Business Websites – Necessity or Accessory?

Today, many small and medium sized business owners are questioning whether now is the right time for them to invest in a website if they don’t have one or to promote a website they have already invested in. This post provides some food for thought.

When times are tough, business owners and leaders look closely at discretionary spending, scrutinizing each line item expense based on its potential to grow the business and demonstrate clear ROI (Return on Investment).

As a small business owner myself, that is exactly what I do. While considered “discretionary spending” by some, marketing and advertising investments are necessary to grow any business. Internet marketing and advertising investments, whose impact can easily be tracked, enable businesses to grow sales and increase marketing ROI while being able to directly correlate investments with incremental results. A business website is the central component  or hub of any Internet marketing strategy, regardless of the products and services a business sells.

The most important benefit a business website provides is visibility, including company, product and service visibility. What portion of the target market is a company and its offers visible to? If its not 100%, then there is room to grow. Imagine the opportunity cost of a company not being visible to its prospects that are actively searching on the Internet for exactly what it is that business offers.

Recent studies have shown that a majority of buyers rely on Internet search as their primary source of local business information. Businesses that rely solely on the print yellow pages, classifieds and word of mouth are missing a large part of their addressable market. If a business is a services business as opposed to product business, its primary (and in many cases only) market is local. Like the saying goes, “You have to be in it to win it.” In other words, a business has to be visible as an option before it can be considered among options.

Since more and more businesses and individuals are now using the Internet to research products and services before buying, companies must provide online prospects with ready access to company, product and service information positioned with unique selling points. Buyers expect anytime access to this information since many companies are and have been providing it.

For example, many restaurants often have websites that provide hours of operation, locations, driving or walking directions, menu content, email contact and a phone number so that those interested can email or call to make a reservation. Restaurants without business websites miss out on potential customers who are planning their dining out online.

Understanding what a company needs in a business website and how that website supports business objectives is critical. At a minimum, companies going online need a domain name relevant to their business. A company domain name becomes a pivotal part of that company’s online corporate identity. An email address with the same domain name is also very important. This provides much more credibility than using a free email account from a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail domain. Email from these domains is often blocked by filters since much unsolicited email originates from them.

All business websites should include a company background with mission and values, up to date offer information, hours of operation, contact information, and directions (if applicable). It is also important to budget for basic website promotion to ensure that the business website is visible to those searching online. Many cost effective options such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising exist to connect with relevant Internet users in search of the very goods and services your business offers.

If the business objective is to grow revenue profitably while increasing marketing ROI, then a business website is absolutely a necessity and not an accessory. The good news is that there are a number of affordable Internet marketing solutions available. The cost varies depending on how much initial and ongoing support a specific business requires. Having a business website today does not necessarily set a company apart from its competition, but does afford increased visibility and a chance to cost effectively compete for customers online that would otherwise be forfeited.

 

About

Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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