7 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need To Be Online

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Think your business is too small to warrant a website? Think again. In 2017, companies of all sizes need modern, professional (and mobile-friendly!) websites in order to stay relevant and competitive.

If you want to engage with your current client base and also attract new customers, your website should feature all of the essential information about your business (i.e. about, contact info, menu, address, etc.) and shine the spotlight on what sets you apart. Whether your customer service is stellar or you have one-of-a-kind offerings, make sure that website visitors know it from the moment they arrive and remember it after they leave.

In years past, small business owners could count on a great storefront location and word of mouth to attract customers. While those things are still important, they're no longer enough. Here are seven reasons why an online presence is essential:

Consumers Wish Small Businesses Had Better Websites

A survey of 6,000-plus U.S. consumers, conducted by Yodle Insights, found that consumers rank website improvements as the top change they are interested in seeing over the next year. One of the easiest ways to provide better service to customers and legitimize your business is to have a modern, user-friendly website that showcases your offerings.

Most consumers do online research before they shop

These days, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases and 76% of consumers want to see online reviews of local businesses prior to shopping. That means a company website, social media accounts and review sites like Yelp can be the difference between someone patronizing your business or not. If your location, contact information, menu, etc. aren't up to date, you risk losing business. Similarly, negative reviews and customer questions left unanswered on social media can make you look unprofessional and hurt your company's reputation.

People Love to Shop Online

If you sell items in a brick-and-mortar store and not online, you could be missing out on a big revenue-generating opportunity. According to Pew Research Center, roughly eight in 10 Americans are online shoppers; and 15% buy online on a weekly basis. 

Many Consumers Prefer to Book Appointments and Make Payments Online

According to the aforementioned survey by Yodle Insights, more than a quarter of consumers want local businesses to provide the option of booking appointments and managing billing and payments online. With automated systems set up, a modern, user-friendly website can take all the stress out of scheduling and managing payments for you and your clients.

Social Sharing is a Piece of Cake

When you have a user-friendly website and an active social media presence, customers can find and connect with you more easily. You can help create a loyal community around your brand by posting interesting content related to your business and, in turn, your fans can help spread the word about your business across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, with minimal effort.

You Can Learn from Your Customers And Your Competitors

A modern website and an active social media presence can offer unique insight into your customers, as well as your competition. By analyzing website traffic and social media engagement, you can learn about your client base, including demographics, likes and dislikes, which can all be used to inform business decisions. Additionally, you can monitor your competitors' social activity and determine how to set your business apart.

Advertising Will Get Easier

It's no secret: Advertising gets expensive—fast. To make matters worse, it's easy to feel like you're shooting in the dark. When every penny counts, you want to make sure that your ad is getting in front of the right people at a price that makes sense. With a modern website and an active social media presence, you gain the ability to create highly targeted digital advertising campaigns that reach the people who are most likely to benefit from your business.