Home > Technology > Are websites worth it?

Are websites worth it?

I know this sounds naive but is it worth the time, money, and hassle to build a website if you are a small business owner and you don't sell a product/service over the Internet? - by WobblyBox
It would depend on a couple of things, first if the business owner is able to build and maintain the website themselves. Secondly, how much $$ would they normally spend on advertising each year. Personnally, when I'm looking for a product that I don't know where to get, I'm more likely to hit the 'net than grab the yellow pages. IMO, just because they don't sell their product over the internet, it doesn't mean that they won't get extra sales because of the a well designed website.:) - by Doc MC
...is it worth the time, money, and hassle to build a website if you are a small business owner and you don't sell a product/service over the Internet?
I guess it depends on how much time, money, and hassle you're talking about and what benefits you'd receive from the website. - by SalesGuy
IMO, "every" business should have an online presense no matter how small. At the very least, if a consumer searches for your business name on the Internet they should be able to find you. - by SpeedRacer
IMO, websites can be very effective when you utilize them properly. Many small business owners find themselves with websites, but don't really know what to do with them. Ask yourself: How will people find my website? How much business does it have to generate to pay for itself? and how will I measure results? Some people get so caught up in the "techie" end of their website (number of pages, animation and effects, and other "features"), that they forget the most important part: How will this thing bring me more business??

Most small businesses who have websites don't have a plan in place to track results, so they either have no idea if their website is producing for them or they assume it that it is not because they really don't know. My company puts together a low-cost website for small businesses that offers a 100% unconditional money-back guarantee, if the customer doesn't get results from their website. If you focus on results, you can't go wrong. - by RainMaker
My company puts together a low-cost website for small businesses that offers a 100% unconditional money-back guarantee, if the customer doesn't get results from their website.
Can you provide examples? Also, how do you measure "results"? - by WobblyBox
Can you provide examples? Also, how do you measure "results"?
Certainly. Here are our samples: www.withcoupon.com/owners.cfm. Scroll down and click sample website 1 and Sample website 2.

We watch website activity, as a STARTING point, but more importanly we want our clients to be able to tie specific sales directly to their website because that is what they are really looking for. We realize that every website visit will not translate directly to a sale (there are many intangilbe benefits, as well), but we believe strongly in the use of website coupons (or some type discount or website special offer) to track results. This serves 2 purposes: 1) When someone walks through the door with a printed website coupon, you KNOW where that sale came from; and 2). Coupons give customers a reason to KEEP COMING BACK to your website after the first look. Every time a potential customer visits your website, that is another opporunity to sell them your product and/or service and another opportunity to put yourself ahead of your competition and in the forefront of their minds. For restaurants, menu views are an important measure, also, because visitors primarly browse menus when they are about to place an order.

For purposes of our money-back guarantee, we measure results by happy clients. If they are not happy for ANY reason, we refund them--no questions asked. We do the bulk of our work up front and don't charge set-up fees, so our profitablity relies almost exclusively on renewal revenue from satisfied customers. - by RainMaker
Many small business owners find themselves with websites, but don't really know what to do with them. Ask yourself: How will people find my website?
Does your company also help promote the sites? - by WobblyBox
Does your company also help promote the sites?
Yes. Their subscription includes a website sign for their door and counter and customized website labels for their printed materials to get them started until their next printing run.

We also instruct them on how to promote it: The number one way people will find your website is...YOU ARE GOING TO TELL THEM ABOUT IT! I realize this sounds stupidly obvious, but I cannot tell you the number of businesses I've walked into, specifically looking for an indication that they have a website and there is none to be found. Then I ask the clerk..."Do you have a website?" There is a long pause..."um, I think so." "What is your website address?" I ask...."um...I'm not sure, I think its..." There are many ways to promote your website that cost nothing, only a little effort.

People are so caught up in the frenzy of being "found on the search engine" and while this is useful as a supplement, it is NO REPLACEMENT FOR SELF-PROMOTION OF YOUR WEBSITE. Do you search Yahoo when you want to shop on amazon or ebay? NO! Because their website address has already been burned into your mind. It is always preferable to have your customer come straight to you and not risk finding a competitor on a search engine. We bring our customers search engine traffic through our home page, (potentially new customers which they may not have otherwise found their website it were a free standing site), but these freebies are icing, not the meat and potatoes. - by RainMaker
People are so caught up in the frenzy of being "found on the search engine" and while this is useful as a supplement, it is NO REPLACEMENT FOR SELF-PROMOTION OF YOUR WEBSITE.
Good point for those people you can get your message in front of. ;) - by WobblyBox
Originally Posted by RainMaker
People are so caught up in the frenzy of being "found on the search engine" and while this is useful as a supplement, it is NO REPLACEMENT FOR SELF-PROMOTION OF YOUR WEBSITE.


What suggestions do you have for promoting a website? What works best for you and/or your clients? - by Mikey
It is important to always tie the message of "online specials" with the website address. It motivates the casual reader (walking past your store, for example) to remember your website name if they know they will be shopping for your product in the near future. - by RainMaker
Push your website in all your printed advertising. Your website is always working for you, long after newspaper ads are thrown away. Put it on your printed materials, yellow page ads, bus cards, flyers, menus (for restaurants) AND RIGHT ON YOUR DOOR if you have a storefront. Tell people about it and make sure your employees tell people about it. Motviate your customers to choose you over the competition by offering them a special for visiting your website and ASK PEOPLE HOW THEY HEARD ABOUT YOU WHEN THEY CONTACT YOU (which is so important, but not done enough, for all advertising tracking). - by RainMaker
Do you think a site would you get more traffic from those methods or from search engines? - by WobblyBox
It makes a signifant difference if you have a local or national market for your product. Search engine ranking plays a much bigger role if you are trying to reach a national market.

My clients are small local businesses and my experience is that many people underestimate the power of simple website promotion.

I have 2 pizza restaurant customers in the same city. One averages 150 unique visitor sessions in a month (not "hits" which would be a much higher number). He has happily renewed his website twice now. We'll call him Happy 150. The second restaurant averages 35-55 unique visitor sessions in a month and is grumbling that his site isn't working and he couldn't find it on the search engine. We'll call him Grumbly.

Happy 150 Has the words: "Online Coupons at: HisWebsite.com" in a large black box in reverse white letters on the front, back, and inside of his menu.

Grumbly just spent a bunch of money on a large local ad (that reads like a newstory) where he tells his customers to call him and he would be happy to fax his menu to them. NOWHERE in his large, expensive ad does he mention his website or that his menu is only a click away online. (he'd rather have people call him during the lunch rush, so he can stop and fax out his menu??)

Happy 150 used to take out full page ads in the Clipper Magazine, but has discontinued this form of advertising. Of course, I don't know if that is a result of his website, but I do know that he has figured out that more he promotes his own site, the more benefit he gets from his website for the same $199 every 6 months. - by RainMaker
You make very good points RainMaker, Most business owners who don't really know how websites work or who haven't used the internet much view their website as a promotional tool, which it is. However, unlike other promotional tools like print advertising, radio, etc. the website itself needs to be promoted. It sounds like Grumbly views his website as an "if you build it they will come" type of promotion. - by Doc MC
Thanks prospector...GREAT article! - by RainMaker
I'm a firm believer in having MULTIPLE websites that target different issues, pains, or problems potential clients are experiencing and offering a valuable freebie in exchange for their contact info. Great lead generators!

Once you settle upon a template for a basic opt-in micro-site (2 or 3 pages) that syncs up with an auto-responder you have pre-populated with good follow up sequences, updating the content on the website isn't too difficult or time consuming especially as you become more familiar with the back end of it.

This approach admittedly works better for service and knowledge based businesses and doesn't seem to provide the same lead quality for businesses that sell trinkets or widgets.

Just one man's opinion.

PS--if there is an interest in learning more about this approach, I'd be happy to toss together a webinar on it and answer questions. :) - by rogerbauer
Hi WobblyBox,

As a small business owner, the internet gives you the distinct advantage (like no other advertising medium) of being on a level playing field, at little cost (compared to TV, Radio and Print) and offers the highest ROI of all advertising channels.

Your website should be one of many approaches used to market your business. However, having an online presense and being "searchable" on the internet provides a number of benefits (each of which is especially useful in a recession):
  • Search provides a strong, highly measurable ROI for marketing spend
  • Search garners click-thru rates that exceed all other forms of online advertising
  • Search offers businesses the potential for immediate sales online, as well as for online and offline sales at a later time
  • Search can even enhance brands
  • Search often plays a strong role in influencing purchasing decisions
  • 80% of consumers and business people engage in search on a regular basis
In fact, during the current economic crises, online search (both organic and pay per click) continues to soar, proving that, even during a recession, people will continue to search online for information, products, services and solutions to their problems.

What does this all mean to the small business owner?

1) There are consumers and businesses out there who use search engines and directories to look for solutions to their problems, who want or need the products or services your company offers.

2) Whether companies sell online or not, their website can attract surfers who are currently in the buying process and who can be converted to a lead, appointment, newsletter/email subscriber, phone call, or sale.

3) The internet is not going anywhere - those that embrase it and use it to promote their business will have a distinct advantage over competitors that do not.

So how does a small business owner start to use the internet effectively?

By understanding what your short and long term online objectives are, by putting together a online promotion gameplan that utilises a mixture of search marketing methods and by using your website to engage with both 1st time and repeat visitors.

Truely knowing your target market is 80% of the way to business internet success. A 1st time visitor to a website should realise (almost immediately) that they are in the right place. Websites that do not engage their visitors, help their visitors take action, provide clear USP's (unique selling points) or provide updated "fresh" content are a waste of time, money and effort.

As mentioned in previous posts to this thread, having a website with great graphics, Flash and Java may look cool, but:
  • is it found in search engines?
  • does it help the surfer understand (within 10 seconds) what the business is about?,
  • does it "talk their language"?, and
  • does it guide the visitor to various "calls to action"?
Unfortunately, most websites don't go anywhere near this....most websites are designed for looks and not to garner hooks!

So yes, using a website to promote a business is very much worth it for a small business owner, especially during a recession, as long as you promote your website! msnwnk;

Tony - by Tonyd
I know this sounds naive but is it worth the time, money, and hassle to build a website if you are a small business owner and you don't sell a product/service over the Internet?
Tony is on fire with this answer, I have to agree 100%. - by Mr. Mike
When you are not on the internet you are being passed over by those who have a web page.Plain and simple.
When computers were not in eveyr household the answer would have been NO however many have two or three computers.They are like phones in many homes. They give directions,phone numbers ,people in business.
When a client goes to your web page the company has already started to bridge a relationship. The client can tell if they want to do business with your company hence they set up an appointment.The start of a relationship.
You tell me if it is important? - by rich34232
When you are not on the internet you are being passed over by those who have a web page.Plain and simple.
When computers were not in eveyr household the answer would have been NO however many have two or three computers.They are like phones in many homes. They give directions,phone numbers ,people in business.
When a client goes to your web page the company has already started to bridge a relationship. The client can tell if they want to do business with your company hence they set up an appointment.The start of a relationship.
You tell me if it is important?
Good points rich34232,

On the internet, when a potential 1st time customer comes to your website, certainly one that finds you through search engines or directories, you have around 8 seconds to convince them that they should spend at least another 45 seconds to 1 minute checking your website out.

How often do we click the little cross at the top right of our internet browser, when a website takes too long to download or just doesn't engage with us? I for one do this a lot...

That's because we are instantly given (within milliseconds) a top 10 of 100's of websites to browse, enquire and look at. Depending upon the title description and keywords, we then decide to click on a webpage within a website, served to us by the search engines.

Website have a very small amount of time to make an impression - we need the potential customer to think "MMMmmm - looks good, seems to speak my language, lets click around, then look at some testimonials, lets download their report and subscribe to their email newsletter...."

Relationships with potential customers who find your website don't start until you give them enough reasons to stay on your website and take some form of action (call to action). But even then, people know that a great website does not necessarily mean a great business to buy products, services or solutions from. A great looking website doesn't mean a great business to buy from, but a really engaging, informative, interactive website with various calls to action (e.g. getting the customer to take action) means that the customer MAY take the next big step (for them).

Once a customer has interest, then you should go about plugging them into whichever marketing system you use, mixing it with Direct Mail, Postcards, Follow Up Calls etc

The best way to "begin" a relationship and to earn trust and credibility is to offer something of VALUE on your website to a 1st time visitor, in exchange for their email address.

Then you plug them into your email newsletter campaign, get them back to your website as often as possible, then as and when they are ready to buy or book an appointment, you will be their first call (or email!)

Websites and the Internet really are great time leverages. The previous trend was that the whole sales process was conducted by a salesman, from initial enquiry to appointment, to quotation and order placement. Nowadays, your website can really filter out prospects (hot leads, warm leads, cold leads and suspects) without your salesman getting involved - this is the most effective use of having an online presence.

When people start using search engines and the internet to find solutions to their problems, they might be "ready to buy", "looking to gain further info to enable them to make a future informed decision" or just "looking for information on the topic in general" - a really effective website needs to address all three (and more) possible outcomes to really engage with target customers.

On the internet, first impressions really do count - once they're satisfied with your content, with calls to action nudging them to act, the relationship can start to develop, but not before then - certainly for 1st time visitors.

Remember the 8 second rule and make your website as "sticky" as possible and plug 'em into your online (and offline) marketing.

Tony - by Tonyd
Building a website is so easy and inexpensive that one hardly a question to consider.

The funny thing is, if you are in internet marketing...you really don't need a website...as you could be an affiliate pushing other peoples webpages using public spaces, like forums, social networks.

If you are a traditional trades, having a website gives you at the least another useful point of contact....even if you do not play with key word optimization.

I have certainly created many $500 websites for many small businesses that have improved their sales productivity quite a bit. - by alexhar
I know this sounds naive but is it worth the time, money, and hassle to build a website if you are a small business owner and you don't sell a product/service over the Internet?
I am not sure if the web has taken the place of the Yellow Pages yet but in some aspects they will soon if they haven't yet. For us that have been doing busess for several decades, we can remember when if a business wasn't in the YP then they were not considered a real business by many. I find myself only looking on the web for businesses, regardless of what kind they are. If the are listed with a phone number, map and address only, the chances are slim that I will consider them. If they have a nice website then I may consider them. The question to ask now is, "Am I a fair representation of the general public?" The answer is if I am not I soon will be.

According to marketing studies the vast portion of the shoppers (Middle class) are more likely to make a purchase if they are familiar with the brand name. Assuming that "old school" trend is still true a website may make the difference between a sale and not having a sale. If the purpose of a website is ONLY for authentication then once it is made the owner doesn't have to ever change it. So the cost is relevantly low. If you are using the website to sell, use as a catalog, educate or anything that will bring the potential customer back, then it must be maintained. If not the comitition may out manuever you and your stagnant marketing practices. - by ESISS.com
Websites now a day are an extension of your business. In the early days a website was almost a novelty, but today it is almost like a driving license. It is a must. - by designed
What is the name of your company? - by smaginot
There is an argument either way but I submit an old school viewpoint. When I was a young man starting out, if I wanted to check on a business I used the Yellow Pages. If a business was not in the Yellow Pages I didn't do business with them. That is an old school approach. I see the Internet and websites about the same. When I am looking for information I go to the Internet. If a business doesn't have a website but are listed on a site that has a rating system I rate them and it isn't good. I do so not because I am a,,, shall we say a not so nice person, although I am, I do it to get the message to the business that they are behind in the times. My guess they are still using a fax machine. OK, we all still have them but they are soon to meet the fate of the typewriter. We live in a time that time, information and efficiency is more important than ever.

As you all know a website is only a tool but it is one that can separate a business from the competition. It also can help potential customers identify if they want to do business with you are someone else. If they choose to do business with someone else because they went to your website and found out that you don't provide the service or product that they want then that is a blessing because they didn't interrupt your busy personnel or waste their time.

There are many reasons why a business should have a website. Last but not least. If a business can't afford a website in this day and age, then they have more serious issues than a website.

Michael C. - by ESISS.com
A website is today's equivalent of an ad in the Yellow Pages. Consumers of every product type increasingly rely on the web to inform their decision making process whether it's in the initial gathering of information about a certain product or service, evaluating potential vendors, comparing vendors and increasingly, looking for any "word of mouth" comments on a vendor. Accordingly, one should consider whether a web presence will help or not. As for cost, I've put up very nice looking websites for an initial cost of under $100 and an ongoing cost of less than $10 per month, using standard templates provided by hosting vendors (there are dozens who offer this kind of service). My suggestion is start somewhere and see how it works in your business. Over time you can refine it and make it more effective. - by Glennd1
Does your company also help promote the sites?
My Company specializes in website promotion. We do webdesign free of charge. The reality is that having a website is nearly pointless unless there is a plan for driving traffic to the website. There are many strategies available the one that offers the highest ROI is Search Engine Optimization. - by MyBusinessMarketing
This is a reasonable question to ask. Especially as a small business who is managing cash flow day to day, week to week, month to month.

First of all, let me tell you that I work for an all in one website company - from building websites to domains and hosting. We are very affordable and easy.

One of our most recent customers is a self-proclaimed illiterate with the web, hates email and resisted getting a website. Until last month. She finally tired of hearing her potential customers ask her if she had a website where they could see her work (she is a tent rental company for events and weddings).

Within one week of putting her site live, she had two new customers she can say was a direct result of the website.

How do you think she would answer your question?
Cheers,
Karen - by HotDoodle
Are you going to Track people searching for the kind of products/service you offer? If the answer is yes, then you should have a website. But that is not the end. You also need to work on Search engine optimization. By this customers could track and then visit your Physical Store. Then this will be beneficial.

There are also other uses. If you are selling products with catolouges and there is a frequent need to update, then your customers could get used to your website to trace the new ranges. - by linkandlurn
A website is very useful, especially with the way that Google has curtailed searches to local companies. With that said, your site is not going to sit there and promote itself. A website is just a medium to promote your business, just like anything else. If you do not tell people you have a website or properly optimize your website, then it's not going to do much good. Websites are there to take advantage of the wave of "new media" and to even the playing field when it comes to advertising. It is a GREAT way to pick up leads for your business. It saves a lot of businesses plenty of time picking up phone calls and having to answer very general questions that can be found on the website. However, it is not magic. - by treezie
Yes, you absolutely need a Web Site. It can be the single most important way to keep you competitive and possibly even set you apart from your competition. Domain Names and Hosting have become dirt cheap and you can use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Software to at least build a single Home Page yourself. In addition, there many Free Sites to educate yourself about SEO (search engine optimization) with suggestions about Page layout, Page titles, Meta tags, Key Words, Navigation, Links and even Search Engine submissions, etc.

Once you have at least a one page Site, you should educate yourself about and get involved with Social Networking. Facebook has over 200 million Members. You Tube visitors watch 13 Billion Videos a month. Linkedin has 15 Million Business people networking. Twitter is growing at over 40% per month. So what's your excuse for not using these Free Promotional tools to help build your creditability, your reputation, your List of Prospects and yes, even your Sales? For those who believe you are too small, this is how you become Big. For those who believe you can't afford it, you can't afford not to do it. For those who believe you just don't need it, your Competition will eat you for Lunch. - by Stan Billue
There are a great many terrific replies in this thread. I believe a website or a web presence is essential to commerce because you don't even really exist without it.

Pretty existential, huh? Just do it.

Use a FaceBook professional profile or Fan Page to promote yourself and your business acumen.

Put up a free Linked In profile. Start small.

The second most important reason to have a web presence is credibility. If consumers can look at your work or read about your successes, you've made a significant inroad on the way to a relationship and a sale.

As for promotion, I agree that exchanging information or a gift for an email address is a priceless exchange for you.

Regarding getting people to your site. Tell people about it - Right on!! Also try article marketing. Just Google Travis Sago or "Bum Marketing" to start on that track. I'm not associated with TS - I just dig what he says. God luck - Magicman - by magicman
Just having a website alone, will not bring any real benefit. The Business through internet is completely different from the normal business. Daily thousands of people are searching for products through internet. These are the basics to benefit from such demand.
1. First Identify the key words your prospective customers would be searching, using Google Adwords.
2. Then Apply such words within your website where ever it is meaningful.
3. Use such Key words in the web based advertisement, so that your advertisement will popup when some one search in the search network.

This could bring targeted visitors for your niche. More visit means higher sales opportunities. This is a great way of benefiting from yoru website. - by linkandlurn
Having an online presence is crucial to help people find your services. Many people nowadays do their own personal research, starting with a Google Search. If someone can't find you, then you don't exist and they could just move on to the next vendor. - by Huthwaite1
Weekly Updates!
Questions and Answers about Selling
Subscribe to our mailing list to get threads and posts sent to your email address weekly - Free of Charge.