It Used To Be The Yellow Pages, Now It’s Your Business Website

It wasn’t that long ago that the first place consumers went for general information about your business or products was the Yellow Pages. They couldn’t find detailed information and pricing about your products and services there but they could get your phone number, your address, and if you had a glitzy ad, a general feel for your business brand.

A business website, if you had it, was nice but not essential. Times have changed!

Today, consumers don’t need to talk to you or your staff to get a good feel for your business. They only need to visit your website. And chances are, it’s the first thing they’ll do before they call you or visit you.

If You Build It Will They Come?

Whether or not consumers call you or not will depend on what they find when they arrive on your business website, especially if you are brand new to them. If you don’t have a website they may simply call you. Or more likely, they’ll search and find other businesses who are online, your competitors.

If a good friend has highly recommended you to them, you may get a pass on a poorly designed and slow-loading website. Or you may not.

If a website visitor hasn’t been highly recommended to you by someone they know, and if you are just a new business to them, a poor website will most likely eliminate any chance you have of earning their business. What they see and experience on your website will likely stop them from contacting you.

When Visitors Arrive On Your Website

Today, the average consumer goes online to find what they are looking for. Whether this is because they found you through an online search, or whether they got your website address off of a business card, a flyer or from a friend.

No matter how they found out about you, their goal is to visit your website to learn more about you and what you offer.

When visitors land on your website, what they see/experience and the purpose of their visit will determine what they do next.

Will they:

  • Call to find out more?
  • Complete a contact form to find out more?
  • Ask for a quote?
  • Make a purchase?
  • Make an appointment?
  • Register for an event?
  • Visit your physical location? (If you have a storefront location)

Other Options Your Website May Offer To Visitors

There are many other options your website may offer to visitors. Here are a few of them:

  • Subscribing to an email newsletter
  • Subscribing to an RSS feed (to receive your blog articles)
  • Booking a free consult
  • Registering for an event
  • Booking an appointment
  • Signing up for membership (paid or free)

A visitors interest in taking any of these actions will be heavily influenced by the first impression they have of your business, created by your website.

Making A Good First Impression

Making a good first impression with your website is important because, according to a global Nielsen survey, consumers trust branded websites. In other words, consumers tend to believe what your website says about you.

This means you have the opportunity to shape how people think about your brand, from what they experience when they arrive on your website.

Of course, just as important is what they experience when they engage with your business directly or purchase something from you. But the first encounter, that first impression, plays an important role in paving the way for further encounters to take place. Like making a purchase, booking an appointment or placing an order.

Mobile Friendliness

Today, an important part of making a good impression is making sure your website is mobile-friendly. Because, according to Google, more people now search on mobile phones than computers!

In April 2015, Google made changes to their algorithm that made having a mobile-friendly website a search engine ranking factor! They recommended (and still do) that the best way to do this is by using responsive web design over other design patterns.

Mobile friendliness is also important because a growing percentage of online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones!

If your website is NOT mobile-friendly you are missing out!

More Reasons Why You Need A Website For Your Business

Here are a few more reasons why your business website is important:

1. When someone mentions your name, in passing or as a direct referral to someone, a search of your business name should result in your business website appearing at or near the top of the search results.

2. When you, or someone else, give your business card, a promotional flyer or some other marketing piece to others, your business website printed on the item becomes an important way for them to be able to check you out.

3. When potential customers drive by your business location, an online search of your business name should result in your business website coming up at the top, or very near the top, of the search results.

4. When your website address is displayed on a car banner, product, product packaging, etc. it makes it easy for consumers to find out more about you and your business by visiting your business website.

5. When your website address appears as part of your email signature, as a hyperlink, your website is just a click away for anyone wanting to find out more about your business.

6. When your website address is listed on your social profiles, learning more about your business, your products, and your services through your website is often the obvious next step.

10 Reasons People Will Visit Your Website

People visit business websites for a variety of reasons. Here are ten of those reasons:

  1. To get your phone number.
  2. To contact you through your contact form or email.
  3. To see where you are physically located.
  4. To discover your service area.
  5. To find answers to general or specific questions they may have.
  6. To learn more about specific products/services.
  7. To investigate and/or compare products/services and prices.
  8. To read reviews and testimonials, to check out what others have to say about you and/or your products/services.
  9. To purchase products and/or services online.
  10. To get a feel for your business and what you might be like to deal with.

Visiting your small business website allows consumers to find out about you:

  • From the privacy and comfort of their own home or office.
  • While shopping in your store and before they take the next step or buy your product.

Build A Website With Curb Appeal

Visiting a website for the first time is somewhat like doing a drive-by on a house listed for sale.

The external appearance or ‘curb appeal’ of the house, before digging deeper, helps potential buyers decide whether they’d like to see the inside of the house or not. If it doesn’t have ‘curb appeal’ visitors may never go further than ‘driving by’. One look at the external appearance may be all they need to decide they don’t want to see more. The inside may be quite attractive and well laid out. But, if the first impression – the curb appeal – isn’t there, visitors may never go further than the quick ‘drive by’. One look is all they may need to decide they don’t want to see more.

So too with your business website. If it doesn’t have ‘curb appeal’ visitors may never go further than ‘driving by’. One look at the page they first land on may be all they need to decide they don’t want to see more. The inside of the site might be well laid out, attractive and content-rich. But, if the curb appeal isn’t there, visitors may never go further than a quick ‘drive by’ before they leave your website, never to return.

Even if the inside of the site is well laid out and content-rich, if the curb appeal isn’t there when visitors first arrive, they may never go further than a quick ‘drive by’ before they leave your website, never to return.

Things That Influence New Visitors To Your Website

When it comes to your website, curb appeal or a first impression will be influenced by the look and feel of your website when visitors arrive for their ‘drive by’. A few of the immediate things that will influence visitors are:

Of course, while curb appeal is important, what your overall website offers is also important. Curb appeal simply makes it more likely a potential customer will want to see more of what your business has to offer.

Without website curb appeal, you’ll likely lose that chance.

The Cost Of Building Or Fixing Your Website

Whether you are looking at building your first business website or making improvements to an existing one, it needn’t cost a small fortune. If you already have a website built on a Content Management System like WordPress, so much the better.

Of course, some businesses require a level of functionality and complexity that is much more expensive. But for many businesses, this is not the case.

The quality of the images and content used for your website along with the layout, design and functionality are important! Just having a website is not enough. How that website represents your business, your brand, is hugely important.

It’s not about having all the bells and whistles. In fact, sometimes these can actually hurt the experience visitors have on your site rather than help it.

But the cost to your business of not having a website, or of having a website that does not work well for your business, is far greater than the cost of having a website that works well for your business and its target audience.

In an online world where consumer decisions are heavily influenced by what they see online, having a website that represents your business well has never been more important.

This article first appeared on the Growing Social Biz blog.