In this day and age in South Africa, digital tech is changing how we live & work. It is alarming to know that very few small business owners have a website. Having a website or e-commerce website (online store) is easier than ever: it doesn’t cost much money, you don’t have to know how to code or design, your online store is not restricted to business hours, and it’s one of the best means of free 24/7 advertising.

Having a small business website is about providing something of value to new and old customers. Unless you’re a small business owner who is not interested in growing your brand, you need to have a website.

Are you still not sure how having a website will help you grow your business? Here are 10 reasons every business needs a website:

1. Improves your business credibility:

Now more than ever in South Africa, your customers expect to be able to find information about your company online. In fact, most consumers do research online before they make a purchase, even if it’s to buy something or find out something from their local shop. If you don’t have a website, you’re sending a message that your business has not grasped the modern era, or that you’re not interested in finding new customers—and neither of these are messages that you probably want to be sending.

Customers don’t need a lot of info or a complicated, multi-page encyclopedia about you. Just a few simple pages are usually more than enough, as long as it has basic information that’s tailored to their needs and very easy to find. And, most importantly, it should be accurate and up-to-date, since out of date info is one of people’s top irritations when it comes to using local business websites.

2. Builds Your Business.

Let us take you back, before 2004, websites were used primarily for marketing and informational purposes. A website functioned more like a brochure; you put one up to stay ahead of the competition. But there wasn’t much thought and purpose behind the content. Now let us jump forward to today, with the growth of the Internet, the influence of social media and the popularity of mobile devices, a website has become a crucial tool to build your business.

  1. Share Your Story – According to Nobel Prize-winning psychiatrist Daniel Kahneman, consumers patronize brands they can align their values with. A website is a great way to share your story; tell your audience why you started this business, your goals and what you hope to accomplish with it.
  2. Get Clients – It’s not enough to have a rock star online profile. 40% of clients prefer to deal with businesses that have websites. By contrast, only 20% will work with businesses without websites. A website gives you the platform to highlight your experience and expertise.
  3. Find Your Team – Are you looking for people to help you run your business? Set up a Career page in your website where prospective candidates can fill out an application form and attach their resume. Post your job requirement in social media and link it back to your website. You should have a good number of candidates in no time!

3. Enhance Your Businesses Online Presence:

Here’s a stat that will blow your mind:

Of the 7.4 Billion people in this world, 3.5 Billion people or 47% are online every day. In South Africa, of the 56 million people, 29 million people or 52% make use of the internet. They are searching for information, sharing on social media or shopping on e-commerce websites. This number is expected to grow as the world becomes increasingly dependent on mobile technology to search the Internet. Today there are an estimated 2.3 Billion smartphones worldwide. But in 2020, the total number of smartphones is expected to hit 6.1 Billion.

If your small business does not have a website, you will be undermining its ability to generate income. And not just any website; but a mobile responsive website, one that can be accessed by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Statistically, 75% of online traffic comes from mobile devices in South Africa. A mobile responsive website will help you capitalize on the opportunities available on the Internet through the following ways:

  1. Improve Search Rankings (SEO) – By optimizing your web pages, this makes it easier for people to find your content or website.
  2. Content Distribution – Create relevant, unique and usable content and distribute them through different channels such as social media and blog sites. People who love your content would want to know more about your business and visit your website.
  3. A Website is open 24/7 – Unlike a normal brick- and- mortar business that operates 9- to- 5, a website never closes shop. It is open 24/7, even on holidays. Giving customers access to your business anytime and from anywhere.
  4. Creating Business Flexibility – If you don’t want to miss out on opportunities, outsource customer service and have your agents manage all concerns and inquiries via chat or e-mail support at your website.

4. Build Strong Online Relationships

A business by definition is a living, breathing entity. Loyalty is achieved when customers know they are dealing with a company that understands their needs and not just a company that wants to profit.

  1. Let the Market Know “Who You Are”. Outside the Home and About Us pages, you can set up a blog page where you can share your thoughts and ideas with your audience.
  2. Address the Needs of Your Market. Invite your audience to engage you by encouraging them to post comments on your blogs. Embed survey forms and ask your audience to participate and convey their needs.
  3. Educate the Market of Your Business. Utilize the 80-20 Rule; 80% of your content should be usable or relevant to the needs of your audience while 20% should educate them about your business.
  4. Improve Customer Service. In addition to e-mail, social media, mobile and landline, install chat support as the 5th avenue for customer service. This will give your end-users more options to relay concerns and inquiries.

5. Efficient Business Promotion.

If you are still using traditional forms of marketing, you are wasting valuable resources, time and money. Traditional forms include press releases, print ads, flyers and distribution Point- of- Purchase materials. While still popular, traditional methods cost more money and cover less ground. It is also unsustainable; flyers, posters, print ads and press releases usually end up in the trash can.

Online marketing is faster, more efficient and inexpensive. There are many tools and techniques that you can use for online marketing but without a website, these strategies will fall short. Think of the website as the sun with these digital marketing tools as the planets revolving around it. These digital marketing efforts create inbound avenues to a specific destination which will be your businesses website.

Among the most popular online marketing tools that you can use to create inbound traffic to your website:

    • Social Media – Of the 3.5 Billion people online every day, 2.34 Billion or 67% are on social media.
    • Blogging – Companies that blogged 16 times a month received 4.5 times more leads than those that blogged 0-4 posts per month.
    • E-mail Marketing – E-mail marketing is 40 times more effective in acquiring customers than Facebook.
    • Use Videos – Embed a video on your Home page. A video can deliver your messaging content faster and more efficiently than text. Video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.
    • Finally, online marketing is a sustainable process. Your content will not go to waste. You can easily update it and reuse after a few months.

6. Level the playing field:

A business website levels the playing field, although the budgets and project scopes vary, there is no real difference between the website of a corporate company and that of a freelancer working from the couch in their living room. A clean and professional looking website completely levels the playing field as you can present yourself and your company any way that you like. If your company is able to help meet the needs of a customer, why do they need to know if your team is 1 person or a 1000 people?

7. Showcase Your Work.

Want a free worthwhile tip for those who want an advantage in the job market? Open a personal website and include a page that showcases your body of work. That is one valuable tip that HR Managers all over the country wish job applicants knew.

The same can be said for small business owners. A website will give you the venue to present samples of your work. It does not matter what you are offering, interior design services, content writing, professional plumbing services and other types of work that can be made visual, a portfolio page will encourage more clients to try you out.

If you want to increase the impact of your portfolio page, include client testimonies. You can put the client testimonies in the Home page which is where users land after clicking unto your link or the Services page.

8. Real-Time Tracking of Your Business

One of the most significant benefits of having a website for a small business is that you can keep track of its performance in real time through the use of analytics. Analytics will provide you valuable data on how your business has been moving within a period of time. Key indicators of business performance include the following metrics:

    • The number of visitors going to your website.
    • A number of “unique visitors” or those who visit your website only once.
    • Page views or impressions tell how many times a page has been read or visited. This will give you an idea of which type of content visitors find interesting.
    • Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website without exploring past the page they landed on.
    • Average time on site will show how long visitors view your content. The longer the average time on site, the better for your website.

9. Professional Brand

Many small business owners make the mistake of not working on their brand until they gain traction. You have to start working on your brand before launching your business. The brand gives your business its identity and makes it easier for customers and clients to understand what it is all about.

The website is the most effective and efficient way to build and professionalize your brand:

    • It places your branded value proposition front and center in the Home page.
    • Website optimization techniques can help Internet users find your brand.
    • It can be distributed seamlessly through various online channels.
    • A professionally made website shows you are serious about your business.

10 “I Do Not Need A Website, I Am On Social Media.”

Many business owners in South Africa assume that having a social media profile for their business is enough. Maybe you already have a Facebook page and some pretty good reviews on social media (or at least no one has called you the “worst restaurant ever”). That’s great.

But there are some problems with this strategy:

  • First, you’ll always be dependent on the social media platform you choose.
  • Secondly, Algorithms change, rules change, and what’s working one day might not work a few weeks from now (as many businesses who depended on Facebook have recently learned).
  • Thirdly, If you have a website, it belongs to you, and you control the content and the message. Part of the reason you started your own business is so that you don’t have to follow other people’s rules—so why would you just do what a social media platform tells you to?

Trends change, too. If your customers are on Twitter today, they might be on Snapchat or a new platform that none of us have even heard of tomorrow. As people switch from one tool to the next, your website acts as an anchor. No matter what platform customers prefer, they can always find your website in the same place, available to everyone.

Conclusion: Every business needs a website.

Need help setting up a website for your business?

If you haven’t created a website for your business, you can get set up with  WordPress. Do you want to outsource your website design? 19 Digital offers professional website design and digital marketing services to help get your business online and grow your business.

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