When you’re first starting out, it can feel like everyone has a hand in your pocket. The money rolls in, and then it usually rolls right back out in the form of:
- Permit and licensing fees.
- Inventory costs.
- Insurance premiums.
It’s easy to see why entrepreneurs may want to put off any expense that seems unnecessary. But before you decide that your small business website falls into that category, check out what these experts say about its benefits.
Website Profitability in the Short Term: Ecommerce & Lead Capture
“Regardless of whether or not your business is online or brick-and-mortar, it is absolutely naive to think that a website is not important,” says Min Lee, the senior vice president of business development for CertaPet (@CertaPet). “Today's consumers, out of reflex, will always resort to the Internet for validation when considering a business to patronize.”
Lee goes on to say that your business’s web presence will become more important as more consumers enter the prime consumer demographic – 18- to 35-year olds with expendable income.
Moreover, co-founder and managing partner of the marketing communications agency lotus823 (@lotus823) David Hernandez says a website is one place online where you can exert some control over your business's sales.
“Within social media, there are limits in content posting, such as limits on long-form content,” says Hernandez. “Without a website, you have nowhere to drive conversions.”
To demonstrate his point, Hernandez tells the story of a local doughnut shop that resisted building a website because their business was geared toward social. Any time a media outlet wanted to promote the shop, they had nowhere to direct fans. As a result, says Hernandez, they missed opportunities to connect with prospects.
Plus, it's not impossible to use social media to capture leads – it's just much easier to do on a website where you can create resources and content your audience wants in exchange for their contact information. Armed with that information, you can nurture relationships and guide prospects through your sales funnel.
The takeaway: If your products or services can be bought online, a website is your best bet at driving those sales. Even if your goal is to set up face-to-face meetings or drive consumers to your store, a website's ability to help you capture leads can lead to more sales, too.
Website Profitability in the Long Term: SEO and Reputation Building
Perhaps the biggest long-term benefit of creating a website is increasing your business’s visibility. As Lee says, your website gives you a “louder voice” and “more opportunities to cast a wider net with that louder voice.”
In fact, simply having a website can help your business appear in search results when potential customers search for the kind of services or products you offer.
Hernandez adds, “Over time, you'll be able to collect data on user engagement with your website and learn how people are discovering your business online.”
That can give you the insight you need to tailor your content and help draw more traffic.
And as CEO and founder of the marketing consulting firm Strazanac Solutions (@StrazSolutions) Samantha R. Strazanac reminds us, having a website shows that your are serious. In her words, it “validates and legitimizes your business and shows you’re a true professional.”
The takeaway: Instead of looking at your site solely as a moneymaker, focus on the boost it gives to your business's visibility and reputation. Keep in mind that people expect all businesses, no matter the size, to have a website. Not having one may make your business appear unprofessional.
Tips for Making Your Website Profitable
The insights you can gain from a long-tail marketing plan are only going to come if you can draw potential clients to your site. To make that happen, you want to your website to have…
- Fresh content.
- Purposeful design.
- SEO basics.
Get the details in “3 Key Elements Every Small-Business Website Should Have.”
However, if the SEO and content marketing payoff seem too far away, Jennifer Goodwin (@thatJENgirl), owner of Internet Girl Friday, has a suggestion: hook your sales funnel to your website. She says you can have a website that is merely a landing page with built-in sales funnel software.
For example, small-business owners can run a Facebook advertisement promoting a $10 coupon. When a customer clicks on the ad, they’re taken to a site where they enter their email address. From there, the customer is moved through the rest of the sales funnel. According to Goodwin, your sales funnel determines whether you need a full-blown site or a simple landing page that converts traffic into customers.
The takeaway: Ultimately, your website needs are determined by your business goals. Plan carefully so your site matches your needs. The post “These 4 Elements Will Make or Break Your Business’s Online Presence” can help.
About the Contributors
Jennifer Goodwin is the owner and founder of www.internetgirlfriday.com, an award-winning Internet marketing agency that helps veterans and small businesses launch their ideas online.
David Hernandez is the co-founder and managing partner of the New Jersey-based integrated marketing communications agency lotus823.
Min S. Lee is currently the SVP of business development for www.certapet.com and www.companionanimals.org. He is passionate about animals and loves playing golf in his spare time. Min is a native of San Diego, California, and has a background in finance and investments.
Samantha Strazanac owns Strazanac Solutions, a small marketing consulting firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a focus on SEO, link building, websites, content marketing, and social media management. Strazanac enjoys introducing new marketing strategies to brands and clients who have never considered branching out from their traditional marketing tactics. When she isn’t in the office, Samantha enjoys trying out new recipes for her friends and ballroom dancing.