Entrepreneurs invest in a variety of things to assist their businesses.
They might get expensive, eye-catching furniture for the customer-facing areas, pay to lease a spacious building or hire supporting team members, including accountants and lawyers.
Those investments can all pay off, but business owners should not overlook the importance of a website. Here are six reasons why.
Sites Can Feature Reviews That Spur Purchases or New Business
Many people want to know what they can expect when giving their patronage to a new company. They often determine that by reading business reviews — frequently those found online.
A 2018 study from PowerReviews showed that 97% of consumers let reviews inform their purchase decisions. Additionally, the results indicated more than one-third of respondents would not purchase in a physical store without reading reviews first.
Reviews are most commonly associated with things shoppers buy, but consumers who review merchandise often discuss other aspects, such as the friendliness of a representative or the promptness of service received. If buyers have opportunities to post reviews to a company's website, the associated information could encourage new customers to give the businesses a try.
People Don't Trust Brands Without an Online Presence
Responsiveness, transparency and reliability can affect the amount of trust someone places in a brand. But, research also says if a company does not have a website, consumers are less likely to trust it. A SurveyMonkey poll concluded that 64% of millennials and 42% of individuals 35 and older trust a brand only a little or not at all if it does not have a site.
Plus, poor customer service or unpleasant experiences with products were two of the primary things that caused individuals to lose trust in a company, SurveyMonkey determined. Thus, an online platform does not guarantee continual trust. Still, it's a business investment that paves the way for a mutually beneficial relationship as long as companies have other central aspects in order.
A Well-Designed Website Can Make a Business Look More Professional
Numerous studies confirm that the way a website looks shapes a visitor's impressions. Some research indicated that the look and feel of a site was the main driver of people's initial takeaways regarding it, and another conclusion was that a website's appearance could affect visitor satisfaction.
A company site is the first thing many people see, so brands should create sites reflecting the perceptions they want others to have. Whether an entrepreneur operates from a brand-new office space in the heart of a bustling downtown area or from home, this platform can show their business to the world.
Business owners should spend time both thinking about what business image they want to publicize and which features or site-related content are most likely to encourage visitors to linger and learn.
For example, a platform for a childcare service might show which certifications and qualifications the care team has or which characteristics make it stand out from other options in the area. For an e-commerce site, being transparent about shipping times, returns and methods of contacting customer service are all aspects that can convince a person a company is professional and worth supporting.
Online Searches Can Inspire Store Visits
If a business owner has a physical store, they may think it's not necessary to invest much in the website. However, an online presence can promote in-store sales. For example, one commonly used website marketing tactic is to advertise limited-time sales that shoppers can take advantage of in a physical store. It's also smart, then, for an online platform to list all of a company's locations and mention how a person can reach a store from wherever they are.
A primary reason why a site is such an essential business investment is that online content can encourage individuals to make in-store purchases later. Google published research saying that 76% of people who use their smartphones to search for things nearby visit businesses in the area within a day. Additionally, more than a quarter, or 28%, of those instances result in purchases.
Even if a person comes into a store based on something they see online but doesn't buy anything the first time, business owners still have ample opportunities to connect with individuals, answer their questions and help them feel confident about returning.
A Website Can Position a Company Executive as a Thought Leader
One thing that some business leaders overlook regarding the importance of a website is that it can give executives a thought leadership platform. A business blog is an excellent place to cover topics like market trends, new technologies or other factors likely to impact the business or its industry in the coming years.
Plus, thought leaders can drive sales, primarily because they use their expertise to market the company in ways that stimulate the decision-making process and compel consumers to purchase. For example, a leader who shows extensive knowledge of a subject is likely well-equipped to solve related problems that customers might have.
A 2019 Edelman study revealed that thought leadership is particularly important in the business-to-business (B2B) sector. According to the results, 58% of decision-makers spend time each week reading content from thought leaders. And, 21% of those polled do it for a substantial amount of time — at least four hours. Other findings from Edelman's research included that 55% of respondents use thought leadership as a way to vet organizations before working with them.
Beyond publishing blog posts, a company can include relevant content in a "Research" or "Learn" section of the site. Listing awards won by executives, speaking engagements or conferences attended can also help the audience view the person as a thought leader worth knowing.
Websites Allow Adding Recommendation Features
Business owners rely on numerous website marketing strategies to raise the likelihood that individuals will purchase more or at least increase their overall time spent on a site. They may offer discounts for new customers who spend at least $75 or provide lots of information-rich content that takes a while to read and is appealing to potential or current customers.
A 2017 Salesforce study also strongly suggested that online product recommendations can lead to more orders and revenue. The data indicated that although shoppers who clicked recommendations comprised only 7% of site visits, they placed 24% of orders and were associated with 26% of revenue.
The research also showed that 37% of people who clicked recommended products during their first visits returned to the site for future visits. However, an online platform can still act as a business investment in this way, even when site owners don't sell things. For example, many websites with blogs suggest other posts for visitors to read, thereby increasing the amount of time spent on the site.
A Business Investment Worth Making
Sometimes it's challenging for business people to assess whether their investments will pay off. However, the content here illustrates the importance of a website and why it could contribute to a brand's success in both expected and unexpected ways.