A 2015 Lloyds bank research report found that 47% of UK SMEs don’t have a website. Common reasons cited were my trade doesn’t use them, it costs too much, I don’t have the time and/or I don’t know how. In 2016 there were 2.5 million UK SMEs of which 2.3 million are micro-businesses employing less than 5 people.
You probably think I’m mad trying to address this issue in my blog! But don’t assume that, because an SME doesn’t have a website, the owner doesn’t use the internet. Nearly 88% of adults (45.9 million) in the UK have used the internet in the last 3 months. Within this group, the figure rises to 99% for those aged between 18-24.
Here are 10 reasons SMEs should invest in a website to sustain and grow their business.
1. The 24 x 7 marketing medium
Your existing customers know you through experience, but how are you recruiting new customers? All of your customers use the internet daily for a variety of reasons. A website is a multi-purpose, marketing platform showcasing your business 24x7x365 days a year.
2. Enable prospective customers to find you
So what if I don’t know anyone who knows you, but I live locally and I need your business service now? I grab my smartphone and I search for your trade or service near me. Would I find you if you don’t have a locally optimised website?
3. A website will add value to your business
Have you heard the expression: “Never judge a book by its cover”? Well we do and it is human nature to make value judgements. You can directly influence value judgements with a good website. And that includes positively influencing your suppliers, your bank manager as well as other business associates and customers.
4. Lower your business costs
That’s right. You can replace a physical location for your business with a virtual presence. No rent charges, just an annual web hosting fee. This can greatly cut the setup and recurrent costs of your business. You can also trade globally while still operating locally. Having a website will reduce your overall marketing costs.
5. Let your customers work for you
If you garner good reviews from your customers you can post them online. A recommendation is your most valuable marketing asset and your website enables you to extend the power and reach of personal recommendation.
6. Join up your social networks
Almost all websites now come with preloaded social media icons that enable you to connect your website and social media networks. Your website has become a powerful tool to integrate all of your online activities with the potential to grow the business with digital marketing.
7. Better customer communication
You can update your customers with your special offers, promotions, new products and services. The website can offer potential customers various options for contacting. You can monitor all of these from your own smartphone meaning you need never miss potential new business.
8. Email marketing
With your own website, you can have your own email. What’s more, you can capture all your customers’ email contacts and then use your database to further promote your business through email marketing. It’s easier and more cost effective to sell more to existing customers than it is to generate new customers.
9. Competitor advantage
So we know that 48% of other SMEs don’t have a website. Get one and instantly you have a competitive advantage! Develop and utilize your website effectively and you can even run rings around your bigger competitors.
10. A website is easy to build
You don’t need to have any technical knowledge to build your own website as most domain sites like GoDaddy and 123-reg.co.uk provide simple cost-effective, pre-designed sites. These static websites can be up and running in as little as one hour. Alternatively, you can build a larger portfolio site using WordPress which comes with industry-specific themes or templates.
Finally, if you can’t afford the time, hire a good website designer.