Probably the hardest thing for folks to figure out is why they need a website.
They're aware that having an online presence is an essential part of marketing (and advertising) their business, but they don't really know what a website can do for them beyond helping them be found in Google searches.
Being found in Google is important, sure! But what happens after people click through to your website?
Before you create a website for your business, it's important to understand what business goals you hope to achieve with that website. This is for two reasons: to help determine what sort of website design and content you need, and to give you criteria to use to determine if your website is doing its job. Not sure about all that? A professional web designer can help you figure out your goals and how to determine if your website is doing the job you set it up to do. But to get you started, here are a few of the top reasons why I create websites for folks.
Note: for the sake of writing, I'm using customer and client interchangeably here. Just insert the term that applies to your sort of business.
These days, even if someone has been given a personal recommendation for a company or service, they still do a bit of research to find out more about the company before deciding if the business is what they're looking for. This is especially true in markets where the competition is higher — say, in major cities, or if you're selling a product that a lot of other businesses already sell. Having a website can help show what you have to offer, what makes your business unique, and why people should hire your business (or purchase your product) instead of another. This is absolutely essential when designing your website.
Promoting New Services
It might seem obvious that a website is used to promote your business. But what you may not have considered is you can create a whole new website, or a whole sub-section of your website, dedicated to a new product or service you are launching.
A personal example from when I was a practicing Massage Therapist was my creation of a prenatal website, focusing on pregnancy and infant massage. It was an area I had a lot of passion for (still do!) and I wanted to increase the number of pregnancy and infant massage bookings I got. I purchased a whole new domain name (address), designed a whole new website, and even set up Google Ads to help promote the fact that I was focusing on this area. And you know what? It worked. I started getting more calls from pregnant women or new parents wanting to book in for massages or get an infant massage lesson. Meanwhile, I had still maintained my regular massage website, and was still getting referrals and bookings through that.
If you sell any sort of product, it's usually wise to consider doing online sales. After all, these days many people make major purchases online, especially for holiday shopping — we all want to beat the lines, after all!
So, maybe you're just starting out with online sales. Maybe you want to increase the number of sales you get. In either case, you can definitely design your website to focus on getting folks to make purchases from you online. Additionally, if you have a physical business location, be it a shop, consignment at other stores, farmers markets or art/craft shows, you can still make this option clearly available while also bringing in online sales. If done well, it's really a win-win situation, as you've given people more than one way to buy things from you!
Find New Business
One of the things any seasoned business owner will tell you is you need to always be thinking about your customer base. Who are your customers? Why do they continue to use your services or make purchases from you? And if business starts to slow down, why is that?
Most businesses want to be drawing in new customers all the time. Often, this means doing marketing to the specific group(s) of people that use your services the most. Your website should be designed to help those people find your business and learn why they should hire you or purchase from you (as mentioned in the first section).
But, what if you want to expand to a new potential group of customers?
For example, maybe you're taking over an older business that had great success back before the internet took the world by storm — lots of walk-by traffic and word-of-mouth referrals. But, these days business has slowed, because there are more competitors and you don't have an online presence at all (except maybe for directory listing websites, which just show your phone number and address anyway). The older customer base is mostly gone, so you want to reach out to a whole new generation. This is where a website can help you a lot; it can show how your business has transformed for modern times and what you have to offer. Given that many in their 20s and 30s really don't like using the phone, it's just good business to have a solid website (and email, that you check and reply to) if you want to market to that age group.
Small business owners and fellow web design and marketing folks: anything to add to this list?