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Why Businesses Need Website

If you have a successful word-of-mouth business, you may be inclined to believe you don’t need a website, much less, a strong digital presence. In reality, regardless of the stage or the level of success you may be experiencing, all businesses, no matter the industry, needs a website.

A high 46% of small businesses don’t have a website and a majority of them justify the lack of having one to it not being relevant or too expensive. And although this may have been true a decade or two ago, it is definitely not the reality today. In fact, the number of internet users has increased from 738 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion in 2015! As of June, 2017, that number has risen to 3.8 billion, roughly half of the world population. With almost 4 billion users on the world wide web, not having a website is business suicide.

Still think a website not relevant for your business?

Eighty-three percent (83.7%) of the US population goes online regularly each year, mainly from mobile devices. In fact, over 40 million internet users in the US will go online through a mobile device this year and that number is projected to increase to 52.3 million by 2021. Yet, surprisingly, a lot of small businesses don’t have a mobile-friendly website. Considering the majority of users begin their search on a mobile device, it’s imperative every small business has an aesthetic and professional website that renders well on all devices (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc).

There are ten fundamental reasons why every small business needs a website. Seeking the technical guidance from an experienced Sacramento website design company is the best first step in getting your digital presence established.

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Reason #1 – A Website Saves You Money

You probably don’t currently have a professional website because you think you can’t afford it or you can’t justify hiring any Sacramento web designers, but in long run, having a website can ultimately save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars typically spent on other marketing channels. Companies spend millions of dollars on brochures, fliers and pamphlets but with a website, you can skip that entirely! Digitizing all your traditional advertising ammunition makes it accessible to everyone, especially those that would not have been able to access any of the physical materials.

Even if you mainly rely on word of mouth and referrals, people will still want to check you out! The average consumer is much more savvy today and will do research before committing to purchasing your goods or services. Word of mouth marketing itself has become digitized. In fact, 68% of people trust online opinions of other customers. Adding reviews and testimonials to your page can boost conversions without manual effort on your end.

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Reason #2 – Get More Customers

You want to grow your business, don’t you? Everybody wants to make more money but very few know how to do it. Within the last 12 months, 90% of the 2.4 billion internet users have purchased something or contacted a business online. If you don’t have a website, you’re missing out on potential customers! Regardless of the industry you’re in, a website is a key tool in selling and promoting your products or services. It provides all the information your customers need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days out of the year.

Think of your website as a digital brochure

Making it easy to update information instantaneously at zero cost. And because your website is accessible all the time, you could, in theory and if implemented well, be making money while you sleep!

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Reason #3 – A Website Saves You Time

Running a business is no easy feat. To be successful, you have to put a lot of hard work and a lot of time on honing your products and services. Although there’s no way to recapture lost times, you could gain future time to spend with loved ones, and a website is the optimal way. Talking to existing and potential future customers not only takes a significant amount of time, but also requires a lot of unnecessarily redundant work. Whether you’re providing information to customers on the phone, via email or face-to-face, having a digital catalog, removes the need to repeat the same information over and over again.

Hiring skilled web designers in Sacramento who understand the psychology of user behavior can make all the difference in your business. Implementing an FAQ page, reviews, product or service descriptions, and about pages are some of the more obvious pages to include but there are many other ways in which you could provide information that connects with the customer even deeper. Some of these include videos, blogs and social media marketing.

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Reason #4 – It Improves Customer Service

As mentioned above, an FAQ page can greatly reduce the amount of time spent talking to customers directly but it also establishes credibility and serves as a great tool to support your customers. It should be noted that customers will still have reasons to contact you directly and a website is a great tool to connect you with them. Having something like a ticketing system or contact form is one of the most efficient ways for users to contact you without leaving the website.

In our rapidly growing world of technological advancements, chatbots have become a very popular tool for streamlining customer service. Depending on your business, this may be a good alternative as it could reduce any customer support overhead you currently have. Contact an experienced Sacramento web design company to learn if this the best tool for your business.

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Reason #5 – A Website Gives You and Your Business Credibility

Everyone expects a business to have a website. Without a website, you don’t have a business. Are you a technological luddite? Are you a cheapskate that can’t find it in your budget? Or have you simply not prioritized this crucial factor for your business? Regardless, none of these things are what you want your customers to think of your business.

Not being able to show up in search results or the internet in general is the fastest way to lose credibility as a business. It makes you look dated and inept. But most importantly, it makes you look untrustworthy, which you don’t want as a business. Small businesses especially benefit from having a website – 70% of US households use the internet when shopping locally. And because Google ranks results according to location, you need to make sure to apply local SEO. For example, a Sacramento website design should include variations of location keywords:

  • Sacramento, CA
  • Roseville, California
  • Folsom, CA
  • NorCal
  • Northern California
  • etc

But it’s also important to know that it’s not enough to just have a website. Having a bad website is worse than having no website at all because it reaffirms the above questions. Your website is a direct reflection of your business. So if it looks bad, your business looks bad. There is no excuse for your website to look unprofessional or sloppy, especially when there are many tools at your disposal. Whether you use a template from Shopify, BigCommerce, other website platforms or hire from some of the best Sacramento web design firms, you need a clean, professional, and up-to-date website.

Up-to-date being a key component. You don’t necessarily need to update your website every day, but if it looks out of date, take it down. This also means if you only have one blog post from 2014, take it down. You lose credibility if you technically have a blog but only a few posts.

So what makes a website look good?

The latter half of this article is aimed at tackling this question and the answer varies depending on your industry. For example, tour operators need an online ticketing and booking system but you can’t just throw it on your website anywhere. Applying the psychology of a user’s’ path to purchase is pivotal in determining the design. You want more ticket sales so your website design should focus on the elements that 1) convinces people your tours and activities are better than your competitors and 2) makes it easy for people to purchase tickets. That includes things such as: photos, reviews, clear call to action buttons and a seamless navigation among others.

If you own a law firm in northern California, you might want a Sacramento web site design that leverages client testimonials, valuable content and case studies that showcase your results. If you are a restaurant owner, you should leverage your calendar of events, photos of both your food and establishment and you must be on social media.

Regardless of the industry, all businesses must have a professional, high-performing, polished looking website that functions well, offers easy navigation and overall, provides an engaging experience. It’s not easy, which is why hiring a website designer in Sacramento CA is your best first step in digital dominance.

Take a look at the before and after’s. There is a clear difference between the two.

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Reason #6 – A Website Expands Your Reach

Whatever products or services you offer, having a website means anyone from any place in the world can purchase it. If you’re a retailer especially, you must be selling you products online because in 2015, US e-commerce spending was $341.7 billion and is projected to over $684 billion by 2020. But even if you are not selling a product, a virtual store is still ideal to highlight your services. Consumerism has drastically changed and window shopping is no longer restricted to physically strolling down Main Street. Because it takes on average 7-8 touchpoints before a lead is converted to a sale, having a website and implementing analytics, gives you the means to re-target and re-market to interested prospects.

Going direct to consumer is one of the best value proposition a website offers. Understanding your target audience is key to implementing a successful direct to consumer strategy but not all retailers know how to navigate these digital complexities. And because a user’s path to purchase is even more complex, it’s not enough to just throw your products on a Shopify website and think that will work. Hiring a Sacramento web design company is the best thing you can do to kick up your business to the next level.

Nine out of 10 consumers rely on the internet to find local goods and services. But because there are 2.5 billion people using the internet, there is nothing stopping someone from all the way across the world from discovering your products or services, unless of course, you don’t have a website at all.

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Reason #7 – A Website is a Platform To Show Off

Passion, hard work and a unique value proposition is the core root of every small business. Having a website enables you to show off all the work you’ve put in. An image gallery of your products or portfolio of your services is the best way to show your goods and convince potential customers into clients. But the number one conversion tool is testimonials. If people are raving about your business, products or services, you deserve it and should capitalize on it.

But showcasing your goods and services is not the only way to show off. Blogs and other content is a fantastic tool, and more importantly, a free tool, that can reap massive success. For example, Casey Neistat, the co-founder of beme and YouTube sensation, built his company by first building an audience. Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt, acquired massive users through blogging first.

Your products or services are not the only ways you can provide value. Depending on your business specifically, there are many other channels you can leverage to build a following and grow your business.

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Reason #8 – A Website Enables You to Outcompete Your Competitors

A shocking 46% of small businesses don’t have a website. For the 54% that do, it’s clear they have a tremendous competitive advantage in getting discovered. This is said even about those businesses that don’t implement any SEO strategies or social media marketing. So having a website levels the playing field, enabling users to conduct their research and determine which product or service is best. Applying other tactics, through the help of a web design company in Sacramento, you can level up your competitive advantage tremendously.

Although budget and projects scope vary, there is no real difference in appearance between a Fortune 500 company and a small business. As long as your website is professional, nobody necessarily has to know between a team of 300 or a team of 3. That’s why it’s strongly encouraged to conduct web design in Sacramento with experts who act as an extension of your business.

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Reason #9 – A Website Helps Expand Your Marketing & Advertising Efforts

Chances are, if you don’t have a website, you’re already not having a solid marketing or advertising strategy. But if you’ve relied on other listings such as Facebook, Yellow Pages, Yelp, and other local directories, you’re already advertising one way. If you’re advertising in more archaic ways such as billboards, commercials and expensive listings, you’re doing yourself a huge disfavor as a website can accomplish much more for a fraction of the cost.

But aside from serving as a digital billboard, it also acts as a great companion to other marketing efforts. Marketing and advertising campaigns are only limited by your imaginations but the first step is to establish the goal for the campaign. For example, if you’re a retailer and want to get more foot traffic in your store, you can implement an ad campaign to do such. Such campaigns can include split A/B testing of different landing pages that encourages shoppers to physically come into the store and mentioning the ad. Harnessing digital power to expand brick and mortar efforts is something many retailers and small businesses neglect in doing. These types of campaigns take very specific skill which is why it’s always best to contact Sacramento web design companies who specialize in growth hacking and business development.

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Reason #10 – Data, data, data

Like the accountant that handles your finances, having experienced Sacramento website design companies by your side is critical. Data and analytics is not the most glamorous part of running a business, but it is one of the more common reasons for businesses to fail or not perform as had hoped. Every successful business must adopt an agile strategy – constantly testing what works and what doesn’t and focusing on the results. By measuring and monitoring your search performance and web site performance, you can make smarter marketing decisions, and inherently smarter business decisions.

Data shouldn’t be limited to just web traffic, ecommerce sales or SEO growth. In fact, having a website arms you with tools to collect other forms of data. For example, if you’re an attorney, implementing a popup as a user is about to leave your site is a fantastic way to get emails. These warm leads can then be baked into further marketing initiatives. Or let’s say you’re a tour operator and wanting to expand your tour offerings or locations but not sure what to prioritize. You could conduct online surveys directly from your website while also collecting contact information. This type of data is not just insightful for your business initiatives but also grows your audience.

One important thing to keep in mind is that it takes time to produce results. You should never fully judge a Sacramento web design and online marketing campaign for at least 3-7 months or until enough reiterations reap desired benefits since ongoing adjustments are required for maximum results based upon data collected and feedback.

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But is having just any website enough?
What Your Website Should Include: Websites are more than just a digital brochure or representation of your business. It’s the first interaction your customers have with you. Think of it as a preliminary interview for a new job. There are many different elements that separate a great website from a mediocre website.

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Element #1 – The Homepage

The first begins with the homepage. Your homepage is a virtual entrance door and responsible for garnering a majority of your web traffic, but many small businesses fail at optimizing it. Because it usually gets a bulk of a site’s traffic, it needs to be designed and optimized for all audiences and all origins. Some of the most important elements your homepage needs are:

  • Clear Value Proposition via a Header – what is your website offering?
  • Sub-header serving as additional information – a brief description that tells what you do, who it’s for and why they should use you over your competitors.
  • Intuitive Navigation – your navigation should be easy for a first-time visitor. It’s the place to display the menu, allowing visitors to know exactly where they can find the information they need without being confused or frustrated. It should also be created with the typical behavior of your buyers. If you offer an abundant amount of products for sale, make sure it’s easy for users to find it!
  • Call to Action Buttons – your visitors landed on your website for a reason! Make sure you provide an appropriate number of call to actions in prominent areas to get the user to do what you want them to do. As web designers in Sacramento, we recommend having 2-3 call-to-action (CTA’s) above the fold.
  • Images – most people are visual with a short attention span. Because “a picture is worth a thousand of words”, you should leverage images to convey emotion and evoke action.
  • Social Media – social media is a huge factor in a business’ success. And because it typically takes 7-8 touchpoints to convert a lead into a sale, you want people to follow you and engage on all channels. Make sure your social media buttons are in the header and footer and if you’re just beginning to navigate the social media realm, consider getting a web designer in Sacramento or only focus on one social media platform and master that before expanding.
  • Client Testimonials – testimonials and reviews are powerful indicators of trust. In fact, 79% of consumers trust online reviews and testimonials as much as recommendations from peers. Social proof makes your business not only look more credible, but sells on your behalf. Putting a name and a face to someone who has already tested and used your goods or services is a powerful conversion tool.
  • Content – adding fresh new content is great for keeping your visitors coming back but is also loved by social search engines. In fact, Google uses content length as a key factor in determining your rank. There isn’t really an ideal length, but the more the better. As Google puts it, “the amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.

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Element #2 Make it Easy For Visitors to Contact You

Even if you’ve done your due diligence and have gone above and beyond in providing enough content on your site (product/goods descriptions, FAQ’s, etc) to give all the information your visitors need, they will inevitably still need to talk to you. Don’t make it difficult for them to do so. It’s not enough to just put your email and phone number in small font at the bottom of the page in hopes no one will contact you. Your contact information needs to be displayed prominently throughout your pages, navigation and footer.

Your footer should include a mailing address, email address and phone number. Even if you have a contact form, it’s best to provide a direct email as well. Not only does it make it easy for someone to get a hold of you if they need to, it also adds validation to your business legitimacy. If you’re worried about being inundated with phone calls all day, or currently experience such a pain point, you could implement additional technologies, such as chat bots, to automate the process. This does require additional development work, but having undergone a web design in Sacramento, a developer can explain how the process is done.

It’s also important to keep in mind that this extends to all digital channels you use, including social media. As consumerism shifts, being successful relies on constant adaptation to user’s behavior and social media’s role in your business serves two main functions. The first, it’s a platform to build your brand and reputation. The second, it serves as a two-way channel between you and your customers.

Social media implies you be “socially” involved. And because different social media platforms cater to different demographics, it’s critical you understand your customer. For example, if you’re a clothing brand, your main social platforms will mostly be Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. These tools connects you directly to your customers, providing personal and proactive engagement. Being proactive is a strategy most small businesses ignore. And at times, when there are reactive emergencies, it’s crucial you do not go radio silent. Do not ignore your customers when they are demanding your attention.

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Element #3 Be Secure

Until recently, only e-commerce websites or websites that took credit cards required a secure website. However, with the increase in “hacking” incidents of identity theft, password theft, malware installations and at times, ransomware, search engines, especially Google, strongly favor and emphasize the importance of a secure and safe website for users. Regardless of your industry, website security is a best practice for all businesses who want to optimize their search engine performance, establish trust with visitors and maintain a professional presence.

For the sake of not getting too technical, website security entails utilizing SSL (Secure Socket Layer), a standard technology that establishes an encrypted connection between a web server and a browser. You can identify a secure website if the URL is prefixed with an “HTTPS” rather than the normal, “HTTP” and if there is a greed padlock in the bar.

Without the SSL certificate, any information that a visitor submits on a website (or conversely, any information you as a business receive from your website), is sent as plain text and can therefore be viewed if an attacker is able to intercept the information. That means, even if you aren’t handling any credit card transactions, any personal information a user submits on a contact form is subject to theft. You may think that, because you’re a small business, the likelihood of such an attack is low. In reality, hacks come in all sizes, and a lot of hackers prefer targeting smaller businesses – a Government Security Breaches Survey indicated that nearly three-quarters (74%) of small organizations reported a security breach in 2015.

As mentioned throughout this site, your website is a digital representation of your business. Users are expecting a secure website as it deems your trustworthy. Moreover, not having a secure site affects your ranking factor. Google has mentioned the security of your website will affect how you rank on search results.

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Element #4 Fresh New Content

Having a website is useless if it’s not constantly being updated for two main reasons. The first is it affects how you rank on search results. You should consider your website like another employee of your business – a living, breathing, and evolving entity on the internet. In fact, a static website without any changes, can be considered “dead” and therefore irrelevant to searches.

Search engines work through bots called “crawlers” or “spiders” that crawl the web and analyze and index new and updated information. The freshness score of your page matters greatly in Google’s algorithm. When Googlebot, Google’s “crawler”, first index’s one of your web page, it is given a freshness score, which decays over time. Without constantly updating your web pages, in due time, your score drops and you will see less and less traffic.

The second reason is building a trusting and lasting relationship with your visitors. Have you ever gone to a website and seen a Copyright of 2014 in the footer and wonder if they’re still in business? Not updating such minor elements or keeping up with latest trends lowers your credibility. By updating your content and building new content, your visitors not only trust you but have incentive to come back and visit your page again. If you’re an ecommerce business, updating your product offerings and description is a key way to get users to come back. If your business offers services instead, building out a blog is a fantastic strategy to get visitors to frequent you often.

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Element #5 Additional Tools Depending on Industry

Depending on your industry, other technological “features” should be implemented into your website. For example, if you’re a tour operator you must invest in an online booking system. Regardless of your size, an online booking system ensures your business is open 24/7. There are many different options for you. For instance, if you get a website design in Sacramento, you can have a custom made solution specifically tailored to your needs. Alternatively, there are many 3rd party services that offer myriad solutions. Your customer’s path to purchase is pretty complex, filled with behavioral and psychological components. That in mind, it’s important as a tour operator, to not make the process even more complicated. Make sure the seamless path to purchase includes idiot-proof calendars, clear pricing, and an easy checkout.

If you’re a fashion designer or a clothing brand, you have to invest in an e-commerce platform. There are many platforms that could serve as a solution but the important things to keep in mind when selecting your best option are:

Customization – how easy is it to customize and change the design layout?
Payment forms – do they accept all forms of payment including major credit cards and PayPal?
Support – do they offer 24/7 support for you, as a business owner, to contact them whenever you need?

If not, your best option is to speak to an experienced web designer in Sacramento who can provide the best solution for you.

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What Your Website Should NOT Have

Now that you know the elements of a good website, there are a couple of things to emphasize that should NOT be on your website.

  • Flash animation, moving text, fancy cursors or music – These things may seem nice and “fancy” but hurts your business in a few ways. It’s annoying to most if not all visitors, slows down your loading time which is frustrating for most if not all users, and in general, is completely unnecessary. It should go without saying that you should never use Flash. Google’s algorithm does not crawl or index Flash content because it’s fundamentally different from HTML.
  • Post Images Without ALT Tags or Text Captions – We’ve stressed how important images are from a buyer’s perspective and psychological behavior. However, without optimizing them with ALT tags or captions, you’re hurting your SEO. Because search engines cannot read images, adding tags and captions is a way to tell the crawler what this content is. The more images you have, the more tags you can add, helping your overall ranking.
  • Dead Links – It’s extremely frustrating for a visitor to be lead down a dead link. Not to mention, it doesn’t really help your business to lead a visitor down a dead end, especially if that link is another page of yours. Check your links frequently to make sure they are still working and update accordingly.
  • Crowded Bells & Whistles – There are so many widgets and forms you can add to your homepage it’s often overwhelming to determine which ones to add. The number one rule to follow: less is always more. Keep it simple, modern and easy. If it’s too complicated, you’ll lose your visitor. Even if you deem something as “simple” or “bland” the likelihood of a visitor staying on something they can navigate through versus one that has too much going on is much higher.

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Having a website is an absolute must for all businesses – small and large alike. With over 80% of the US population accessing the internet on a regular basis, having a digital presence is critical but mastering the digital world is complex. Hiring a firm that does web design in Sacramento CA can make a huge difference in your success. To quickly summarize, the 10 main reasons you need a website is:

  • It saves you money
  • It gets you more customers
  • It saves you time
  • It improves customer service
  • It gives you and your business credibility
  • It expands your reach
  • It shows off your goods or services
  • It levels the playing field
  • It enhances your marketing and advertising
  • It provides invaluable data insights

So what’s your reason for you not having a website? We constantly hear from time to time excuses like:

  • “Word of mouth is my main source of business”
  • “I’ve been crazy busy and haven’t gotten around to it”
  • “We have a waiting list so a website isn’t a priority”
  • “The phone’s won’t stop ringing! I don’t have the time”

As this article has explained, such excuses as the above are false realities. It’s time to suffocate excuses and get started on growing your business.

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What should I do next?

Contact a Sacramento website design company immediately! We will work with you to establish KPI’s (key performance indicators) to track and measure the success of your strategy and business in general. We begin by understanding the current state of your business and your long term, as well as shorter term, business goals. From there, we reverse engineer a strategy and get you established as a market dominator.