The importance of small business websites

Small business websites - their importance cannot be ignored

This is article-12 in the series “web design Cornwall” and outlines the need for small businesses to have a professional web presence. According to the recent Digital Dinosaurs Report (2012), a staggering 60% of small businesses in the UK still have no online presence. The importance of the Internet for businesses of all sizes and sectors is increasing day-by-day, but many smaller businesses are failing to adjust their marketing strategy accordingly. Therefore, the importance of small business websites cannot be ignored.

But why is this significant and does it even matter?

Many small business owners mistakenly view their business as an offline entity and continue to pursue traditional means to promote their company and win new customers. Regarding any business whatever the size, product or service as purely offline is a risky strategy when your customers are increasingly spending more and more time surfing the Web.

Harnessing the power of the Internet as a business tool is important. Many small businesses often measure success by their ability to build offline relationships, but the web can play a huge part in that. Therefore, it does not matter how established your businesses is offline, it is crucial to get the basics of online marketing in place and that starts with a professionally designed website.

It is unlikely that small businesses will have big budgets, staff or free personnel hours to invest in a complex online strategy, but there are some simple steps they can take to start reaping the rewards of an online presence.

Be accessible

Your customers are online 24/7, and as such they expect to be able to interact with businesses and organisations whenever and wherever they are online. So, the key to making the most of the Internet is to make your business as accessible as possible, letting people interact with you in a way that suits them. This does not mean having to have a presence on every single online channel, but rather being clever about selecting the ones that are most important to your audience.

At the most fundamental level, this means a professional looking website with easy to find, relevant information about your business. At a more advanced level, it could be a fully-blown booking engine that lets customers schedule their own appointment or booking with you, essentially giving your businesses a 24/7 receptionist.

Think local

Making the most of online tools doesn’t necessarily mean trying to go global, in fact it can be quite the opposite.  Loyal, engaged customers will come back time and again. So, by focusing on your online touch points you can build relationships with customers and potential customers by turning that online connection into offline custom. Local listings sites, online networking groups and building partnerships with other local business can also help to increase your local online presence.

Focus on the channels that really matter

As a small business, it is likely that you have either the time or resources to do everything, and investing in a fruitless business channel can end up being a costly mistake. Think hard about where your customers are spending their time online and focus your efforts accordingly. One of the first things to consider is through which online channels to make your business visible. Your website is your flagship, but you need to get your brand to where your potential customers are. This could mean a branded social media page such as Facebook or engaging customers via Twitter and Google+.

Turn customers into fans

Weary of the constant bombardment of marketing messages – and with a whole internet of opinions, rants as well as praise at our fingertips – customers can now just turn to Facebook, Twitter or Google+ for advice.

The mass adoption of online social networks has changed the way we make purchasing decisions. Social media has changed the way people make recommendations and share their experiences. In this way, your most loyal customers can do your online marketing for you by following you or giving you positive recommendations that all their friends will get to see.

Businesses of all sizes, no matter how small, can capitalise on this and the great thing about social recommendations is that they are super-targeted, personal and free.

Big impact small budget

So in summary, when it comes to the Internet marketing big impact does not have to mean big budget. Don’t underestimate the importance of small business websites. The key is to be relevant, consistent and accessible online. If you consistently keep these three things in mind you will be well on the way to succeeding in using the Web to create a professional, effective window display for your business.

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