There is a trend nowadays for businesses to use social media alone to promote their brand and not even consider a website. There are many benefits to a website however, and social media sometimes doesn’t cut it. You’d be forgiven for thinking that social media is enough for a company to run with, but there are more reasons that one for you to consider a digital presence beyond social media.
The brilliance of social media is that anyone can create an account on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and start selling their products today. The downside to this is that anyone can create an account on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and start selling their products today. The accessibility and ease of social media leads to a lot of untrustworthy people and companies selling products and services to unsuspecting customers. Of course, that can happen with a website too, but with social media there is no accountability, as an profile can simply be deleted and the seller can get away with minimum backlash, if any. There is a lot more time and money going into a website which gives people a sense that the business is more trustworthy and reliable. By taking further steps to create a website, it shows potential customers that a business is legitimate.
There are also many add-ons and plugins for websites that can be used that are universally trusted, such as payment systems like Paypal. A customer who trusts Paypal is going to be much more likely to complete their purchase; a recent study has shown that Paypal conversion performed on average 82% higher than all other payment types combined. This shows faith and trust in a system, and this is a lot easier to achieve with a website. It adds a lot more gravitas to your business when you have incorporated these kinds of add-ons and customers can have more faith that they will receive their product or service with no hiccups, or hiccups that can be easily resolved.
One stop shop
Having a website gives your customers one place where they can go for all information about your products and services. They can find out everything they need to know about your business, such as contact information, social media channels, a way to sign up to newsletters, current products and back catalogue, company history etc.
Each different social media channel has its restrictions so it is good to have somewhere that they can all direct your customers to. For instance, if your business is a clothing line and your customer wanted to browse the products by size or color, it would be very hard to set this up on Instagram or Facebook, whereas an eCommerce site can easily sort your products this way. Then they will have the ability to buy them straight away, add them to “favorites” or a similar function which allows them to easily find the products at a later date. It is also good if your company provides a service, as you can easily go into more depth about what you offer on a website and display your portfolio more professionally.
Full user experience
Along with the one-stop-shop idea is that a website provides your customer with a full user experience. The customer’s journey might bring them to your website from a search engine result, an ad placed on a different website or through social media posts and ads. Once they are on your website, it is much easier to complete the user experience with full service from arrival to check out. It takes them beyond a simple purchase; they can set up an account which can hold their “favorites”, check their orders, re-order products, collect loyalty points and get recommendations for other things they might be interested in.
For artists and similar professions, a website is a great way to show off a portfolio and body of work. Websites allow a lot more freedom than social media channels and can give the user a more personal, in depth experience with the work. It can even be experiential, with the website itself being a part of the journey the user embarks upon. A website is what you make it, and there are so many ways to create a website which works for you and your customers/clients.
It is important that new and offline customers can find your business on the web. Even if a customer walks past your business everyday, they might not even take note of your existence unless they need your product or service at that very moment. And when they are in need, the chance of them being outside your store right then and there are very low. Instead, they’re more likely to be jumping online and searching for what you offer. As an example, you might be a hair salon in downtown Los Angeles and someone will walk past your business on their frequent shopping trips in the area, sometimes looking in your window but never stopping to find out more as they already have a hairdresser. One day they find out their regular stylist is going on maternity leave and they decide they need to find someone new. After dinner they sit down at their computer and search “hairdresser downtown Los Angeles”. They might’ve vaguely recalled there is a salon where they go shopping on weekends but if they don’t know your name and you don’t have a website (or your website has terrible SEO), you simply won’t be showing up in the search and you’ve missed an opportunity for a new customer.
Social media platforms have search functions as well, but they aren’t going to be as helpful if the customer doesn’t know the name of the company they are looking for. With the same example, that person might go on Instagram and try to do a similar search but there will be a huge mix of results that appear, including hashtags, locations and accounts with words from the search as their actual name/Instagram handle. Search engines also have the functionality of helping a user find the business they’re after by location, so if they’re trying to remember your store’s name and can’t, they might still be able to find you amongst the top search results by looking at the streets they shop on. There are most likely going to be a number of results that show up for businesses like yours, but with a good SEO strategy for your website, it is much more likely that you’ll be higher on the results page.
It is important to be able to analyse consumer behaviour so your business can adapt to consumer behavior and trends. Good analytics can show you where your website traffic is coming from, the different pages that are getting more eyeballs, the conversion rate for your products. This in turn can give you a greater understanding of the customer and give you an idea of how to better utilise your website. It can also give you an idea of what is popular among your products/services and pick out trends. There might also be negative things that are stopping your customers from completing their purchase at the checkout and analytics will help you figure out what is responsible. You can study your website user’s behaviors and use this information to help when you market your site and try to find what will bring in new business. There are a lot of easy plug-ins for analytics, especially on WordPress, that will help your business.