Nowadays, we are so heavily reliant upon technology that it’s hard to believe so many small businesses are yet to adopt an online presence. We’re not just talking social media here; 25% of small businesses still don’t even have their own website.
Considering Google is the initial port of call for 67% of consumers when looking for local products and services, business owners who have neglected to set up a web presence could be missing out on hundreds of potential business opportunities.
And since there are so many obvious benefits to having your own website (especially one that is fully mobile-friendly), it leads us to wonder why business owners are choosing to opt out of what we consider to be a necessary tool in today’s increasingly integrated marketing environment.
We suspect that many small business owners have been slow to adapt to new technology because they don’t fully understand how it works, or how it could benefit their business. And instead of being proactive and taking the necessary steps to find out more, many simply choose to go without.
Unfortunately, this means that lots of successful, established businesses are losing out to competitors who are already making use of the available technology, and are primed to build more business because of it.
And while it’s easy for us to tell you that you need a website, we understand that the realm of digital marketing can be hugely overwhelming to an outsider; the endless upkeep and evolution can be enough to put anyone off.
So with this post, we’re going to go back to the basics (sort of), to outline some of the reasons you definitely should think about commissioning your own responsive website, even if that’s all you ever do in the way of “online marketing”. As important as it is to engage in the other areas of digital marketing, like social networking and pay per click advertising, investing in a fully mobile-friendly website is (in our eyes) the best place to start. So, let’s explore some of the reasons why:
Websites are always accessible; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This enables both your returning and potential new customers to access information about your business and the products and services that you provide even when your shop or office is closed.
And while mobile-friendliness has always been an important element of web design, Google’s latest mobile friendly algorithm update, dubbed “mobilegeddon” by many, has only emphasised the importance of responsive web design (RWD).
It may come as little surprise to you that mobile is fast becoming the most popular way to browse the internet. And since the most popular time of day for mobile internet usage is between 6 and 8pm, (when most businesses have already finished for the day), it makes sense to a.) create a medium through which your business can always be accessed, and b.) optimise it for use on all devices.
Target a Wider Market
As of 2015, there are more than 3 billion active internet users worldwide, and figures suggest that more than 55% of those users access online content via mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones (in fact, there are now more mobile devices in the World than there are people!).
While a non-mobile friendly website should still open your business up to a wider circle of potential customers, it just doesn’t make sense to isolate the ever-increasing population of mobile-users by providing them with a poor mobile experience. Just think about the number of times you may have landed on a web page when browsing on your phone, only to have given up on it because it took forever to load. Or maybe the content was hanging off your screen and as a result you couldn’t find what you were looking for?
By no means am I suggesting that commissioning a responsive website will put you in front of every person with a mobile internet connection in the World. What I am saying however, is that investing in a fully mobile-friendly website will certainly increase your scope of potential visitors (both locally and internationally), and encourage the ones that do land on your website to engage with and explore your content more positively.
Speaking of targeting wider audiences, ensuring your website is fully mobile-friendly could put you in front of even more potential customers by increasing your chances of appearing in Google’s top search results.
As we’ve mentioned a thousand times before in many of our previous posts, Google loves responsive web design. The search giant has long recommended using responsive design to support different devices and screen sizes, but since announcing last year that it would be penalising non-mobile-friendly websites, responsive design has become an absolute must for new web build projects.
While your website may not be actively bumped up in the search results pages for using responsive design, it certainly won’t be pushed down, which is often the case for those that fail to cater to mobile audiences.
This means if your website is considered fully mobile-friendly, its chances of being found by users completing unbranded searches (those that target your general market sector, but not your brand name specifically) will be much greater. Though SEO is affected by hundreds of other factors, making sure your website is fully functional on mobile devices is a good place to start.
Get Ahead of the Competition
If you’re in direct competition with another business that has a website, they already have a clear competitive advantage.
Not only will it give the impression that the organisation is legitimate and well-established, but it also means they have a medium through which they can advertise their products and services. Not to mention provide useful information that will help to convince any potential customers to purchase from them instead of you.
Very few products are bought on impulse, and almost all of your customers will want to do a little bit of research before they commit to a purchase. The internet makes this very easy to do, and consumers are relying more on their mobile devices than ever before to acquire information. In fact, recent research highlights that more than 90% of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in retail stores to compare prices, search for product information and read consumer reviews.
And while your competition may already be established in the online environment, as little as 11.8% of the internet is actually fully responsive. This means you still have the chance to get ahead of your competition by making sure your new website adequately caters to a mobile audience.
So there you have it. Although these are just a few of the benefits associated with commissioning a responsive website, they are definitely worth taking seriously.
Once you have your new, responsive website up and running, the next step is to begin promoting it to the people you want to retain as consistent clients, and those that have the potential to convert as new customers. There are a handful of ways you can do this, including:
- Through social media – platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and G+ are the perfect outlets for sharing updates and special offers, and enable you to create backlinks to specific pages on your website. Be careful not to spam your followers with too many promotional or ‘salesy’ posts though, as these can become irritating and could end up earning you a few unfollows. Try to mix it up by sharing things that will be of interest to your audience, like interesting videos or external news articles, always making sure they are relevant to and appropriate for your audience.
- By investing in SEO – as mentioned briefly above, optimising your website for search can help to get your business in front of people that may never come across it otherwise. Google is the first port of call for many users, so the higher you can get in those results pages for a variety of different search phrases, the better. Don’t fall for the “too-good-to-be-true” “£100-a-month” SEO packages from dodgy-looking offshore providers though. Make sure you do some proper research, and gain an understanding of what needs to be done both on and offsite to produce positive results.
- By running an AdWords campaign – If you don’t have the money to invest in long-term SEO, running an AdWords campaign can be a good way to push some traffic to your website, and you might even generate a bit of short-term income. A word of warning though; AdWords will only work as long as you continue to pay for it. Not to mention, the interface is notoriously tricky to use, and it can be difficult to know where to start! So, make sure you read up about it first, or get a professional to handle it for you.
- By distributing print media – Though a large proportion of marketing has gone digital in recent years, there is definitely still a place for print advertising, and it can be a good way of directing people to your website for more information. Obviously you’ll need to ensure that your web address is printed on every piece of correspondence that you distribute (for example your business card or price list). Then all you need to do is wait for the traffic to start flooding in.
- Through consistent blogging – If you’re posting a new blog post to your website every week, you’re constantly adding fresh, up to date content, which Google absolutely loves (as long as it’s as original as can be, and of good value to your readers). You can then post snippets of your work to your social media accounts, directing your readers to your website for the full story.