With social media’s takeover, it seems like websites can be an afterthought for small businesses these days. If most people spend hours on social media daily, you can connect with your customers, market your products and services to them, and sell directly on many of these platforms. However, a website for your small business is still essential and a worthwhile investment.
Data is invaluable for any size business. From learning about your customers to understanding the effectiveness of your marketing channels to learning about your team’s productivity, data is critical for making insightful business decisions.
Your website is a goldmine for data, especially about your customers. You have access to more actionable data with website analytics tools. You can gather data on your customers’ behaviors online and analyze that information to improve the user experience on your site. This can contribute to more conversions, increased sales, and better engagement.
Consumers are more attracted to experiences with brands that seem like they were made for them. In other words, they appreciate personalization. You should tailor your marketing channels to your target audience, and your website is no different.
Aside from offering another personalized experience with your brand, your website has its own set of user data. Some of the key performance indicators you can track with a website include:
- Average session time;
- Bounce rate;
- Conversion rate;
- Pages per session;
- Traffic sources;
- Qualified leads.
You may even incorporate a form that website users can fill out, telling you more about them and their viability as potential consumers. You may even embed surveys to gain customer feedback. You can use that data to fuel your personalization efforts, improving your brand’s overall customer experience. When you understand your target audience’s interests and pain points, you can design your website around those things to draw them in and increase loyalty and conversions.
If you ever searched for a business online and couldn’t find anything but social media profiles, you may have formed a certain impression. You aren’t alone if you thought it made the business less legitimate. Even a poorly designed website can deter consumers.
When a business doesn’t have a website — or has a non-responsive, overcrowded website — it raises red flags for potential customers. A level of legitimacy and professionalism is attached to companies that take pride in their websites. You could have the best products or services in the world but if your audience can’t learn more about them on your website, it’s almost like they don’t exist.
Of course, your social media profile is yours to some degree, but you don’t own it. 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 have control over the narrative and creative direction. You’re in charge of design and content. You can make changes to your site when you want to. You can also take advantage of unique website integrations that aren’t available on social media.
Social media is evolving, but it’s yet to unlock the power of integrations like websites have. You can take full advantage of unique website integrations that tie all of your marketing efforts together when you have your own site.
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 local businesses online every day. Further, 35% continue to make these types of searches multiple times throughout each week.
If people are searching for businesses online this often, you want your business to pop up in their search when they’re on the hunt for your products and services. You can optimize your website with SEO efforts to raise the probability that this happens. Some examples of SEO best practices for SMBs include:
- Using keywords specific to your location and industry, globally;
- 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 can give you 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.
Your small business still needs a website, even if your social media is booming and your email list is on fire. Even if you’ve grown a presence on other digital platforms, you need a home base for your business online. It’s 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.
Adrian Johansen lives and thrives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes about business and marketing topics, especially when they intersect with sustainability and diversity issues.