Thursday, June 30, 2011

Placing a "dot com" behind your business

In a Network Solutions study of Small Business Success, 56% of small businesses have websites. Are you apart of that 44% of small businesses without a website? It is imperative that business owners utilize technology to its full potential to advance in their industries. Establishing and maintaining a business website is a great way to keep your customers informed on updates and promotions as well as interact with your target market. A website can pose as another sales channel outside of the physical location to sell products/services.

According to Internet World Stats, in North America as of March 31, 2011 there were 272,066,000 internet users. Within that number of users is potential customers for your business. Consumers are no longer rushing to the physical yellow pages book to find a mechanic, good restaurant or hair salon. They are looking for the “dot coms” to not only find their desired product or service, but to get them the best fit for their needs based on local search results, reviews and current promotions.

Having a web site is beneficial to your business for many reasons such as cost reduction, efficient advertising, market expansion, and keeping your business competitive. Although their maybe some drawbacks for business owners who are not tech savvy, training and/or outsourcing for website maintenance are options for your business and its long term goals.

With more than 27% of small businesses on Facebook, some business owners have taken advantage of it as an official website for the company. This cuts costs of setting up an actual website and is easier for them to maintain.

Guy Kawasaki made great points to why business owners settle for a Facebook fan page versus a website to have an online presence for the business. Facebook allow businesses to instantly interact with them without having to build up a buzz about a live website. However, Kawasaki also mentioned that there are drawbacks by only utilizing Facebook Fan Page.

When looking to setup a business website, it is helpful to research other company sites to get an idea of where to begin. Knowing what your competitors sites look like and market is important to know. In addition, knowing your target market will come in handy when choosing the right templates, content, and graphics that will capture their attention as well as represent your company’s brand. Give visitors an experience that will persuade them to visit your physical location to patronize. Give your “brick and mortar” customers reasons to go online. Create a testimonial section and be sure to include all positive feed back with an area for satisfied customers to add their good experiences as well.

Let’s say you are running a spa business and a potential consumer who is not in your geographic market would like to purchase a spa day. Allowing this patron to purchase their package and make an appointment online will be seen as a convenience so when the spa day arrives, the customer can walk in and begin a day of relaxation with no hassle. You are not only reaching consumers who may not be within your geographic area but you are offering a convenient online experience for them. E-commerce can work for products and service, so adding this feature to your website will be beneficial.

Business websites are a great enhancement and if used properly can take your business to the next level.

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