Believe it or not, this is a question I get asked quite a lot!
As a web designer, it always surprises me when people are keen to ‘get by’ without their own website. My advice to them is always – get one! Not for my own gain but because I truly believe that no business in this day and age should be without one…
Without further ado, here are my five reasons why you absolutely should get your own online presence.
1. The Trust Factor
There’s an old adage that people will buy from you if they know, like and trust you. The first two things on that list are largely to do with how you market yourself, but the third comes from how legitimately you present yourself. When people are looking for you online, they’re likely going to type your business name or description into Google. If the first thing that comes up is a nicely presented website (as opposed to a Facebook page or Yell listing – though those things are great to have too!), that’s going to be an instant positive first impression. It tells people how serious you are about what you do and that you’re invested in your business. The more professional you look, the better service people perceive that they’ll get. (And also it’s great for SEO!)
2. Social Networks Aren’t Forever
Often people say ‘Well, I have a Facebook page, that’s what I use as my website’. This sentence always makes me nervous for one major reason – remember My Space? Exactly. Just like anything else, social networks can (and likely will) fall out of favour. What happens if Facebook goes down or shuts down completely? I know it seems like a worst case scenario, but it could happen. How would your fans and clients find you? With your own website, you are in complete control – it’ll be online as long as you want it to be.
3. List Building
Following on from the previous point, if your favourite social network went away tomorrow, how would you get in touch with all your customers and fans? By having your own website, you can collect people’s contact information via a ‘Sign Up’ option. That way, if the worst happens, you have a way of staying connected with the people your business relies on the most!
4. You Get Your Own Domain Name (and stop anyone else getting it!)
By buying your own domain name (the www.yourbusinessname.com bit), you stake your claim to what you’ve decided to be called. Imagine if someone else bought the ‘yourbusiness.com’ name and set up a site on it. Everyone who Googled your business would find them! Nightmare! Even if you don’t intend to use it right away, I always advise people to buy the domain name corresponding to their business at the very beginning of their start up journey. They’re inexpensive and it’s great reassurance knowing it’s there for when you need it.
Plus, building on point number 1, you’ll get an email address that ends with your company name – as opposed to a Gmail or Hotmail address. Much more trustworthy don’t you think?
5. You Can Tell The Whole Story
In only appearing on social media sites or directory listings, you are limiting how much information you can give your customers. More often than not, these large sites have pre-determined boxes (with a limited number of characters you can use) to give your customers the information they need. With your own site, you can have an extensive FAQ page (saving you time answering question emails no doubt!) and about page that tells your whole story – as opposed to just a line describing your business in 100 characters or less. The more you invite people in, the more excited they’ll be about what you can do for them – and they’ll be more likely to buy!
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that having your own site is essential for your business. Even if you’re on a shoestring budget, you can get something up there that belongs to you alone.