By Stefano Maruzzi
South Africans who have not yet invested in a digital home to call their own stand to gain significant benefits from creating a website.
Sure, social media accounts give you a digital presence of sorts. However, a well-established and up-to-date website where you control what people learn about you and your company, and can easily contact your company, is a powerful way to engage customers and inspire confidence.
Here are six reasons why a small business can benefit from creating a website of its own:
1. It’s today’s telephone directory
South Africans spend more than eight hours daily on the internet, mostly to find information in much the same way as they once used the Yellow Pages or their local newspaper. If your business does not show up when a patient is searching for a dentist from their smartphone, you do not exist.
If you have a website of your own, you can track your search engine optimisation (SEO) ranking and actively work to increase your relevance by making small improvements on your website. This will help you rank higher in search results when someone is looking online for a company in your line of business.
2. To build credibility
Customers today expect you to have a website. If you don’t have a website or if your website looks neglected or unprofessional, people may suspect you’re a Luddite or that you’re running your business on a shoestring.
Plus, if people can’t contact you directly through a website or find your phone number easily online, they may simply not bother to find your details. By contrast, an informative, attractive and well-designed website gives your business credibility and makes it accessible. It gives the impression that you are a pro with a well-established business and an eye for detail.
3. It’s a powerful branding tool
If you run a successful local business, let’s say you’re an electrician or an agent for au pairs, you probably generate a fair amount of your business through word of mouth. But if you want to keep growing, you need to inspire people to try your company rather than the other businesses they find online. Your brand is a key reason people will give your company a go.
With your own website, you are in control of your own brand and of the environment in which you interact with customers. You can choose your own domain name (web address) to project your company’s personality and make it easy for customers to find you.
Often the first impression you create online can help convert a visitor into a customer based purely on how professional your website appears. The digital impression you leave online may help win business, even if you are a solo-preneur or merely starting out. Use your website to tell your company’s story using creative content such as using videos and images to showcase your products and services.
4. Be available worldwide 24/7
Your office phones might only be answered eight hours a day and you may have only one shop or office, but your website is accessible to anyone from any part of the world, at any time of the day or night. While you’re sleeping or going to meetings, your website can be working for you, selling your company to customers and giving them a place where they can find any information they need.
5. To interact with customers
Social media is great for interacting with customers, but a website of your own lets you take things to the next level. You can, for example, gather e-mail addresses via your website and get consent from customers to send them personalised marketing e-mails. You can also set up a blog where you can post business updates, how-to guides, professional opinions and other content to start conversations with prospects and existing customers.
6. It’s no longer expensive or difficult to set up a great website
A recent GoDaddy survey of 300 small South African businesses indicates that time, budget and online knowledge still represent significant barriers to getting online for small business owners and side hustlers.
Many of these barriers are often perceptions rather than reality. You can get started with a website of your own for under R200 a month and build it in less than an hour on your smartphone using an easy-to-use solution like GoDaddy Website Builder.
That means there’s no longer a reason to delay building a website for your small business. You can always start small to see how it works out; you may be pleasantly surprised by the difference it makes to your business. – GeekWire.co.za
Stefano Maruzzi is the Vice President for EMEA at GoDaddy.