Recently a new client asked me if they should even bother with having a website for their San Francisco Bay Area business. I was kinda surprised to get pitched this question — to me, having a website for a business has been an absolute requirement for the last decade or so. When I asked how they thought their business could get along without some sort of a web presence, the answer essentially was, "We are getting all of our leads from our Facebook Business Page." At that point, I strongly encouraged management to investigate getting at least a basic site up immediately and not to depend soley on the whims of Mark Zuckerberg and company. For my money, EVERY business needs a well built website with effective SEO, and here's why:
Social Media Should Only be a Part of your Online Strategy
Just utilizing social networks as an advertising channel is a great deal like picking the hottest selling item in your shop and trashing the rest of your inventory. What happens if the supplier of that product jacks up the price or even takes it off the market? What happens if (when) consumer preferences change? I think you get what I am saying here. In the investment world, a good broker will constantly preach diversity in your portfolio to protect against potential loss of assets and income. It's an age old tradition and it's the same with online sales and business advertising. Just because Facebook (or some other social media platform) is performing well for your business today doesn't mean it will still be effective by the same time next year. You have to be prepared to step up your marketing with a variety of channels and not put all your eggs in one basket.
Social Media Marketing versus Search Engine Optimization
Social media is a dynamic, hungry and powerful beast that changes its very nature almost constantly. In the short run it can be an extraordinary promotion source for your business. The problem is social marketing results are transitory and difficult to predict accurately over time. By comparison, a website is a "static" promotion channel, over which you have 95% control! Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you decide what features, products and verbiage appear on your site and what needs to be promoted at any given time and not some mysterious algorithm. As long as you keep paying for hosting and your domain name, your site will keep on promoting your business 24/7. No company can take that away from you. As a matter of fact, your website is probably one of the most stable business resources at your disposal.
Good Website Design Helps Businesses Stand Out from the Crowd
Way back in the 20th century, a prominent Yellow Pages ad was a must have for fledgling entrepreneurs to succeed. Flash forward to 2015, and like it or not, Google is now the new Yellow Pages. The problem with traditional Yellow Page ads is that they only change once a year. Online advertising adapts instantly and morphs to current consumer demands. Since search engines are getting better and better at anticipating our buying habits, they will probably still be around for many years to come in some form or the other. Most potential buyers start with an internet search before making a purchase and their only interaction with your business may be your website. Today it is even more important to have a well designed professional website as the forward face of your company.
Consumer Still Don't do their Online Shopping on Social Media
Most consumers don't go to Facebook to search for a product or service. They are on Facebook to waste time at work or to simply cure boredom, and to connect with friends. In fact, most consumers are not in "shopping mode" when they are visiting social media sites and will actively ignore obvious ads.
To make matters worse, your super duper Facebook post or paid ad isn't likely to show up in Search Engine results. Why should it? Google isn't getting paid to help a potential rival like Facebook or Twitter make money off your eyeballs. You know what does show up in search results? Yup, you guessed it - content from your website! So, while having a decent social presence is still necessary to maintain a dialog with consumers, you need a good website design to capture visitors who are ready to buy your product or services.
Having a Great Website Doesn't have to be Hard
So why do a lot of smart operators still not have a website? Well, not everyone is a Web Developer or Search Engine Optimization Specialist. The goods new is there are a lot of professionals willing and able to help businesses get online. Even better once a site is professionally setup, business owners can utilize a Content Management System (CMS), like WordPress or Joomla to update their content themselves on a regular basis, no nerd required.
With this all this being said, there is truly no reason for an established business not to have at least a one page website.
Cover image courtesy of Infusionsoft