With the abundance of marketing channels online and offline these days, investing in a website may seem like a waste of money and time. But before you decide to opt-out of building a site, you’ll want to consider your niche, audience, and business needs, as well as whether there are alternative channels suited to each.
Only with this thoughtful consideration can you get the best answer to the question: Do I need a website to meet my business goals?
Focusing your resources is a smart move whenever you’re building a digital marketing strategy. However, it can be hard to narrow down exactly which channels you want to invest in, especially when each one offers its own unique benefits.
This article will get you a step closer to perfecting your strategy by helping you decide whether the cost of making a website is worth it.
Do I need a website?
If you’ve ever considered creating a business website, you know that the process isn’t as simple as plugging in content and pushing it online. While websites have become more affordable over the years, they’re still an ongoing investment. The average website costs hundreds of dollars each year to host and maintain—even a basic website design can cost you $3,000.
This price tag can be prohibitive, especially for small business owners with limited funds. Plus, consumers are continually seeking the best user experience possible, which means you can’t just look for the cheapest web design and web development rates. Fast load times, mobile-friendly pages, and a clean interface are just some of the basics that website owners must maintain if they want to make a good first impression.
Despite the financial drawbacks, professional websites are a necessity for many companies. Let’s review when you need a website and when you don’t.
When a website is necessary
Practically every business today needs to have a website or be in the process of building one. While it may be true that almost 46% of small businesses don’t have their own websites, the majority of larger businesses do. This figure demonstrates how essential websites are for continued growth in the digital age.
A website is crucial for any business that wants to reach any of the following sales and marketing goals faster:
- Capture and convert more leads: Contact forms and lead-capturing tools like Podium Webchat are easy to embed on websites. On the other hand, marketing channels like Facebook pages and LinkedIn pages may get many visitors who leave without even thinking of providing their contact information.
- Reach more potential customers: Focusing on search engine optimization (SEO) on your blog, web pages, or landing pages can help people find you when searching on Google.
- Get more insight on consumer behavior: Powerful analytics tools can be used in conjunction with any website, giving you insight into everything from page views and read-through rates to what shoppers are adding to their carts and purchasing.
- Build your brand: A website is one of the most effective tools for building your online presence. It tells new customers (and current customers) everything they need to know about your brand and what it stands for, so they don’t need to hear it from anyone else.
When a website is optional
Creating a new website is often one of the first steps that business owners take after writing a business plan. However, there are a few situations where a website can be optional. We’ll give you three examples.
First, if you’re running a new business and only have enough money to invest in the cost of making your products, a website may be a secondary need—at least in the beginning.
For example, many artisans start off without an e-commerce website, as they only have enough cash to purchase materials for their crafts. Initially, they may generate much of their income through Etsy. However, once they develop a brand and greater sales, they can transition to their own website and avoid seller fees.
Second, you may not need a website if your target audience is not online. Admittedly, this is rare since 90% of the adults in the U.S. are internet users. However, this may be the case if you largely serve elderly, rural, or financially disadvantaged groups.
As a final example, a website may be optional if you’ve already built a successful social media-based brand, and your cash flow is almost entirely dependent on building your social network.
This is often the case with social media influencers—particularly those who don’t sell their own products or run a blog. Though a portfolio may be helpful to influencers, their real selling point can be seen just by visiting their social media channels.
Regardless of your situation, it’s still a good idea to invest in your own website when you have the means to do so. Even though social media platforms and similar channels have become more advanced in recent times, websites remain one of the most versatile marketing and sales tools out there.
The importance of having a website
Even if a website isn’t necessary for your business to operate, it’s often expected by your potential customers and stakeholders. A professional website demonstrates your credibility right off the bat, as it tells your audience that you’re serious about your business and gives them more information about your brand. Without an online presence, consumers might not even consider your brand to be legitimate.
Shoppers see a company’s website as an important resource that can give them the answers they need. While they may want to learn about your trustworthiness and quality of work from their peers, they want information about your products and services, pricing structure, store hours, policies, and more straight from you. Not all of this will fit on your social media pages. With your website, you can keep well-organized evergreen pages that your consumers can easily find.
Consumers expect to have, at the very least, a landing page (with a call to action) that they can turn to once they’re interested in your brand. With this basic web presence, you give shoppers a place to learn more after seeing your online marketing campaigns. On this same page, they should be able to easily submit their email address or phone number as well.
Without a site to view, these same shoppers may choose to turn to your competitors—and you won’t have the analytics to show how many people found you through Google.
Maximize your website
Having a website is a must for most businesses, and even when it’s optional, it’s still highly recommended. Your website presents new opportunities to build credibility, capture more leads, and learn about the shoppers who visit your site. It can also prevent potential customers from slipping away to competitors who have a more well-rounded, website-driven strategy.
Once your website is up, you can start taking action to ensure your marketing efforts are worth the investment. Learn how to make your website work smarter, not harder and start maximizing your online presence today.