is the small business website an obsolete tool?

Is the Small Business Website an Obsolete Tool?

We live in a digital age, and consumers are always flocking to the internet to research services, products, entertainment, and more. For many years, having a website was considered the pinnacle of digital marketing. Today, social media, mobile applications, and other platforms offer business owners an alternative way to showcase their business online. That begs the question, is having a small business website unnecessary? 

We’ve looked at the statistics and the alternatives. If you considered having a small business website but don’t really see the value in modern marketing, you’re in the right place. Let’s explore your options and find out if you need to build a website for your business.


Contents


Alternative tools to establish a digital presence

There are several ways to market your business online. However, are these tools a better alternative to a well-built, optimised small business website? Let’s look at two of the top alternative methods to target your digital audience.

Mobile applications

There are over 6.4 billion smartphone users globally. That means almost every person on earth has easy and instant access to information. In fact, 69% of people use their smartphones to look up products or services before they make a purchase. Additionally, 54.8% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. 

What does that mean?

The statistics clearly show that people prefer to use their phones when looking for information or shopping for products. Consequently, you might think it’s better to develop a mobile application rather than build a website. It’s a lot less invasive than other marketing activities, opens up more branding opportunities, and allows for more direct and personal interactions. Perfect, right?

First, you’ll need to cover the extremely expensive costs of developing and hosting an app. You’ll also need to keep it updated and compliant with the rules of your chosen app store. But there’s another challenge – how will you get users to download your app?

Not only is developing an app expensive, but convincing people to download it will be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.

You may just need to build a website to promote your app. Should you opt for a small business website instead? Depending on your needs and audience, it may be the better, less expensive, and more effective option, particularly if you design according to mobile-first principles.

Social media and Google My Business

You might think that social media and a Google My Business listing can serve the same purpose as a website. Not only can you fill these profiles with information, photos, and even articles, but users can also find you if they search online.

HOSTAFRICA Google My Business panel
Our Google My Business panel

While this may be enough, you also have little control over the information. Google is constantly changing its algorithm and services. Similarly, Facebook may choose to change its terms at any time.

With a small business website, you have complete control over the information displayed and what users can access. More importantly, statistics show that over 25% of users with purchase intent choose to visit a website to take the final steps – higher than any other social media platform.

If your goal is to lead users through a sales funnel, your goal should be to build a website that’s optimised to fulfil that goal.


Why having a small business website is still effective

We all know that websites have certain benefits. They’re a cost-effective way to reach your audience, and having one, particularly if you’re a small business, lends credibility to your brand. In fact, many users expect reputable businesses to have one. However, there are a few other key benefits to having a website.

Control over information

First, when you build a website, you have complete control over the information you share with consumers. You can choose to share details about your services, products, inventory, prices, and company history, or even display case studies and customer testimonials. If you optimise this data correctly, it’ll also make your website more appealing to search engines and, in turn, to consumers.

Capture your own data

For a long time, digital data capture has depended on third-party cookies, particularly when it comes to advertising. However, Google Chrome – the most popular browser in the world – will soon be phasing out these cookies, joining several other popular browsers already doing so. Now, first-party data has become more valuable than ever.

Additionally, by using analytics on your small business website, you can learn about your customers, track the performance of campaigns, and gain valuable insights to make your marketing strategies more effective.

Google Analytics reports dashboard
Google Analytics website reports dashboard

Show expertise

Customers need to know and trust that your business can truly provide them with the best products or services. You can create and share valuable content on your small business website, making it easier for users to find you if you follow SEO best practices. More importantly, these articles can showcase your expertise and convince consumers that you’re the top choice.


Conclusion

Digital consumers are becoming more prevalent every day. People rarely buy products before researching them online, and some prefer placing an order or corresponding with a business without ever actually seeing another human being. It’s clear that we’re still living in a digital-first era, more now than ever before, due to the circumstances of the last few years.

So, is having a small business website an obsolete strategy? That depends on you, your business, and your audience. If you build a website, you control the narrative, the journey, and the funnel that turns a digital consumer into a paying client.

In short, there may be other tools available to complement your website. However, as a marketing, sales, and conversion tool, websites are still a key component of any well-rounded digital strategy.


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