In this digital age, our technology is growing at an exponential rate; faster than a regular person can keep up with! Blogging is a huge thing, and almost all companies are now going online to target their customers. Smartphones are getting more affordable, and almost everyone has one. The current axiom is that if you’re not on the web, you don’t exist.Digital social media has also changed the way a business targets their customers, with most businesses using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread the word about their products and services. Some even use Whatsapp by sending out a “text blast” to everyone in a database. Social media has a huge reach as these are apps that people are constantly accessing, and it is very easy to update; that’s what makes them such fantastic marketing tools.
So… why bother having a website, if you can use all these social media for free?
If you are running a home-based business where you can only cope with a certain number of orders and customers, then running your marketing solely through digital social media should be sufficient. But if you are planning on expanding your market, you really should consider having a properly built website to promote your business.
Even so… don’t settle for a free domain name at blogging hosts like Blogspot or WordPress.
Here are 8 reasons why you need a website with a proper domain name:
- If you have a memorable domain name, it will be easy to look up. If you choose a good domain name, it is easy for people to remember you, and look for your website in the future. It is easy to tell potential customers to visit a website at youramazingdomain.com instead of facebook.com/hopefullyourpreferredfacebookhandleisstillavailable or twitter.com/yourtwitterhandle or instagram.com/usernameforyourinstagram or blogspot.com/yourcompanynamehere; and if your customers can remember your url easily, there is a higher chance they will look your website up, and visit you more often.
- Your business looks more legitimate and professional. If you stick to digital social media only to promote your business, it looks like you are not willing to invest in marketing. Acquiring a domain name and hosting will not cost you very much as you only need to pay an annual fee. There are of course other fees to consider, such as the cost of building and maintaining your website, but that is not very much when you compare it with the amount of profits you would (hopefully) be generating with a bigger reach.
- It is proof that your business is valid, and that you are here to stay. Social media accounts are easy to create, and easy to delete. Anyone can create a “Facebook Page” and pepper it with posts and photos, and an experienced user will know how to generate a certain number of Likes to make it look like valid. There have been people conned by seemingly genuine businesses that exist only on social media, and these fake businesses can easily close down their accounts without a trace. While websites can also be easy to set up and to take down, if you would like to prove that your business is valid, you can keep your business information viewable by the public. You can of course opt for the information to be blocked from the public, but keeping your information public shows that you have nothing to hide, and that you are sincere in running a legitimate business. Public information of website ownership can be easily looked up using whois.
- You can put up important information that needs to be easily accessed. For example, your contact information. With a website, you can control the information that you would like your customers to view easily. This includes your contact information such as your phone number, email, or company address. You can even have an online form which your customers can fill up and send you an enquiry for you to follow up.
- Additional product / services / promotional information can be easily viewed. With your own website, you can place all the information, additional terms & conditions, and fine print that your customers may want to read carefully before making any purchase. It also saves you a lot of time, as your customer representatives would not have to spend a lot of time answering the same questions that different customers may ask; instead many customers may have looked up the information on your website, or your representatives can even direct them to the website. These kinds of information can usually get lost if uploaded to social media, as social media uses a timeline which is time-sensitive; so information you uploaded two weeks ago could be buried under all the other posts that have been uploaded since then. There are only so many pins you can put in your social media.
- Your website will show up on search engines. Nowadays, many people resort to Google or similar search engines when they are looking for information, products or services. By having your own company website with easily accessible information, your website will appear on search engines, and thus driving more traffic towards your business.
- A great shopping experience for your customers, and easier order handling for your business. If you are selling products, you can put as many products as you like on your website, for your customers to shop. Facebook does offer a shop page, but having your own website with your own shopping carts provides a more professional feel, and you have complete control over the shopping experience – from the product display pages to the product options to the payment gateway system. If you invest in a proper payment gateway system, you are also showing your customers that you take their shopping experience and their financial information security very seriously; instead of relying on just social media for the shopping. Having your own automated shopping cart will also enable your staff to handle orders that are taken online as they are compiled into automatic lists that need to be followed, rather than you taking manual orders via the phone or messages.
- You can create many customised sign-up forms to collect your customers’ information. You can have your own sign up forms for the newsletters, or if you are organising an event where you would like people to sign up on the website, you can easily create many forms on your website without additional cost. These forms can be automatically compiled into a list that you can view and download later at your convenience.
Nowadays, there are many options for you to build your website. You can purchase packages from websites that offer everything you need to build a website from scratch, and also to maintain it yourself. These packages are usually quite user-friendly, so even if you have no technical knowledge, it would not be difficult for you to build and maintain your own website. These packages are usually based on subscription, so you would have to pay a monthly or a yearly fee to keep your website active.
Alternatively, you can hire a website developer to build the website for you. You can give the exact specifications you need for your website, which gives you even more control and freedom over how your website should look, as you do not need to conform to a template. Your website can have a very unique look, and even special functions for a specific task that you need on your website which cannot be obtained from a readymade template. You can either opt to maintain the website yourself, or pay the developer a monthly fee to maintain the website for you.
Websites are part of your marketing tool, and marketing should not be something to be skimped upon as it is part of your advertising and promotion. How your customers perceive you is important as your image is what determines whether or not they trust you, and whether they will buy your products and/or services.