Website = Revenue
Yes, this is a crude, oversimplified equation. Anyone who guarantees that getting a website will automatically increase your revenue is lying to you. There are just too many variables involved. Location, customer service, advertising, reputation, and competition are just a handful of the many factors that affect your business’s success.
But the idea that getting a website will help your business grow isn’t arbitrary. It’s based on all the ways that having a website can impact your ability to generate revenue by bolstering your ability to:
- establish your credibility
- increase your online visibility
- giving you control over your message and brand
- guide the user journey
- curate social proofing
- provide superior customer service
- and more
Let's explore some of the ways a website can help your business (and revenue) grow.
A website puts you in the game
For better or worse, more and more of our daily lives are lived online with each passing day. It’s where we work, entertain ourselves, shop, learn, and do just about everything else.
It’s not only where we find what we’re looking for, it’s how we find it in the first place. Google is the new phone book, encyclopedia, mall, and more. It’s where we get answers to almost everything.
And it just so happens that half of Google searches are for local businesses. Regardless of what business you’re in, if you don’t have a website, you’re not showing up in any Google search results.
Your website is your primary means of educating people about the products & services you provide.
This is because having a website allows you to control how you share and frame information. It also saves you and your customers time by incorporating third-party applications that facilitate tedious tasks like scheduling appointments, managing payments, or handling information requests via online forms.
This means you and your staff can focus your time performing more important tasks.
Are you controlling your brand, or is someone else?
Branding is very important. Simply put, branding is how people feel about your company. It’s not your advertising, logo, name, or anything else you can directly control. These all contribute to your brand, but at the end of the day, your brand is your reputation - the gut feeling people get when they think of you.
Developing a brand takes a long time, and it isn’t cheap or easy. But don’t let that discourage you, because the benefits of having a strong brand are worth what it takes to get it.
But this article isn’t about branding, so that’s as far down the rabbit hole as I go for now. The reason I bring up branding here is to point out that the way you present your business online is critical to your brand (and your business).
No brand lives in a vacuum. The only way to differentiate your business from your competitors is by doing just that - showing how you’re different. Your website is your single best opportunity to do just that by controlling your message and, more importantly, how you make your first impression with potential customers.
Most people will first go to your website to determine if they will do business with you or go to one of your competitors.
Brand recognition is one of the biggest benefits of branding, but it can hurt you if you aren't careful. One of the best ways to protect your brand is by having a website where people can find legitimate information about who you are and what you do. Otherwise, you won't have much say over your own brand, which isn't good.
Without a strong online presence, there won’t be any alternative to whatever anyone says about you. Actually, without one, no one will even know who you are. You tell me which is worse.
Social Media is not Enough
Some may say, “Yeah, but I have a Facebook business account. Isn’t that enough?”
Facebook business accounts are the go-to alternative for those who don’t want to spend the time and money getting an actual website. This is because they're the quickest and cheapest way to get an online presence. But their shortcomings could end up hurting instead of helping you.
For starters, they don’t look professional. They’re the online version of “phoning it in,” and everyone knows it. Few things chip away at your confidence in a business than clicking on what you think is a link to its website and finding yourself on a generic Facebook page.
People will think that if a business doesn’t take itself seriously enough to get its own website, how seriously do they take other aspects of their business? A website makes you look professional. Facebook doesn’t.
An even bigger reason to not use Facebook as your online presence is that you don’t own your Facebook page. That may not concern you but it should, because Facebook can use the information you put on their platform however they want, which is a major security breach for you and your customers.
You also have little to no control over the design of your Facebook page, and since a website’s design is critical to its ability to bring in business, this leaves you completely at the mercy of Facebook's one-size-fits-all template.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use Facebook. Social media is great for advertising. But once potential customers hear about you, they'll need more information about your business before becoming customers. If you don’t have a website that provides that and shows them how you’re different from everyone else, why should they choose you?
A professionally designed website not only shows people what makes you special, but it gives your business the strongest online presence possible.
With it, you’ll be easier to find, run your business more efficiently, and be able to guide potential customers into taking the actions you want them to.
Guide them on their User Journey
The user journey is the path users take in order to accomplish what they came to your site to do. Whether it’s making a purchase, finding information, or something else, the user journey deals with how people navigate to that thing. There are two kinds of user journeys: unguided and guided.
An unguided user journey is the result of little or no planning while designing a website, and this creates a frustrating user experience. We’ve all been on websites with overcrowded menus, no search bar when one is clearly needed, cluttered layouts, no calls to action, and destinations that take way too many clicks to reach. These are classic hallmarks of an unguided user journey, and they make it difficult for users to use your site. And remember, the harder it is to use your site, the easier it is to leave it and go to a competitor’s.
On the other hand, a guided user journey makes your site much easier to use by having clear navigation, a streamlined website structure, distinct calls to action, etc. People spend less time getting frustrated and more time focusing on the actions they want to take. This is better for them and better for you.
Designing a guided user journey requires research, analysis, testing, and iteration as you design your website. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it because it’s one of the main components that separates a website that’s effective from one that isn’t. You’ll not only make your site much easier to use, but people will take you more seriously because you’re taking them more seriously.
Having a guided user journey helps both you and your customers, but you need a website to have one.
Social proofing is the practice of sharing reviews, awards, case studies, etc. with potential customers. It may be the most effective way of building trust with users because it plays off the human behavior of copying others when you don’t which choice to make.
Purchasing something for the first time is always a scary proposition. In order to reduce that fear, we gather as much information as we can get to help us make an informed decision. This is why 91% of consumers say they read at least one review before making a purchase.
Social proofing is why we buy the product with 200 positive reviews over the one with 50, even if they’re identical. It’s why the company we’re thinking about buying from suddenly looks a lot more credible once we see that they did work for a big-name company (even if a competitor is better).
If you don’t have a website to showcase your own social proofing how you want, you’re at the mercy of Google and Facebook reviews. But, with a website, you can include any type of social proofing you want and gain even more control over your message and brand.
24/7 Customer Service
You can’t work around the clock. That’s ridiculous. But, having a website means that your business is available to people even when you’re not. Providing information and a way for people to contact you at all times can make a huge difference when trying to gain new customers and retain existing ones.
If you’re in a service-based industry, having a website can increase your usefulness to your customers by providing features like scheduling, online access to information and services, account management, etc. The more useful your website is to your customers, the more value you provide them.
As markets become more saturated, customer service becomes more important. People want information, support, and access to services on their schedule, not yours. You should be doing everything you can to fulfill every one of your customers’ needs at all times. If you don’t have a website to help you do this, your competitors that do will be waiting with open arms.
What an Image is Worth
You can show images of your products on any platform you want, but only your own website allows you to control how people experience them.
Images and videos are powerful tools, but their relevance, quality, size, aspect ratio, location on the page, and more all impact their effectiveness in driving sales. To maximize their impact, you need as much control over them as possible. You need a website.
An image is worth a thousand words. Don’t you want to have a say in what they’re saying?
Does your business need a website?
Well, that depends on whether or not you want to:
- show up in Google search results
- have control over your brand
- be able to guide people on their user journey
- curate your social proofing
- provide superior value and customer service to your customers
- use media effectively
Only you can make that decision. Just know that 71% of small businesses have websites, and they’re already getting these benefits. If you want to also, you need a website.
Remember, a website does not guarantee overnight success. It takes time for even the best website to make an impact on a business. But without one, think of all the advantages you aren’t getting that your competitors are.
Getting a website is one of the best investments you can make in your business. It rescues you from obscurity and puts the power of controlling your own message, brand, and public relations in your hands.
It adds a layer of professionalism to your business and can help build your credibility, which can help convert potential customers into customers and increase your revenue.
People buy from people and businesses they know, like, and trust. In order for people to know, like, and trust you, you need a way to show them who you are and what you do. A website lets you do just that.