Small businesses without a website, even those with a booming social media presence, might as well be invisible. Aside from that fact that owners must have their businesses where people can find them when they’re ready to shop, there are six good reasons why you need one to complement your email and social media marketing.
- Access to More Actionable Data
Data drives business. Even the smallest mom-and-pop generates digital information about customers—what they buy, what they spend, and so on—their marketing and advertising, and team productivity.
Successful businesses configure their websites to collect, organize, and analyze data. And that data comes in from all directions: point of sale, social media activity (when the channels are tied into it), organic search, and other information.
Networking social media with a website provides followers and potential customers with a straight line to the business. Use data improve the in-store and online user experience, which contributes to more conversions, increased sales, and better engagement.
- Better Personalization
Successful small businesses use data to personalize the customer experience, and that is enormous. Marketing research finds that 74% of buyers prefer advertising that speaks to their wants and needs. Consumers are more attracted to experiences with brands that seem like they were made for them. You should tailor your marketing channels to your target audience, and your website is no different.
A website enables businesses to accurately assess customer behavior, from which they can interpret not only how their marketing is performing but also what piques buyers’ interests and what turns them off. Key performance indicators include:
- Average session time
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
- Pages per session
- Traffic sources
- Qualified leads
You can do first-hand market research with a website. Offer a “free-mium”—a downloadable PDF that appeals to customer interest, for instance, or a coupon for an in-store or online purchase—to gauge interest. Or ask them to complete a short (emphasis, short) survey or subscribe to your mailing list. These are all sources of data that support personalization and improve your brand’s overall customer experience.
When you understand your target audience’s interests and pain points, you can design your marketing, advertising, and sales strategies to engage them, drive sales, and increase loyalty.
Customers don’t find it helpful when they search for a business and find only its social media platform. If that has ever happened to you, how long have you fiddled with the platform trying to find what you’re looking for?
Smart business owners use their social media to give potential customers a path back to their website. Be advised, however: If the website is balky, non-responsive, or poorly designed, you might as well not bother. Buyers evaluate business’ legitimacy and professionalism by the look, feel, and functionality of their websites. You could have the best products or services in the world but if your website is a clunker, it will turn people off.
A website, the degree to which you can customize it, and the data you collect from it is yours. Your social media belongs to the platform. When you don’t have full ownership of something, you have to abide by the rules and regulations set by the person or organization who does.
Although you can create your own handles and fill in your profile information, there are design, function, and feature limits on social media. Also, you have no control over the changes made to these platforms.
With your website, you control the narrative and creative direction. You’re in charge of design and content. You can make changes to your site when you want to and take advantage of integrations that aren’t available on social media.
- Unique Integrations
Social media is evolving, but it’s yet to unlock the power of integrations like websites have.
For example, you can set up e-commerce integrations to cost-efficiently expand your small business. You can connect your social media pages so that your feeds show up on your website. Chatbots are available to provide 24/7 customer service. You could also set up an integration that allows visitors to book appointments that are then synced to your calendar.
Search engine optimization (SEO) allows you to tailor your website content to come up in relevant search results. A recent study on the frequency of local business searches revealed that 21% of consumers search for a local business daily and 35% of that number do it more than once a week.
Would you rather expand or not expand your business’ market profile?
Another question to ask yourself: Do you want your business on the first page of the search engine results? Page 2 is where people hide things they don’t want anyone to find. You can optimize your website for search engine results by:
- Using keywords specific to your location and industry
- Anticipating searcher intent
- Linking internally to other helpful pages
- Procuring backlinks to your website from other credible sites
Search engines don’t explicitly instruct businesses on how to show up high on their results pages. However, there are established trends that provide insight into how to increase your chances of showing up to your target audience. Many small businesses make the mistake of focusing solely on location-specific terms. Adding content that applies to your industry or other, more general consumer pain points adds to your credibility in the eyes of search engines and potential customers.
Social media is a great marketing and advertising tool. A website is where business happens. It’s your home base and a critical part of your customer journey. When your customers search for your business, products, or services, be sure they have a nice place to land.