Even in today’s digital age, many industries still thrive on word-of-mouth to grow their businesses. Looking for a new accountant? Most people are likely to reach out to business contacts for a referral. Is the tap leaking? A friend or neighbor will volunteer the name of a good plumber. If you’re in an industry in which customers are spreading the word about your business, then maybe a website really isn’t necessary — or is it?
Perhaps 5-10 years ago that might’ve been true. However, today a website is essential for every business owner. Not only does it provide credibility, it also ensures potential customers can learn about your services, hear what people think about your work, and, most importantly, contact you. Here are a few reasons why you absolutely need a website, even if you run a word-of-mouth business.
A website provides customers with a 24/7 virtual storefront
Let’s imagine that a potential customer has just been told about your services from a friend, but it’s late in the evening. They probably have questions about your business hours, phone number, and — if you run a storefront — your address. Referrals don’t often include detailed information; usually all that’s passed on is your name.
Today, a lot of people don’t keep around bulky Yellow Pages. They also expect instant access to information. So when that potential customer hears about your business, the first thing they’ll do is grab their smartphone and go online. If you have a website, they’ll get the answers they need. If you don’t, they’re likely to stumble on one of your competitors and choose them instead.
A website helps you take advantage of positive reviews
While word-of-mouth recommendations from family, friends, and business connections are some of the most powerful referrals you can get, helpful reviews from strangers also have a huge impact on purchasing decisions. According to recent studies, 97% of customers say that reviews influence their buying decisions. What’s more, 92% of customers say that they hesitate to make a purchase if there are no online customer reviews available.
Make the most of reviews by adding a Testimonials page to your website. Another good tactic is adding reviews throughout your the site in sidebars, call-outs on various pages, and carousel headers at the top of your webpage. To really give customers a good sense of your business value, feature reviews that include helpful details. If you don’t have any reviews yet, reach out to past customers and ask if they’d be willing to contribute. Then, work on increasing your online reviews by implementing strategies to motivate satisfied customers to write them. This way, you can turn personal recommendations into multiple sales.
A website provides information about you and your services
If your work lends itself well to photographs or an online portfolio, why not show it off? It’s one thing to hear what great work you do, it’s another thing to actually prove it. If your services are less visual, it’s great to just offer a Services page where you can provide customers with details and pricing.
Include an About Us page with your name, a story about your business, and even a photo to create a personal connection with visitors. Customers like getting a feel of what it’ll be like working with you. Everyone appreciates doing business with someone they’re comfortable with.
A website improves customer service
Current and future customers probably have common questions about your company. What are your returns or cancellation policies? Is there more product information available? What differentiates your business from the competition? As your business grows, it’s likely that a greater portion of your day will be consumed fielding customer calls and emails to repeatedly answer the same questions.
This doesn’t have to be an inevitability, though. Customers appreciate answering their own questions online. With a website, you can create FAQs, Returns, and Policies pages to preempt common customer questions and concerns. Not only will this make customers happy, it’ll also save you a lot of extra time every day.
A website increases customer trust
While a personal referral will give your business a big boost in credibility, it’s not always enough. With everyone shopping online these days, people tend to automatically expect legitimate businesses to have websites. It’s today’s equivalent of a storefront or an office building.
Without a website, you’re considerably less trustworthy in the eyes of customers. And few things matter more in business than trust. Instead of making customers wary about whether you even operate a legitimate company, create a website and give them a feeling of comfort and trust that your business is established, available, and ready to serve their needs.
Too busy? Start with a single page
If these reasons aren’t enough to motivate you to create a business website, consider this: your competitors all have websites. Every time a potential customer hears about your business, they will immediately start searching online to learn more about you and read what other people are saying. If they can’t find anything, they’re probably going to choose another business that they can learn more about.
Today, a rudimentary single page website is better than not having a website at all. Plus, a strong domain name is easier to remember than a phone number. To make sure customers can find your business online quickly, create a domain name that’s straightforward and effortless. The best way to do this is to go with one of the newer domain extensions, like .US, which ensure you can get your first choice in domain names and even let people know where you're located.