Does My Business Need a Website? Consumers Respond!

Last Thursday my friend and I were chatting a bit about how his business is going. He recently started a business that offers some nice premium perks. I asked him when he was thinking about having a website built because he’s been doing so well. He told me that he’s been so busy that he hasn’t gotten around to it. He still wasn’t sure if his business needed a website.

Although you don’t need a website to start a business, you should build one sooner than later. It is recommended you at least purchase your domain and forward it to a business social page, such as a Facebook™ Page. That way, when you’re ready, you can build a website with the domain you already own. Not doing at least this will leave money on the table over time.

You may think that you don’t need a website or social presence, but odds are you may be wrong. After surveying over 60 locals across three cities in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California, the overwhelming majority want some kind of online presence, with a website being on top. You can see the full data of the study at the bottom of this page.

Why Does My Business Need a Website?

Before websites were a thing, consumers expected business owners to have a business card. Was it necessary? Probably not, but a great deal of consumers would feel more comfortable knowing that someone they were doing business with had a business card because it would make their business look legitimate. A website, among a few other things, are now the business cards of our day. But what does the consumer think?

It’s got to at least have a website, I could care less about social media but I feel if they don’t even have a website, how legit and on top of their business can they be? ????

P.S. from City A

You may be asking yourself, “but what about a social presence? I’m on [this social network] and [that social network]!” Having a social presence does help and I will go over that on another post, but the website is almost always on top. Again, it’s not the end-all and be-all of your marketing efforts, but your consumer over all does want you to have one.

For me, a decent, informative website trumps a fb or IG presence. I do read yelp reviews, but take them with a grain of salt, based on the content of the review.

M.M. from City A

So what’s an informative website? Are there other types of websites? The short answer is that there are many forms of websites, and each solve a problem (or set of problems) that your business needs. In the beginning, when you first start, the most common website people start with is the Informative Website. Depending on your needs, you may also have need of an eCommerce website where you sell products. Finally, there are custom solutions that can fit the exact needs of your business. Let’s start with the first one and tackle them one-by-one.

The Informative Website

There are a lot of definitions out there on what an informative website is. Over the years, I’ve come to adopt this as my own definition:

The informative website has relevant information about your business and is presented in a way that makes sense for a consumer. This information can include a brief statement of your business, images, videos, blog posts, free downloads, invitation to subscribe to your newsletter, terms and conditions, and a privacy policy, which may required by law depending on your state (such as California). You do not have to have everything mentioned, but elements of the above should be included on an informative website.

Yes I would feel more confident because you can go on a website for the particular business and find out more about it, what’s offered, prices, etc. Reviews., etc.

S.M. from City C

The biggest difference between an informative website and any other type of website is that you don’t sell on it. When you add the ability to buy things, it becomes an eCommerce website and we’ll go over that soon.

Although you don’t sell anything on this type of website, that’s not to say it can help your bottom line. Using blog posts, free downloads, and newsletters can greatly help attract new customers if used correctly. How do you do it correctly? The answer to that question can be its own set of posts, but the short answer is testing until you find what works in your situation.

Your informative website can be a powerful tool to help attract your customers and have them give you a chance to make the sell. It’s a way of being transparent within your business and many people are looking for that. Consumers need to trust you, and they’ll only do business if a sense of trust is first established. This can be using a website, or having them come in, or talking with someone on the phone. Your website is a way to establish trust.

I wouldn’t say I find a website or facebook page confidence inspiring, but it does help me learn more about businesses I pass while on errands without taking much time out of my day. I definitely am more likely to remember and use their services if I can find a website for them.

S.Y. from City B

The eCommerce Website

If you would like to sell on your website, then your informative website upgrades to an eCommerce Website.

An eCommerce Website offers the consumer a way to purchase your product, service, subscription, or membership directly from your website. If you sell goods, then a means for shipping would be included in that. There are many ways to add eCommerce functionality to your website, primarily using third-party applications (known as add-ons, plugins, etc) that enable the ability to securely accept payment on your website and fulfill the purchase.

I’d love restaurants even more if they had their very own delivery drivers, I hate using the delivery services. They charge way too much.

S.F. from City C

eCommerce on a website is a convenience for the consumer. The quote above is an example that someone would use a restaurant website to purchase food to have it delivered. When you have this type of service built in, a restaurant can save money from needing to use other services such as Uber Eats and GrubHub.

Selling clothing, tickets, subscription boxes, etc can all be started at a lower price point than having a custom website built. For example, a restaurant can use the third-party WordPress plugin “GloriaFood” to build your menu with a way for a consumer to purchase meals that goes directly to your kitchen printer once the payment is accepted. “WooCommerce” is a great way to start selling goods and downloads.

You have a lot of options when starting to sell on your website. If your budget does not permit hiring a professional, do your research and experiment with different technologies until you find the one that’s easiest for you to learn and implement.

Earlier I mentioned a custom website. Everything I’ve mentioned up until this point could be build on free platforms such as WordPress (which is what I recommend. If you’re wondering how you can start a WordPress website, check out this video). A custom website, however, is a whole different beast. Like its name suggests, it’s a fully custom solution for your business.

The Custom Website

Typically used when a business, startup or otherwise, has funding, a custom solution may be an option should you require custom functionality, such as a Social Network.

A Custom Website is a solution that is used to create specific functionality that is based on the needs of the business that is building it. Although many advanced functionality may be commercially available, a custom website gives the business owner the exact control it needs to build it to their unique requirements. An example of this are Social Networks. Each one (Facebook™, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc) has unique requirements that cannot be replicated by an over-the-counter pre-built solution. Another example of custom websites are Uber Eats and GrubHub.

It’s rare that a business owner would take the time to learn the intricacies of code, as it would greatly detract from their day-to-day business responsibilities. Solutions like WordPress can solve the need for the majority of newer and established businesses alike. Does your business need a custom solution? It would be advisable to at least consult with a website professional as I can’t know your particular businesses needs.

However, knowing that this may be a solution for you can be of benefit later as your needs expand and as your budget increases.

The Study Data

I surveyed over 60 people across three cities in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. This study was conducted in May 2021. From that survey, I went through each individual response and mapped what each consumer preferred. Below are the charts from that survey.

A total of 61 people participated

City A comprised of 31.1% of the people

City B comprised of 37.7% of the people

City C comprised of 31.1% of the people

37.1% Want a Website

21.3% Want Social

13.5% Want to See Reviews

10.1% Prefer to Visit First

4.5% Search Online

4.5% Reference Word-of-Mouth

9% Gave No Response

From those surveyed, 59% were women and 41% were men based on their individual profile, between the ages of 25 – 60.

Conclusion

I’m always going to defer to what the majority of the consumer prefers. As you can see from the data above, having a website and a relevant social presence is essential in todays age.

Building a website may be tedious to the beginner, but there are ways to make it easier. If you use a service like Wordify, you can build a website for free to test before paying it goes public. At the very least, I highly recommend you purchase the domain and forward it to your social profile of choice. Doing that will at least give you the ability to hold on to that domain and use it for your website once you’re ready. Otherwise, build an informative website so the majority of people will find the information they’re looking easier and faster.

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