Even if you’re not interested in selling your products online, when you’re a small business owner you simply can’t afford to skip the process of launching a website. As more customers turn to the internet to search for products and services, having a strong online presence is the only way to stay relevant and competitive.
More than ever, customers expect the internet to show them places in their area where they can get what they need. According to Google, customers are increasingly turning to mobile search to find local products and services. Between 2015 and 2017, “near me” searches increased by a whopping 500%!
While there are multiple reasons for avoiding creating a website, the internet and social media are here to stay. Ignoring them means you’re missing out on some serious business. Here are the most important reasons why your brick and mortar business needs a website sooner rather than later.
Attract new local foot traffic to your store
If your brick-and-mortar store relies on local residents and window-shoppers to stay in business, you may think that having a website isn’t necessary. After all, you don’t need to attract people across the country or around the globe. However, even longtime neighborhood residents may not be aware that your business exists. Today, most people start by searching the internet to find local stores. If you’re one of the many stores who haven’t claimed your Google listings, don’t miss out. In 2017, 56% of local businesses still hadn’t claimed their Google business listing. Once you’ve done that you’ll be generating more business — according to Google, business listings that include a website link get 25-35% more clicks.
Legitimize your business
Before the internet, store owners “hung out their shingle” to let the world know they were open for business. Today, launching a website is the equivalent of this tradition. It ensures your store is not only visible to the world but also trustworthy and credible. In fact, according to one study 84% of customers rate businesses as more credible when they have a website instead of only a social media page. That doesn’t mean social media isn’t helpful—you can link your social media pages to your website and help your customers get to know your store better.
Control your reputation
Information about your business is already on the internet whether you’ve actively created an online presence or not. Your store features in directory listings, in reviews, and on social media. Why not take charge of your online reputation and control the messaging? While social media is a good place to have conversations with your customers, a website is the perfect place to highlight customer testimonials. And if there are any questions or concerns about products or services, a dedicated website page is the perfect place to address them.
Increase customer satisfaction
When customers have questions and feedback, a phone number isn’t enough anymore. Now customers want options. A website offers an easy, online method to communicate with your customers and help them find answers. Use your website to list store hours, directions and maps, FAQs, product/service information, and contact details. By preempting any questions and concerns 24/7 — and responding to any messages promptly — you go a long way to assuring your customers of your company’s mindfulness. And this helps you build and maintain a loyal customer base.
Expand your marketing
If you’re trying to expand your reach and get the word out about your business, having a website is integral to every strategy. It helps with offline tactics, like appearing at the bottom of your business cards, flyers, and advertisements. And it also exponentially boosts your ability to effectively market your business online — as a part of pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social media promotions, email campaigns, and more.
Build customer relationships
One of the best ways to maintain strong relationships with your customers is to give them a place to converse with you. Not only does a website offer the ideal location for customers to provide you with helpful feedback, it also gives you a place to share your unique expertise. And don’t forget to link your social media pages to a blog on your website. It gives you the perfect opportunity to get the word out about your business, encourages your customers get to know you better, and ultimately builds brand loyalty.