In today’s world filled with social media, many small business owners are wondering if they need a website at all. The answer is a resounding “yes!” Facebook and other sites are great tools for attracting new customers, but they only represent part of the puzzle. A successful small business owner will use all of the tools in his or her arsenal to create a full marketing plan that includes social media. The real question is not whether a small business needs a website, but how to incorporate all of the different media into a cohesive approach that generates new customers.
The process requires planning and devotion to be successful. Both are reasons why most small businesses miss the mark. The problem is often related to poor planning and failure to devote time to keeping the information current. If you skimp on either of these elements, you might as well give up on marketing through the Internet. This does not mean that hours of time must be spent updating Facebook, but a quick post or update a day is vital.
The reality is that Facebook is a great tool for growing a customer base, but it is limited in functionality. If you want people to purchase your service or product, you must provide them with more than a quick page with updates. This is where a professional website ties into the marketing plan. The goal is to use Facebook to generate interest and leads which will encourage potential customers to go to your website for more information, to make a purchase, or schedule an appointment. Facebook is about “lead generation” and creating customer loyalty.
In this scenario, your website should be devoted to closing the sale. This means providing a shopping cart to purchase the product mentioned in a Facebook update. It might also mean allowing customers to go directly to your website to schedule an appointment for the service you offered a discount for on Facebook for “today only.” The key is to create a website that allows you to close the deal that you started on Facebook.
In addition, your website will act as your storefront or office. It provides your business with a level of integrity and legitimacy that Facebook or other social media cannot provide. In addition, a website can go into more details about a service or product and answer specific questions. This allows your business to essentially be open 24 hours a day. Your website can also reach customers through organic searches on Google or Yahoo that might be overlooked on Facebook. The reality is that Facebook is a place for fun, so your ad might be missed by a potential customer that is too busy playing games or chatting with friends. Customers that find your website through a search are looking for what you have to offer. These people are ready to buy and not providing a platform for them to find your service does not make sense.
So no matter how popular Facebook is or some other social media outlet becomes, a website should be an essential part of any marketing plan. It is great to take advantage of sites like Youtube to provide customers with a visual look at a product or keep people in touch with your company on Facebook, but if you want to close sales you need a landing point. That stationary area on the Internet that acts as your store or office should always be a professionally designed website.
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