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6 Ways You Miss Out Without a Website

There is a great divide between consumers and small business today. While more than 90 percent of consumers seek information about products and services online, in most states, it's estimated by many that between 50 and 60 percent of small businesses don’t have websites.

The “missing half” of small businesses that don’t have websites are truly missing out. Here are six ways that the lack of a website hurts a business, and how you can improve your small business marketing by establishing a strong Internet presence for your company:

1. Solidify “offline” referrals

Some small businesses think they only need a website if customers find them through search engines or other online mechanisms. Even if you rely entirely on word-of-mouth, a website is paramount to establishing your credibility.

“Referrals are a great source of business, but when someone sends a referral to you, the first thing they do is check the Internet,” says Christopher Ulrich, CEO of the Direct Response Group.

“They do a Web search, and they look for your website and reviews. If they find a bad website—or worse, no website—you are simply passing on the opportunity to do business with that person. Right or wrong, people prejudge companies based on their websites. Even if you have the best small business in America, you will lose business if they cannot visit you on the web.”

2. Forge more personal relationships.

A website allows you to forge a deeper, more intimate relationship with customers. The most clicked-on part of most websites is the “about” page because people want to know who they’re doing business with. A solid website allows you to showcase your company’s vision and your employees’ personalities, building trust and loyalty.

Gary Hennerberg, a direct marketing consultant, says to keep the image you want to portray in mind during your website design and development. For example, a restaurant might be all right with a static brochure or menu-type website, while a landscaper might benefit from a website that features beautiful photographs of their past projects.

3. Build a stronger marketing channel

A website can be integrated into your current small business marketing activities, giving customers a place to come for more information about your products or services. You can use direct mail, Internet advertising, or social media marketing to drive people to your website.

“Having your own website also has unexpected marketing benefits,” says Nick Eubanks, a digital strategist who has been optimizing websites for nearly a decade. “There are opportunities to show up in both search engines and social media websites for terms related to your business, which in turn can lead to new customers and relationships.”

4. Develop a deeper local presence

Some small businesses dismiss the idea of needing a website because they only cater to a locale clientele. The fact is more people than ever are searching for local services and products on the Internet, so any businesses that want to attract customers who live down the street should consider a website as well.

“You’ll hear people say, ‘I’ve been a pool service company forever; all my local business comes through word-of-mouth; and I have a decent flow of customers. I’m happy with the business, and I don’t have a need to grow and expand,’” says Lauren McCabe, a consultant for small and medium-size businesses.

“However, in my local neighborhood, I go on the Web if I need a local provider to get the ants out of my house.” And remember: Your competitors are probably using local Internet marketing, so the customers who aren’t finding you online because you lack a website may well be going to them.

5. Provide better customer service

Your store or office probably closes at least at night, but customers may be searching for information about your goods or services around the clock. The web never shuts down. Future customers can seek you out seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. The web also gives them a convenient way to reach you on their terms—by phone, email, text, or fax. In this do-it-yourself, in-whatever-way-you- want age, a business must allow customers to reach out to them in any way they want.

“People who are tremendously busy won’t find the time to go to your business,” says Lynore M. Abbott, founder of Logical Marketing, LLC. “They will go to someone who has a website where they can do initial analysis on the product/service.”

6. Find yourself “rediscovered”

Web pages are essential if you want to be found by new customers who are outside your geographic area. However, the web can also help an old customer who lives locally come by and re-discover you.

“Someone who used your services some time ago may not remember your contact information—even if they want to use you again,” Abbott says. Finding someone through a web search is a lot easier than digging up an old phone number from memory. So whether you want to gain new customers, gain more business from the ones you already have, or re-establish contact with old customers, a strong web presence should be a key part of your small business marketing.

Build a Site That Builds Your Business

Let YP℠ Marketing Solutions help you establish your online presence with a website that connects with customers. Our full-service website design and development solutions help your business get online fast and stand out from the competition. The service includes the development of a mobile device-optimized version of your website to reach customers wherever—and whenever—they search. Now customers can always find your business information.

The process is simple. You’ll work with a YP marketing consultant to determine what options you would like to include on your business website (including such options as nearly 50 value-added widgets from Facebook, Twitter badges, slideshows, guestbooks, and more); and then collaborate to build a professional, up-and-running website that is accessible on most browsers and on mobile devices. You’ll then get reports on site visitors, page views, page-by-page pathing, traffic sources, devices/browsers used to visit your site, and the geographic locations of visitors (country, state, or city data).

Learn more about ypWebsite℠

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