Let's get back to basics, and by basics we mean websites. A website is the base from which most businesses emanate these days. It's a no-brainer for most companies but some SME's (small and medium-sized enterprise) still question if they need one.
Definitions for what an SME is, differs from country to country. In the European Union, for example, SME's are companies that have and headcount of between 10 and 250 and turnover between EUR10m and EUR50m.
In the UAE, the definition follows is a similar set of numbers, but distinctions are made depending on whether it's a trading, manufacturing or service company. For the sake of argument, this post includes the full spectrum including micro companies i.e. from a one-man band up to 250 employees and any turnover below AED250m. Why? Because it's hard to think of any business that should not be concerned about having a website!
Statistics on display at internetlivestats.com show that about five new websites are created every second. This rate has been growing exponentially since 2000, and the total currently sits at over one and a half billion. So today, if an enterprise does not have a website, it's pretty hard to take it seriously.
Which leads us onto the first reason why it's important for an SME to have a website - credibility.
A Website Aids Credibility
Though the Internet has been around for some time, it’s true that you didn’t always need a website to find your audience or for your audience to find you. It used to be a lot easier to market via direct mailings, Yellow Page ads, and local word-of-mouth. However, today the landscape if very different. Today, customers are much savvier. They have much more choice, and they do their research before making buying decisions. Your website and your social presence are the factors that customers are looking for when they research a company. Not only does it provide the information they are researching to make an educated decision, but having a web presence also shows that you are a stable enterprise, that you have a history and that you'll be around tomorrow if something was to go wrong.
A website helps you build authority and peace of mind in the customer's mind. Without one you're at a significant disadvantage, not only because of the lack of credibility but also because your competitors are probably online. And that leads us onto the second reason why it's important to have a website - visibility.
A Website Aids Visibility
If you are not online, you are as good as invisible to prospects who do not know about you. People are increasingly blind and deaf to traditional forms of advertising. Most of us go online and use search engines to find products and services. When a potential customer goes looking for you online – if they don’t find you they will find your competitor. In short, a business without a website will not be found, simple as that!
With a website, however, not only do you stop being invisible but you become accessible 24x7x365. Potential customers will be able to learn about you and what you have to offer from anywhere in the world while you sleep. This visibility and accessibility lead us nicely onto the next important reason, sales.
A Website Aids Sales
In today's competitive market, it's important to use all the tools at one's disposal to maximise opportunities. A website can dramatically increase the number of sales one is making, either directly by selling and taking payments online or indirectly by generating enquiries. With the benefits of search engine optimisation and pay-per-click advertising, you can target a specific audience or niche with relevant messages that resonate directly with them. You can tweak the settings to make sure the right people are hearing your message at the right time and through analytics you can see what works and what does not. Gone are the days of guessing. With the multitude of tools available online, you can test, iterate and evolve your offering on the fly relatively inexpensively.
The higher the number of relevant people visiting your website the more sales and awareness you build. A website is, therefore, a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action. Your website is your virtual shop-front where people can go to seek out trusted information about your company and engage with you on a more personal level. Use it to build confidence in your brand and to incentivise customers and give them valuable buying information. You can also use it to create another precious sales tool, which is what the next and final point is about, your database.
A Website Aids Building Your Database
Along with the valuable analytics you can collect, there is another opportunity that besides your site may just end up being one of your strongest sales tools - an email list.
Every business should be building a database of customers and/or prospects. If you're not doing it through your website already, you're more than likely doing it somehow else by collecting business cards at reception, manually inputting data into your CRM or adding contacts to your address book. Having a website allows you to do all of that more efficiently because it makes it easier, faster and convenient. Create a site that users can trust and then use it to build your email list. Simply by capturing name and email address with the incentive that you will keep registrars up to date on latest developments, deals, and promotions; will help you create a valuable opt-in database that you can nurture and communicate with going forward. These are people who have told you that they would like to hear from you. Without a website, you may never have come across them.
Credibility, visibility, sales and a database of prospects are invaluable assets a site can provide, and that SME's require to thrive in today's competitive marketplace. Get your site delivering on these important aspects and you'll be in good stead to succeed. Not sure how to get started? Get in touch with us, we'd be glad to help.