Despite living in the digital age where everybody’s first point of call is the internet, a shocking 1.98 million (34%) of small businesses in the UK currently don’t have an online presence. Losing out on a mammoth £343 billion per year. This means that out of the 50,000 small business’ in Gloucestershire, around 17,000 don’t have a website and could be losing a lot of revenue.
This latest research by Approved Index have calculated the uplift in revenue from having a website.
“Businesses who continue to ignore the importance of a website run the risk of losing millions of pounds to competitors.”
It’s tempting to cut corners with online marketing, particularly if you understand the power of social media. Only 34% of small businesses owners have a website, yet a massive 96% say they use social media in their marketing strategy.
The same is true of Gloucestershire small businesses whose websites are none existent and the owners rely solely on having a Facebook page or an online marketplace such as Etsy.
Of course, social media is a wonderful marketing tool for small businesses and Etsy is a great channel for selling your products.
However, is it enough to have a strong presence on one (or even all) of the leading social media outlets, or to use an online marketplace? Absolutely not, as this article will demonstrate. You still need a dedicated and easy to find website for your business.
Benefits of a standalone website
If you build your social media presence well, you can become visible as a business without needing massive amounts of technical ability. Creating a website – particularly a hard working one that gets results – is far trickier and involves paying for expert help.
However, this investment in a small business website is essential if you are ambitious about growing your Gloucestershire-based venture.
Put it this way; if you have a retail outlet, would you start it up down a long twisting alleyway, with lots of similar shops all around you?
Online, it’s far too easy for your business to become lost without its own dedicated website. For example, by 2017, there were already 50 million business pages on Facebook, and that figure will have rocketed since then.
Try searching 50 million Facebook pages for your own business with a slightly misspelt or too short name. You could well find a similarly titled company in California or Katmandu!
Potential customers looking for your product or service are unlikely to be coming straight to your door by searching on social media; even if you are using hashtags properly.
Don’t be reliant on 3rd parties such as Facebook, they could pull the rug from under you
With social media and online marketplaces, you’re also at the mercy of constant change and not-so-hidden agendas.
You might be selling something, but the massive technical giants are more interested in making money from you!
Sudden changes made on social media platforms and online marketplaces are rarely done to benefit your business.
For example, in mid-2018 Facebook changed the way Facebook news feeds worked, by making them more personal. Facebook users started to see more posts from family and friends, and fewer posts from businesses, brands and national media.
The impact of this meant that Facebook was no longer a free platform and you had to get your wallet out and buy advertising if you wanted to appear in your follower’s news feeds.
Impressing your target audience
A bespoke website, that stands alone and truly sums up your business, has greater integrity, authenticity and value sewn into it.
It will be a more trusted source of information than anything posted on social media. Having a dedicated website to visit can be reassuring for your customers, suppliers and staff. It shows you really do ‘mean business’ and you’re here to stay.
Gloucestershire small businesses websites can work hard!
A well-designed website, that is properly managed, should pay for itself relatively quickly.
That’s if it is sufficiently focused on meeting your business aims. Having a website that looks good is fabulous, but it’s still a long way from having a website that attracts measurable sales.
Among the things you need to look for is:
- Speed and easy navigation
How quick it is to load and how easy it is to navigate around. Customers have short attention spans! They need to be able to find the site, and the product or service of interest, in seconds.
- Talk about the benefits your customers will get
Also, is the design and content strong enough to give compelling reasons to buy from your business? This includes attractive images but more importantly, website content that pushes the benefits of your products and services.
Having grabbed the attention of potential customers with the above steps, you could still find your website fails at the final hurdle.
A well-designed website is built on providing the best possible customer experience, which is the bedrock of something referred to as ‘UX’ (User Experience).
If your potential customer is interested in buying, making an enquiry or subscribing, they should be guided through to that positive action, seamlessly. If there are any questions in their mind that aren’t answered with the design of the site (content, imagery, testimonials, etc) then you may lose them.
Small business websites can use good UX design to make it easy to submit an enquiry or place an order, without over-complicating the process.
UX, SEO… What?
No article explaining the importance of Gloucestershire small businesses websites can avoid two vital topics – SEO and analysis of your UX (User Experience). You will have heard a lot about each of these topics and could easily feel overwhelmed. Let’s break them down into their simplest forms.
- UX (User Experience)
The best performing websites also optimise User Experience. This is not simply a matter of making sure visitors can use your website with ease and keeping their interaction pleasurable. It involves providing insightful analytics to enable you to see UX gaps or obstacles. This underpins consistent lead conversion, and grows your website sales.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Search Engine Optimisation is the work done to make your website easy to find, especially on Google. If your potential customer is looking for “gardening services Stroud”, you want your business to appear on the search results high on page one! Let’s be honest, when people search online they rarely scroll past the first few suggestions.A well designed and built website will help with your SEO, including providing opportunities for you to add good copy and other material that makes you more ‘searchable’.
All that remains, is to find a design and build service to help you make a positive impact on your business!