Can My Business Compete Without A Professional Website?

The benefits of having a website might sound like a broken record to you. In fact, in less than one second, Google can give you 396 million results regarding this topic. But what if you don’t have a website or maybe you have a basic site which your part-timer updates once every blue moon? What impact will this have on your business? This article will give you the answer.

Let’s start with some statistics from a 2016 survey by Clutch on 350 small businesses in the U.S.:

  • If you are operating without a website, your business belongs to the greater half of the small business population (52%).
  • Your website is updated once a year? You have membership in a community of nearly a fourth (23%) of all small businesses.
  • Suppose you have a website. There’s a great chance that you might be among the 97% of small businesses with an ineffective website.
  • Last, but not least, you may identify with 94% of small businesses if your site doesn’t work on mobile devices.

It seems like a business without a website is not such an odd occurrence after all. Should you feel safe and continue ignoring the perks of having a website? Absolutely not.

The First Five Common Assumptions That Often Hurt Small Businesses

Here are 4 good reasons why it’s important to have a professional website.

1. So you don’t lose potential customers

91% of customers have visited a store because of an online experience. (Wanderful Media)

Your website provides a huge boost to your business credibility and customer confidence. Although it is not the only channel to promote your online presence, especially with the rise of social media and reviewing platforms, websites offer the most authentic and adaptable showcase for your value proposition. Nowhere else can you have more control over site structure, site layout and site content.

Consequently, a website can either be your major competitive advantage or major self-destructive factor. Since 91% of customers do their research online, imagine if they can’t find you or come across a messy, outdated representation of your business. This is particularly detrimental to home-based businesses without a physical storefront.

In one way or another, it’s better to have no website at all than a cheap-looking one. Why? It requires more than a plain page to persuade your customer to contact you. A winning website must be attractive, well-written and easy to navigate. According to Forrester, 49% of sites fail to comply with basic usability principles, and 50% of online sales are lost because visitors can’t find content. A positive customer experience is extremely important online, where everything is just a click away. In less than one second, a visitor can decide between you and your competitor. Worst of all, first impressions last. The cost of regaining customer trust is ridiculously higher than a good investment in crafting a well-designed website from the beginning.

A well-crafted website also makes your business more visible and ranks higher with search engines. Web crawlers (from Google.com and Bing.com) would love to see clean code markup and organized content. For starters, it’s always worthwhile to have a qualified web developer build the basics and guide you through the first steps.

Let’s say you pass the introductory round and successfully charm a customer into calling for more information. Your website looks stunning, gets featured in various web design collections and earns a lot of traffic thanks to backlinks. Unfortunately, you mistyped your telephone number, and your investment vanishes into thin air! Don’t laugh over this matter. According to Constant Contact, 50% of small business websites have an inaccurate listing. And just by presenting your phone number correctly, you have a 60% advantage over local business websites without a phone number (BIA Kelsey).


2. So you don’t lose current customers

It’s often trickier to persuade customers to stay than to attract them at first.

While you are still busy considering whether a website is necessary or not, many competitors have already had their website up and running. What benefits can customers earn from these competitors?

  • Up-to-date information
    Long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are built on a regular exchange of information. Whenever a new product or new service comes out, your website is the preferred channel for announcements due to its flexible nature. Site administrators can completely redesign page layouts to highlight new concepts, which is almost impossible on social network sites and costly at physical stores. Basically, a website simulates an in-store shopping experience for customers without forcing them to leave their chairs. If you don’t have a website, don’t blame your customers for shifting to other businesses that care more about their comfort.
  • Around-the-clock availability
    Competing is about having the right offer, in the right place, at the right time. Having a professional website is a win-win solution for both business owners and customers. A well-planned, informative and interactive website is equivalent to a 24/7 store without weekends or holidays. With an internet-connected device, customers can educate themselves before seeking help at physical stores, thus saving time and resources for both parties.
  • Better experience
    40% of mobile consumers have gone to a competitor’s website after a bad mobile web experience. (The Google Mobile Playbook)
    But…
    Only 25% of small businesses know how to create a mobile-optimized website (Constant Contact)
    Don’t relax too soon. You still have 75% of small businesses to outplay. Among those, we must include professionally designed websites, which are not only good-looking but are also optimized across devices. With the help of content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal or Magento, it’s increasingly feasible and affordable to build a mobile-friendly website. These are open-source platforms, meaning one can literally create any type of website within a reasonable budget. There’s no reason for you to deny such readily available resources.


3. So your investment will promote greater success and profits

In its 2016 survey on Small Business Websites, Clutch also discovered reasons why companies did not have websites. Only 10% of business owners blamed it on lack of technical knowledge; 11% stated that their websites were under maintenance; and 12% preferred social media profiles to websites. The two major barriers were perceived irrelevance to the business proposition and estimated cost, at 32% and 30%, respectively.

First, it’s widely accepted among agencies that in one way or another, websites are relevant across businesses and industries despite required costs and complexity. Given that 70 percent of U.S. households now use the internet when shopping locally for products and services (The Kelsey Group & ConStat), if you want customers, it’s fundamental to have official information online. Considering your vision, capability and resources, you can either rely on a third-party platform (e.g. Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) or build your own website, or use both.

Concerning cost, the availability of DIY (do it yourself) website builders emphasizes that building a website is much more affordable and profitable than competing without one. Your website is your online marketing presence. Like a printed ad, a website can display photos, product data and service information. Like a TV ad, your offerings can feature video clips. Like live radio, customers can interact, leave comments or use public review outlets. All these channels are combined at a reasonable expense compared with an ongoing mass media ad. With genuine search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) strategies, a website can perfectly captivate your target audiences and effectively convert clicks into sales.

To level up in competition, investing in a professional web design is a wise move. The Small Business Administration (SBA) claims an average discrepancy of $1.07 million (about 39% more revenue per year) between a small business with a quality website design and its counterpart. How is this possible? With the help of an experienced website designer and developer, your site will be maximized in terms of design, function and stability. The time previously spent on site construction and maintenance can be saved for improving your portfolio, which is directly related to revenue generation.


4. So your website can be a top-performer for your company

Remember when stores used calculators, notebooks and pens instead of cash registers to record sales? Such machines might cost a month or two of revenue, but the benefits they offer are undeniable. The same goes for a website.

Embedding tracking tools like Google Analytics into your website provides great insights on the performance of your business. Detailed reports on the productivity of your social engagement (i.e. activities on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.), impact of mobile browsing, conversion rate of your web store (i.e. how many customers actually clicked to buy), your content performance and many more are easily generated and exported. Such reliable and objective statistics normally come at considerable expense and effort.

Your website can also be structured to manage customer relationships. Incorporating feedback pages, creating online surveys, enabling visitor comments and reviews are several suggestions to better interact with your customers. The collected information also serves as a guideline or framework for future marketing activities.

To conclude, without a well-constructed and regularly updated website, your business is already behind the competition. The consequences are immeasurable: your current and potential customer bases steadily decrease; intangible expenses incur and management is inefficient. Looking conversely at the statistics of the Clutch survey at the beginning of this article, it’s apparent how a professional business website can boost your success.

  • Just by having one, you are likely to have an advantage over 52% of small businesses.
  • By updating it once a week, you might beat nearly a fourth of them.
  • Last, but not least, by having a professional webmaster design an effective, mobile-friendly website, your chance of winning customer preferences reaches nearly 100%.

So, what are you waiting for?


Phong T. Nguyen

BA from St. Olaf College
MBA from University of St. Thomas
SEO from "the School of Hard Knocks."