As is the case for many questions the first answer to this question would be, it depends. It really depends on what your business does, how you acquire customers, how you communicate with customers and so on.
We listed the main functions of a well designed and developed website. Read through these and decide for yourself if your company needs a website to help with these functions of your business.
The main functions of a business website:
They are not necessarily prioritized in the order given.
- To establish and promote brand awareness
- To market to and acquire new customers
- To educate potential and existing customers about your services or products
- To automate the warmup for potential clients to purchasing customers
- To be your store front on the internet (picture of brick and mortar store front and door to internet users)
- To be your automated cashier for sales on the internet (picture of human cashier and computer recording digital transactions)
- To track your inventory levels and sales statistics
- To provide your company information globally 24hrs a day 7 days a week to your prospects and clients
- To help your business run more efficiently with lower costs
Why some organizations do not have a business website?
According to a survey by Clutch.CO who polled 97 small businesses. There are four main reasons that a small business may not have a business website. The most common reason given is because social media is being used in place of a website. Although this can be effective for some of the functions that a business website should perform. This strategy has some very real risks and limitations that could be disastrous for the company.
Primary Reason Small Businesses Do Not Have a Website
Percent of respondents without a website; N=97 small businesses owners / managers
Source: Clutch 2017 Small Business Web Design Survey
We think that it is important to address each of these sited reasons.
Social Media Profile Instead of a Business Website
Businesses risk adverse effects of social media platform changes.
Although social media can be effectively used to promote a brand or products and it can be effective in marketing to new clients. The use of a social media platform solely by itself puts an organization at the mercy of the platform. If the platform changes their user features, or the way that members can see content the business could find these changes drastically reduce the effectiveness of marketing and the organizations ability to service clients. This is not a theoretical if scenario, it has commonly happened in the past and will likely continue as the social media platforms are focused directly on improving their performance and profits and only concerned with businesses using the platform if it aligns with the platform goals.
“Once again, Mark Zuckerberg shook up the world last week when he announced Facebook will change its algorithm…These influencers and their audiences will garner even more attention with their organic content, while similar, non-paid content from businesses and brands will suffer.” (Beasley, 2018) Forbes.com
A website should be the base of your online presence and be under your control. Social media should be integrated as a marketing tool to drive traffic to your website and reach new customers. You will invest a lot of time and resources into creating content, and when you do, where it is online should be owned by you and under your control.
Lacking the technical skill to build a business website
Should you build your own business website?
This is an interesting reason that a business does not have a website. If you were a house painter would you not have a paint sprayer because you didn’t know how to build it? If you run a retail store would you not have a cash register because you don’t know how to build it? If the quality and function of a website is directly related to the level of success of your business, and you do not have the skills to create one yourself, you should buy one just like any other tool that is critical to the business. Just like a lawyer, accountant, Mechanic, etc. a website developer is a professional that you should employ if needed. We realize that small business owners may have to wear many hats in the beginning, but that does not mean you should try to wear all the hats. Play to your strengths and hire professionals when needed in critical functions of your business.
A business website is not relevant to my industry
Is a business website relevant to my industry?
It is possible that a having a website is not relevant to your industry. If this is true, we would suggest that you do not waste time with a website as it will be an unneeded expense of time and resources. That said the cases when this is true are very rare in business, be sure that you have evaluated the main functions listed above and determined that none of these apply to your business. Chances are that the main functions above do apply to your business and you are simply substituting some other process or tool to accommodate.
Lack of human or financial resources
Although these are similar to each other we should address them separately.
I don’t have anyone who can take care of a business website.
The level of complexity of your site will determine the level of human resources and technical skill required to maintain it and could vary greatly. If the site is properly planned and developed it should at a minimum increase business income enough to pay for the service or personnel resources to maintain it. In most cases it should be adding a significant increase to profits and operational efficiencies. There are good companies that can provide the level of service you will need to maintain a business website. Hiring the right technically skilled professionals will solve this issue and add value to your company. The cost of hiring professionals could be as low as $49.00 per month.
I don’t have the financial resources to build a business website
The cost of a professional site can also vary greatly depending on complexity and functionality. Professionally built sites can be built for as little as $1,000.00 and have a fair level of functionality. There are also do it yourself platforms that can be used these are very economical but require a large amount of investment in time acquiring knowledge in several technical areas. Although there is some upfront investment required it is minimal and if planned and developed correctly it will start returning the investment within a short period of time. Like all other systems or tools of a business it needs to be properly matched to the specific business. Good analysis, strategy, and implementation are paramount to a successful business website.
Do I need a business website?
It is estimated that in 2018 1.8 billion consumers purchased goods online, relating to 2.8 trillion dollars. This is projected to grow to 4.8 trillion dollars by 2021. Obviously not all of these sales would be relevant to your business, but if you do not have a business website you have zero chance at any these sales. Research has also shown that approximately 81% of all offline buyers review products and companies online before buying. Your lack of a presence online could drastically reduce the conversion of these offline buyers as well.
Hopefully we have helped you to formulate an answer to your question. If you require more specific information in regards to your business we would encourage you to contact us with your specific questions.
Do I need to hire someone to manage my business website?
This question as before should really be answered with, it depends. Depending on the functionality that the website plays in your business will determine the level effort needed to maintain it. As an example, if your business website is simply a static one-page site, presenting your company information and integrated email contact form, the level of effort is much lower than if it is a dynamic multipage site that handles online sales of products. Beyond that there are also two areas of management for a business website that should be considered. The first is the management and maintaining of content on the site. This would be activities like making sure the contact and company information is current, adding new notifications for services or products, or possibly creating new blog posts etc. These types of activities could be handled by a webmaster. The other area is managing the website security, performance, structure, and integrity. These activities might include, code updates to the site or platform, firewall settings, SEO optimization, and site backups. There is not always a clear line between these two areas and there often needs to be close coordination between them.