In today’s day in age, most business owners understand the significance a website plays in the growth of your business, but every now and then I run into the questions, “Is a website worth it?”
“Why do I need a website? Word of mouth and my Facebook does just fine for generating leads.”
Typically I will do my best in the spur of the moment to educate on why your website is your most important marketing asset, but I always feel like I fall short of explaining the significance.
If you’re on the fence or on the side where you may not think it is as important then I hope this post brings to light the importance of why you need a fully optimized website.
1) Your Online Store
First and foremost, your website is your digital store above all things. I like to think of your business existing in two worlds: physically and digitally.
If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a digital business location. Now I know what you’re thinking, “My Facebook is my digital business.”
No, your Facebook page is a booth and you’re renting a space at Zuckerberg’s trade show.
And boy is it becoming more and more like a trade show, especially since the January algorithm update that pushed business page posts lower in the news feed. Now your business is going to be showing up less and less unless you start using their ads feature (or form a group around your page).
On top of all this, your website is your 24/7 salesman. When Mr. CFO pulls a 15 hour day at the office and starts looking for commercial lawn care maintenance services for the end of the fiscal year bids, don’t you want to be in the running for his research? Your website is going to put you on that radar and help sell your services.
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a fantastic place for you to have a presence. In fact, you should be optimizing your Facebook page just like your own website.
2) Online Research
A study by Forrester concluded that 71% of consumers start their buying journey using a search engine like Google or Bing and 74% of them stated that they used search engines during the research portion of the consideration stage.
So right now, we have customers throughout the buyers’ journey looking for services and products. If you don’t have a website, you’re not going to come up.
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean there were more brand discoveries on search engines rather than social media, but it suggests that when someone wants to know more information they use a search engine rather than social media — 5x more.
Which brings me to my next point.
3) Social Media Conversion Tracking
A conversion is defined when a user takes an action with your brand that you want, usually filling out a form or calling you. But it can even be defined as the amount of time they watched a video or stayed on a specific page on your site.
Typically, conversions are labeled as leads, and leads turn into sales. This is why conversion tracking is so important. Reviewing your website traffic is one thing, but if that traffic isn’t turning into sales, then what’s the point of the traffic?
I always tell my clients I don’t just want to provide them ‘fluff’ metrics about their SEO or paid ad campaigns, I want to provide real results and in order to do that, we need to understand where our traffic is coming from and what they’re doing after they come from that source.
Insert Social Media.
Conversion tracking with Google Analytics is simple enough. But did you know you can implement the same kind of tracking from your social media profiles such as Facebook onto your website?
Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to place a tracking ‘pixel’ on your site. The pixel then monitors the behavior of the traffic when it navigates to your site from one of those platforms. If you have a goal defined within the platform’s tracking feature, you’ll be able to accurately know the return on investment (ROI) you’re receiving for your paid traffic from social media.
Having a tracking pixel on your site from a social platform like Facebook’s will allow you to ‘retarget’ your website visitors on that social platform.
You’ll be able to select website visitors as a targeting method in your Ads Manager account!
Once you take the next step and get your own site, I recommend you check out this post on how to implement your Facebook tracking pixel.
4) Social Media is Limited
Just like the trade show analogy, you’re renting someone else’s space. Which means you can’t show everything you want to. You’re limited to their services, about, contact, and posting sections.
For example, if you want to write articles and blog posts to help foster the credibility of your brand (as you should be doing), then where will those live? Well I can tell you that you would most likely use LinkedIn’s posting feature for this.
But now if you’re just on LinkedIn, you don’t have a handy ‘Services’ section like Facebook and you’re missing out on the 79% of all internet traffic that is on Facebook.
Okay easy solution, be on both. Right?
Well, yes, you should if that’s where your target audiences live. However, now you’re asking your audience to bounce between two platforms that:
- You don’t own.
- Don’t contain all of your company’s info, news, and services.
And if your potential customer doesn’t have one of those social media profiles, then you could be missing out on an opportunity strictly because they don’t have a profile.
You know what you don’t need a profile for? Visiting a website.
5) Online Credibility
I apologize if I come off a bit harsh here, but if you don’t think websites make you more credible, where are you reading this blog post right now? You most likely found it on a forum or shared via social media, but it doesn’t live there. It lives on my site, and you’re here now. Learning.
Look, 92% of US adults use search engines at some point. You can spin it anyway you want to but this is what people use now to conduct research, whether they’re trying to get a question answered, looking for a service, or getting ideas on their next project.
If your competitor has a fully SEO optimized website with a nice design, and butt loads of information regarding their services and industry, who do you think will look more credible if you don’t have a site and rely on social media?
Yes, it’s true that word of mouth is one of the most powerful resources for leads, however, have you ever considered what kind of opportunity you might be missing out on because your word of mouth hasn’t reached a high potential customer?
Maybe a multi-location commercial client is looking for a new lawn maintenance provider but the word of mouth hasn’t left your residential market quite yet.
6) Google and Bing Advertising
I’ve already mentioned the amount of traffic that search engines get, and showing up at the top is more important than ever, which means ads are going to be the way to go (along with a strong organic presence).
I’ts kind of hard to run Google AdWords if you don’t have a website to drive traffic to.
But how important is it to be at the top of Google?
If you’re unfamiliar with how Google ads work, take a look below.
The section outlined in green is the paid ads section of Google. Up to 4 of these may show up on desktop and 3 on mobile at the top. Paid ads can show at the bottom of the page too.
The blue section is the local listings. This section is populated on your ‘local’ organic ranking. In other words, the top three businesses are what Google finds most relevant to the searcher’s query AND relative location. This is known as the ‘local 3-pack’ (which is something we help optimize your business for with local SEO optimization).
The last section in the red is your organic listing. Similar to the local organic section, this one is more focused on keywords and how relevant the search is.
So how important is it for you to be at the top of Google?
Well check this out, the first ‘organic’ search result gets 33% of all organic clicks, the second gets 17%, and the third gets 11%. And out of it all, less than 10% of searchers make it to the second page of Google.
Which makes the second page the best place to hide a dead body.
And what does this say for paid ads at the top of Google?
Well, an even more recent study by WordStream shows that over 64% of clicks on the first page are from paid ads!
This is why it’s so important to be at the top of Google and paid search engine ads are definitely a good way to go.
Check out “5 Ways to Help You Get to the Top of Google“.
7) Proper Landing Pages
Any successful marketer will tell you that one of the major keys to a successful ad campaign is a well constructed landing page.
Owning your own site will allow you to create simple, user friendly pages built to generate leads. Of course you can use 3rd party products like LeadPages or UnBounce to create your optimized lead pages, but it doesn’t compare to an optimized landing page on your own site.
Earlier I mentioned ‘fluff’ metrics. A fluff metric is any statistic that looks good or is up month-over-month but doesn’t mean anything in terms of your bottom line. These would be like average session duration, bounce rate, pages per session, etc.
Metrics we want to optimize for are conversion rate, goal completions, etc. These are actionable metrics that tell us a lot more about what our traffic is doing as well as how many of them are turning into leads.
The purpose of this post isn’t just for you to get a site. It’s for you to understand why you need an ‘optimized’ site. If you’re curious about how to prepare your site for driving traffic from paid ads, I’d check out this post by Andrew Hubbard: “7 Steps to Prepare Your Website for Profitable Paid Traffic“.
8) Customer Behavior Tracking
One of the biggest things you can’t do effectively with social media is track the behavior of your customer when they’re on your page. Yes, you can tell common interests and demographics as well as engagements they’ve taken, but you can’t tell how they interact with your brand, like the number of photos they’ve viewed or how long they were on your page.
You can’t tell that they checked out your social profile for 17 seconds and then left without taking an action.
You can’t tell that they were looking for information about your company before your services.
And you can’t tell all the different services they were interested in.
With Google Analytics on your site, we can track everything someone does on each of your web pages… FOR FREE.
We can see:
- How many pages they visited
- How long they stayed on the site
- Which pages they visited
- Whether they were a new or returning visitor
- And so much more!
Which means we can optimize the site to improve what we might consider bad metrics for your business. If we see users are landing on your home page and then leaving after 5 seconds, then we may be able to determine that they aren’t finding what they’re looking for right away and leaving.
If you don’t think people only take 5 seconds to look at a website to determine if they’re going to find the information they’re looking for, then consider this study by Pingdom. They found that if your site takes longer than 5 seconds to simply load, then 50% of users leave right away without taking an action.
Your site needs to be easily navigable and this is data we can track simply by having a website.
9) Online Catalog
Your social media profiles are teasers to your company. Think of them as brochures, while your website is your full catalog to your company’s services, portfolio, and industry knowledge.
94% of B2B buyers research online prior to making a purchasing decision. If your full catalog isn’t online, you’re missing out on 94% of the commercial market.
Not a commercial guy?
Then maybe it might be worth noting that 74% of all consumers use websites to research products and services before buying.
10) Online Portfolio
This kind of goes along with the online catalog section. Aside from researching your knowledge of the industry, services you offer, and how to get in touch, your website is also the perfect medium to display past projects you’ve completed.
It’s the perfect place to organize and showcase your designs to make it incredibly easy for your customers to see examples of what you’ve done in the past. This increases trust value exponentially so the customer has a good feeling of knowing what they’re going to be paying for.
You might be surprised to know that 89% of shoppers said appealing product photos can influence their purchasing decisions.
Are you showcasing your work for your potential customers to easily see?
11) Knowledge Center
I’ve already beat to death how much people research products and services prior to making a purchase decision. Which is why your website needs to be your knowledge center as well.
What do I mean by knowledge center? Well you’re reading it right now. This blog is our knowledge center.
Create blogs and articles to showcase your knowledge of your services and industry. Teach your customers how to properly build a retaining wall.
Show your customers the 5 worst fungi and how to get rid of them.
And I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t want them to do it themselves, I want them to pay me to do it.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that your maintenance customers probably know how to mow a lawn… but you do it anyways. It’s not that they don’t know how to do it, it’s that they don’t want to do it or perhaps can’t do it as professionally as you or don’t have the equipment.
Either way, if your customer wants to learn something, they’re gong to learn it somewhere, so it might as well be from you.
12) Better Success with B2B Clients
“Online Credibility” covered this one, but it’s worth mentioning again. Plus, if you’re a skimmer then I hope this headline at least caught your attention.
But just to reiterate, pretend you’re that CFO I mentioned in the first point. When you get home to research lawn maintenance companies, are you going on Google or on Facebook?
Basically what I’m saying is I hope you don’t use Facebook for business based decisions and research.
13) Your Competitors Have One
Well, don’t they?
If you don’t know then you’re losing. As Sun Tzu famously put it:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Ah, poetry, isn’t it?
Your competitors are already aware of the points I’ve made in this blog post and are capitalizing on the 70+% of research traffic that you are not if you don’t have a website.
You need to know what they’re doing and do it better.
If you don’t have a website, then you need one. And you needed one yesterday. But not just any website, you need a fully SEO optimized website.
If you don’t know where to start then don’t worry. We can help you out along the process and build you a fully optimized website and get you ranking in Google, help you run ads, establish credibility online, and gain more business.