Quick Summary: A website is a critical component of your online set-up. It’s a virtual office space on the internet that allows your business to directly achieve its growth objectives through marketing, sales, and support. In most cases, you can provide information about your products/services, engage and close prospective customers, sell directly to customers, or offer support to existing clients. With the digital marketplace coming of age, websites present a prime opportunity for any business venturing online. But what exactly will a website deliver on these goals, how will it reflect on ROI? And, do you actually need a website for your business to succeed online?
Short answer: Yes! You definitely do! The long answer, maybe.
The digital marketplace has exploded over the past few years and is shaping the current business landscape. With more people having access to the internet and technology readily available to them, operating online is the new way of doing business.
As a decision-maker you are probably thinking, "Oh, I need to set up a website for my business right away!”. This may be the right direction, but it may just be pressure from the market to be online or because your competitors are doing the same.
I will outline why you need a website and give the proper direction to take, should you consider commissioning a website for your business. In contrast, I will also explore why getting a website for your business is a bad idea.
NOTE: Before we hit the ground running, I want to provide some context. If you are already familiar with the first sub-heading, you can go ahead and skip to topic number 4.
Table of Contents
- All you need to know about the digital opportunity
- Operating Online
- What you need to establish your presence online
- How a website fits into your business model
- Why a website may be a bad idea for your business
- What you need to do before getting a website developed
- Next Steps (Time for the fireworks)
1. All you need to know about the digital opportunity
The internet has brought with it easier ways for us to connect, effectively making the world a small village where everyone is at arm’s reach (a few clicks away). This makes it a medium to reach people and share with them this and that (the popularity of social media). This mostly happens through websites and apps.
For your business, it presents a new way to reach customers, it presents an opportunity to reach more customers, in a wider area, it offers a new way to serve your customers, and a new way to connect and engage with your customers. This is all enabled by leveraging Digital Marketing.
If planned and executed well, venturing into the digital marketplace can deliver these benefits to your business:
- Brand Maturity & Experience - Being able to be found easily by potential customers, and them having a strong perception of your solution as value addition and not a commodity*
- Increase revenue and reach of your solutions - Getting your solutions in front of the right people and getting more qualified leads that convert into sales.
- An ever-expanding Community of customers - Developing a community of customers that become brand advocates and ambassadors. These are people that can speak on behalf of your experience and vouch for the value you provide.
- Valuable feedback on your product/service - Engaging with your community will allow you to get feedback on their experiences. This gives you more in-depth insights into other problems that you solve for and how to improve the current experience to an unmatched level.
- Become a generational business/brand - This is achieving business supremacy that will carry through generations to come. You come to be known as a brand partner that solves solutions for its customers regardless of the field. This is growth geared towards the future.
All these reads well on paper and may actually be something you already have. But how would you operate online? Your business is already working perfectly offline, “what is this obsession with being online?” Well…
2. Operating Online
Being online means that you create a representation of your business online – that’s it! Though this depends on the type of business you are, to begin, you just need to be found by people that are looking for you or people that have pain points your products solve for. For a business that sells directly to their customers online, more details need to be added that we shall add in the future.
What you basically want to do online is allow for potential customers to reach out to you or see your products and how it solves their problem/pain. You also want to be able to access where these customers hang out online and engage with them directly or indirectly about your products.
Now that we have locked down the basics, here is what you need to establish an online presence for your business.
3. What you need to establish your presence online
This can have the most straightforward explanation: Have an internet-connected device, open a browser tab and type “I am online” and click enter. There you go! Now wasn’t that easy? Yes, my friend, you have successfully executed the most complicated of internet jargons – pardon my digression there for a moment, I couldn’t resist.
Establishing an online presence means you can be found online by the people looking for you. This can be:
- Adding a business listing on business repositories – Example of Business listing platform
- Opening a social media account for your business – Business Social Media example
- Setting up your website – Example of Business website
What you need before setting this course is your business information, i.e. who you are, what you do, what it solves, why I should buy and where you are. Either one of these items above will achieve for you the objective of being online. They, however, have different outcomes and successes. So why are we insisting on the website?
4. How a website fits into your business model
Think of a website as your physical store or office. It is where customers or clients can come to see you and get direction on their issues. This is the place where you want to conduct your business, where you know everything that is happening and the customer can feel taken care off. Let’s get even more technical.
Assume the internet is a virtual world. You buy land, and on your piece of land, you build a gorgeous house that has everything, a spacious living room, a dining room, a kitchen, a playground, several spacious bedrooms, a kitchen garden, you name it. Now keep in mind this picture of your beautiful house, we shall revisit it.
This beautiful house that you have built, this mansion on the internet is your website. Now you need are roads that lead to your house and signposts that show what and where your house is. In business terms a website serves as a destination where potential customers can get converted. This shifting dynamic has made the online marketplace more lucrative for businesses since majority of the population spend time online.
For a business to exist, it must provide a product/service that serves a need. And, to grow, it must find customers whose need its product/service satisfies and exchange value. Without this dynamic, a business becomes a very expensive hobby.
Now, since most customers are online and are actively looking for solutions there, you want to be found as the solution provider. This can go many ways, but eventually, your business needs customers to thrive and a website is a way of meeting this objective.
5. Why a website may be a bad idea for your business
Let’s take a breather from this “you need a website now” and explore a precautionary path. I don’t want to oversell a website as the solution to all your business problems since it may not be.
You may not need a website after all – I know I am contradicting myself but hear me out. If by chance you have any of the following reasons as the foundation of going online, developing the website will backfire in your face:
- “I want a website because my competitor is doing it.”
- “I was sold the idea by the developer who is a friend of the director who insists that we need a website.”
- “I have read articles that outright say if I don’t have a website, then I have no future as a business”
- “I have been told that I can have a website with zero budget and generate X amount of leads on a monthly online.”
- “It's 2020, you should have a website…”
This list gets longer. If this is where you are coming from, then please, I beg you for the love of all that’s good about your business, don’t do it! If you are being pushed by your C-suite executives or management that are citing these are reasons, I can gladly have a 15-minute chat with them to talk you off the ledge, no strings attached – I am an advocate of good business practices. Seriously, I will make the time.
Away from this doom and gloom, and now to the brass tacks. As you think of your business future and success online, the direction you want to eventually lean towards is getting a website made. If thought of and planned carefully, your website will become the differentiator in your success.
6. What you need to do before getting a website developed
For your website to make business sense and not be any other website in the online desert, you must answer some hard question. Think of this as a prequalification before commissioning a website to be built.
As mentioned above, the answer may be that you don’t need a website if it does not serve any function for your business. Without further ado, these are the questions in order:
- What is the main purpose of your website? (Of what importance is your website to your business?)
- If a website visitor could do only one thing when they visit your website, what would you want them to do?
- What is the primary action you want someone to take on your website before they leave?
- What is the secondary goal of your website? (Optional)
- Who is your ideal website visitor group?
- What is the goal of your online visitor?
- What action would they want to take on your website?
- What information are they looking for?
Once these questions are answered, then you can confidently engage a developer or a development company to talk what’s’, when, and how’s. These make the conversation with your website developer easier. Trust me, you will have a telepathic understanding, and they will tell you what features you need. Then you can discuss the type and cost of the website.
NOTE: If a web developer approaches you for this service, they must – and I mean MUST – ask you these questions before talking any features. It might be rude if they begin by asking what website you like. While being a good question, the type of website you like is a very low priority question.
If you require any assistance in answering these questions, you can request a 15-minute walk-through with our SEO no strings attached. Seriously, you have done so much already, and we would like to take this one off your hands.
7. Time for the fireworks
Congratulations are in order for making it this far; you are now on your way to realize success for your website as well as online. It took me 3 years, 7 months and 2 days to synthesize this formula and now you and I are at par knowledge-wise. Isn’t this nice? I would think so. And if you are bold enough, you can begin consulting about creating websites for businesses 😀, I mean, why not? You have everything laid bare! Anyways, now you know why you need a website for your business.