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If you’re looking for a way to expand your reach and find new customers, it’s time to start thinking seriously about a website for your small business. With 36% of small business shoppers discovering new businesses through online research these days, there’s simply no good reason not to have a presence on the web. However, nearly half of small businesses still don’t. Why is that?
According to research, the majority of those without a website say it’s because a website simply isn’t relevant for their business, or is too expensive for them.
As far as expense goes; of course it’s true that most small business budgets are tight, so it’s therefore hard to justify adding another monthly expense to the ledger. However, there are very affordable ways to get online today – especially when you consider the potential return on your investment.
If what’s keeping you from getting a website for your business is the idea that it’s not relevant for you, we say: websites are for everyone! Sure, it may be easier to imagine what you’d put on the website for a restaurant or retail shop, but that doesn’t mean that other business types won’t also benefit from staking their claim on the web. To illustrate this point, we’ve collected nine business types that people don’t always think would need a website, and why we think they do:
Doctor’s Offices & Dentists
Often, private healthcare providers rely on insurance networks to help new customers find them. And while it may be true that these channels work well to help customers discover businesses like specialist doctors or dentists, people are becoming more and more self-sufficient when it comes to their health. This means that while a potential patient might hear about you from an insurance company, they will want to do their own research on your practice before they book an appointment with you. A welcoming website with your bio, photos of you and your staff, and testimonials from past patients can make all the difference between you and your competitors.
Many estate agents feel that the website of the well-known estate agency they work for is a sufficient online presence — especially if they have a bio on the site. However, there are a few reasons not to leave your online presence in the umbrella brand’s hands. Firstly, you are trusting them to accurately represent what sets you apart from the other agents who work for them. Also, you are limiting your search rankings by not having a site of your own pop up when potential clients search for terms like, ‘Manly’s estate agents’. Finally, consider what would happen if you leave that brand in the future to work with a different team – you will have to start over, earning authority for your new page on a different site.
Electricians or Handymen
While review sites and listing services are a great way for in-home service providers to get discovered, those kinds of listings should really lead the viewer to a site where they can learn more about the person offering the service. When a customer is considering inviting someone into their home, they will feel much more comfortable if that person has a professional, informative website. This is very important because small business consumers report that they are less likely to work with a business if they have a bad impression of its website.
Everyone knows how important reviews can be – we found that 75% of small business shoppers think it’s important to read them before visiting a business. But what if you are in an industry where your customers don’t always want to broadcast that they’ve visited you? While some clients might hesitate to put a review on Yelp about how helpful your services have been for them, they might be open to leaving a testimonial on your website.
When you spend the majority of your day in the great outdoors, the worldwide web is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But the types of advertising landscapers typically use – from magnetic car signs to plastic signs – work best when they direct the viewer to a website where they can take their time to learn more. A great landscaping website should include services, pricing and high-quality images of the beautiful results customers can expect from the company.
Many independent accounting professionals get their start by working with family and friends. And while the taxes and other financial needs of your immediate network might sustain your business at first, you will need a way for others to find you if you want your business to grow in the future. Having a simple, informative accountant’s website is a great way to help new customers discover you.
If you run an car repair shop, a website can be your best friend. Why? Because your customers may assume that your services are more expensive or complicated than they really are. People generally feel very anxious about taking their car to the garage; a website that offers clear pricing, service details, and online estimates is an easy way to earn their trust and loyalty. If you offer car detailing services, a website gives you a chance to show off your handiwork with impressive photos.
For people who draw, paint, work with clay, or otherwise create art in the physical world, a website doesn’t always seem like a logical fit. However, putting photos of your work online is a great way to showcase your work, or even sell a few pieces. Keep a simple business card with your website URL on it with you at all times. You never know when someone will want to see what you offer – or commission a custom piece.
For decades, dry cleaning businesses were able to rely on neighbourhood foot traffic to bring in business. But as new on-demand apps start to gain ground online, it’s critical that your business also shows up in search engine results to compete. If a potential customer would generally prefer a local brick-and-mortar dry cleaner, but they find an on-demand service when they search online, you could lose their business for good.
Especially if you are self-publishing a book, a website can really be key for drumming up publicity around your work. Reporters and bloggers are very busy people with demanding schedules and it can be hard to keep their attention for very long. For this reason, you need to be able to direct them to your website with a link in an email or a URL on a business card. They might not have time to hear your whole pitch at that moment, but giving them a way to learn more in their own time can make all the difference.
If you run one of these business types, then you have a unique opportunity. If you’ve always thought a website was irrelevant for your business, chances are, your competition does too. Give yourself an advantage by getting online first. Our research shows that more than a third of small business shoppers are unlikely to shop with a business that doesn’t have a website. As more and more potential shoppers turn to the web to make purchase decisions, it is increasingly important that they are able to find you there.
About the Author
Sarah Matista is the marketing communications manager at Vistaprint Digital, the digital services division of Vistaprint. Sarah is passionate about helping small business owners tap the power of digital marketing to compete in the marketplace and achieve their goals.