All businesses should have a website these days.  Yes, ALL of them.  When I first joined the web hosting team, I couldn’t make that statement and believe it because surely there were cases where a website wasn’t necessary. At that time, I wasn’t completely convinced that all businesses needed a web presence.  The Internet had made it pretty obvious that a website can be an asset to any business.  An asset maybe, but a necessity?  Well, maybe not.  At least I believed that until one day when I needed to research a local retailer and they didn’t have a website.

I was visiting a pet food manufacturer’s website to find a local retailer.  I wanted to purchase their pet food locally instead of ordering it online from the manufacturer.  I was so excited to find a store within a mile from me.  I immediately searched for them but they didn’t have a website.  So how could I check their hours or make sure they still carried that brand or if they were still in business?  Talk about total disappointment!

Immediately I thought, “Now what? Don’t they want customers?”  I could call them, but I didn’t feel like it since I was on my computer. How much easier it would have been for me (a potential customer) to learn about that store if that retailer had a website.

Instead of calling, I decided to look up the next nearest store (which I think many consumers would do.) They had a website with the information I needed and more!  They had their hours, location and the best part of their website was that they had photos of their store (so I knew what it looked like) plus they noted that they had “on site parking”! What a great idea to provide this helpful information for new customers like me.  That’s when I realized having a website was an important tool in the small business owner’s arsenal and it is a necessity.

And that brings me to several reasons to have a website for your small business:

1) Competition.  This is one of the strongest  reasons to have a website.  You know your competitors have a website.  I mean not only your local retailers but also manufacturers and online sellers use websites as a way to communicate with existing and potential customers. It doesn’t mean that all of your competitors have a web presence but probably at least one nearby has a website!  Don’t lose customers to them!  If you are local, adding a printable map showing your location is a great convenience for your customer.

2)    Convenience.  If you have printed business cards and have a stack of them sitting on your counter, think of a website as your new digital business card. If a customer misplaces your printed business card then they can conveniently find you when you have a web presence. They will be able to get even more information about you and your business that could never fit on your paper business card.  Just imagine if someone asks one of your customers for a recommendation. Don’t you want to be the one who is recommended? It would be great if your customer said, “I don’t have their business card but you can visit their website!”

3)    Credibility. I’m sure you’ve heard a professional looking website provides you with your first chance at making a good impression on a customer.  A website shows that you are committed to your business and the customer is important to you. You might find that customers are more willing to do business with you because you have a website. Think of it as making that website investment for THEM!

4)     Build Relationships.  You can find value in having an online presence by building relationships with customers via your website by sending them monthly emails or newsletters to stay in touch.  It is easier to get people to visit your website and understand about your business. It is also a great customer service tool where customers can reach you 24 hours a day, any day of the week, by e-mail. Replying to their emails is a great way to develop a relationship with them! Building relationships in business through a website gives you a strong advantage.

5)    Advertising. Now this is a good one with which to end my list.  A website can be a very inexpensive form of advertising. You can offer your customers much more information about your products or services on a website than other forms of advertising. You can make changes —seasonal or monthly changes reflected with  photos or prices or have weekend specials.  The sky is the limit!  You can send emails and publicize sales and special offers.  What about an online limited offer?  What a fantastic way of showcasing your business and keeping customers!

My experience provided me with some insights on the value and importance of a business having a website. What a great way to be able to communicate important information to your customers.  It’s like a silent partner, providing an easy way for your customers to learn about you and your business. If you want more customers, I hope these reasons demonstrate how customers and websites can produce amazing results together.  A website provides a great opportunity to expand your business.  I hope you will consider creating one today.

What are some of the creative ways you’ve used or seen websites used for business growth? Share you ideas here with others so they can learn what you are doing.