Back in the earlier days of the internet, websites were more of a novelty. Business owners had different reasons for creating their own website — some did it as a means to illustrate their awareness of upcoming trends, others to provide customers with an information bank, and some because they saw the potential for marketing. But in those days, businesses without a website often didn't suffer for their lack of one.
However, today is very different. An internet presence is no longer an innovative bonus, but an essential part of building a brand that can flourish in the public mind. A business without a website is no longer the norm, but has placed itself at a serious disadvantage.
And while many business owners have come around to the idea that a website is crucial for success, others still don't take the need for a website seriously. Their reasons vary — they don't see the need for a website because they don't understand it, think it building a website will cost them too much time and money, or they feel attached to older standards. Owners of established businesses point to existing success and claim their business is doing just fine without a website, so why do they need one?
Here are five reasons a website is essential for business owners in today's world, no matter their reservations on the matter.
Entrepreneurs throughout history have imagined having a storefront on every main street in every town. Today, the internet has brought the world together in ways previous generations never imagined, and even global communications can feel like they're taking place in a much smaller venue. It's fair to say that the internet itself is the Main Street of the modern world, and it sees far more traffic than any particular street in any city.
A website serves as your business's storefront on this virtual hub. Just as having a brick-and-mortar location on a busy street in a large city exposes your business to thousands of passersby, a website gives you the potential for exposure to millions of people every day.
Even though some businesses haven't accepted the need for a website, customers don't have the same doubts. Over half the population of the world uses the internet today, which is more than 3 billion people, and a significant number of them go online every single day. For millions of people, the internet is their first stop when they want to learn about something, whether it's a person, place, or product — or a business.
For these near-constant internet users, it's beyond weird when a business doesn't have a website: it's laughable or even suspicious. Even a casual internet user might decide to check a company's website for a piece of information and feel surprised and confused when there's no website to visit. Lacking a website will raise doubt in people's minds, and that's never good.
We just went over the function of a website as a virtual storefront and its part in meeting the expectations of current and potential customers. These are part of your website's role as your business's most effective marketing tool. It gives you a valuable chance to make a good first impression on consumers who otherwise may never have encountered your business, serves as a hub for your other marketing efforts, and helps establish you as an authority in your field.
Your website is also key to your business being discovered by customers in the first place, often through a search engine. Even if you have profiles on social media like Facebook or Twitter, it's your website that will draw interest in search results. Often, social media profiles only come up when the business's actual name is searched, which is useless for connecting you with new customers who don't yet know about your business.
The internet is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Even if your business is currently closed for a holiday or it's after 6 PM and no one is in the office to pick up the phone, your website is always there for your customers to browse.
By providing contact forms and emails, FAQs, a knowledgebase, downloadable manuals, and more, you can help your customers regardless of whether your physical location is open at the moment. Your website can give them a means to contact you or help themselves by perusing the information you provide. And of course, if you sell products through your website, you've expanded your customer base far beyond driving distance to your brick-and-mortar location.
Among business owners reluctant to build a website, two commonly-cited reasons include not being "tech-savvy" and not having the time or money to devote to website creation. But today, building a website is simpler than ever, and much less expensive, too.
Website builders are the easiest and fastest way to build a website complete with company information, an online store, full-featured payment processing, and everything else you need to do business online. When it's this easy, there's really no excuse not to embrace the internet as something that can help your business prosper.