard to think of any industry where a website isn’t relevant. Personally, I am very leery of doing business with any company that doesn’t have a website. Whether you sell to consumers or other businesses, customers these days like to get as much information as they can about businesses before making a decision to patronize them. Without a website, your business is shrouded in mystery. . . and not in a good way. You look either hopelessly out of date, or like you’ve got something to hide.
You’re at the mercy of social networks.
More than 1 in 5 small businesses Clutch surveyed (21%) don’t feel they need a website because they have such a strong presence on social media. But social networks change their algorithms and policies all the time. What if a new change makes your business’s social media accounts less visible in users’ feeds?
Earlier this year, Facebook changed its algorithm yet again, prioritizing friends and family posts over businesses’s posts in users’ feeds. Worse yet, what if the social network you’re reliant on loses its luster? (Think MySpace.) If you build your marketing presence on a website that you control, rather than on someone else’s turf, your investment of time, energy and money is much more secure.
Beyond all these factors, one reason to create a business website is that there’s no longer an excuse not to.
So what’s holding the 36% of small businesses that don’t have websites back?
More than one quarter (26%) of small businesses without a website cite cost as the key obstacle. But among small businesses that have websites, more than a quarter (28%) spent less than $500 on their websites.
Among small businesses without a website, more than half (58%) plan to build one this year. It’s more affordable and easier than ever before to do so. All you have to do is visit one of the many one-stop services that offer web hosting, web design and/or DIY website templates you can use to create your own website.
As a bonus, many of these services make it easier to market your website by helping you with search engine optimization, local search directories and more once your website is up and running.
Your website doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you own, say, a local dry cleaner, a couple of pages with your basic information (hours, address, phone number), perhaps a Contact Us page, and links to your business elsewhere online (social media, reviews, etc.) is probably all you need.
Even if you ultimately plan to expand your website and include more functionality, getting a basic website online ASAP is a good first step that will raise your business’s profile online.
Need help planning your business website and using it effectively as a marketing tool? Talk to a SCORE mentor who will share their expertise for free.