The Importance of Having a Website For a Small Business

Well, let us start by knowing what a website is. A website is a virtual space allocated to an individual, a corporate entity, an organisation and even a country on the worldwide web or internet whereby the views – be it social, religious or political – of that person or body are propagated and disseminated to the world at large. Now, the importance or significance of an internet presence through a website to the rapid financial growth and success of an individual or a body cannot be over-emphasized. An advantage that readily comes to mind is the greater market that the internet affords to everyone who is wise enough to exploit it to one’s advantage – especially now that the world has become a global village, whereby anyone can get access to the internet even at the remotest of all villages with GPS-enabled phones and proper web settings.

The benefits of having a website are numerous indeed. Apart from the one that l mentioned in the last paragraph above, the internet gives you a 24/7 (24hrs a day / 7days a week), 365/6 (365 or 366days a year) access to everyone anywhere around the globe. And that means that even while a website owner may be sleeping, eating, playing or attending to the needs of his or her family, the website is always open for business and automatically attending to the demands of the site’s visitors without fail every single second, every single minute, every single hour, every single day of every single year. With all these benefits, you would expect someone to incur a huge monthly bill as running cost and overheads, wouldn’t you? But, what do you actually incur as your “office” overheads or running costs? Nothing! All you spend in many instances is the time and cost of building the website and hosting it on the internet.

My practical experience over the years as a small time business person has brought to the fore some reasons why many small-scale business persons, probably just like myself, do not have websites. Many of them may not yet be fully exposed to the internet. Additionally, they may know virtually nothing about the internet as well – and, as humans, we tend to fear what we do not understand and hate what we cannot conquer. Similarly, many small business owners are skeptical about the internet because, not only do they not understand how it works, but they equally see some site owners perhaps in their neighborhood who appear not to have made any remarkable progress with their sites.

Anyway, now that we have substantiated the need for a small time business to have a website, the next matter which needs to be given thorough and adequate consideration in order to arrive at a meaningful and result-oriented action plan is: given the many service providers rendering website building and hosting services that are available on the internet, which would be the right choice to employ as a practical and success-driven tool? My research on the web revealed that only a handful of the numerous website building and hosting service providers possess the requisite tools that would ensure the ultimate success of any small business on the web. Hence, a small business owner need to be particularly discerning in order to make a wise choice that would guarantee and precipitate a massive traffic-building process unmatched anywhere else on the net.

This is so because it is not sufficient to have a website that nobody visits. In other words, traffic or visitors to a website has a direct bearing on the income a business makes from having a website. Hence, more visitors to a site means more income, and no traffic invariably means no income for a business.

In the same vein, a consideration of the experiences of other small business owners would indeed be helpful in this regard. I stumbled on the following documented internet dossier of some selected small business owners in some parts of the world which l feel would particularly be of help too – http://case-studies.sitesell.com/Kitoje_netpro.html.

Conclusively, having analyzed the underlying causes of business stagnation and apparent lack of growth for many small businesses, we have highlighted the dire need of having a website as a huge boost for rapid growth and financial success for small businesses. In order for any small-scale business to embark on the road to sustainable growth and financial success and be well-equipped with the requisite “road map” blue-print for business success, it is imperative for such business to have a website. On the other hand, there is nothing anywhere which says that a small business person who has already taken some wrong decisions cannot make a detour from a dead-end road leading nowhere and with all the signs of failure clearly written in BOLD print.

BOTTOM LINE?

Every small business owner who decides to have a website with an expert website building and hosting firm is destined for success even during these times of global economic recession.

Online Marketing for Small Business Websites in 2012

Well, 2011 is over and 2012 is here. And unless you believe in the Mayan prediction that the world will end later this year, as a small business owner you are probably going over your sales and marketing strategy for the coming year, making sure you have covered all of the bases and beginning to implement it in full force. All signs point to virtual double-digit growth in online sales volume in 2012, so hopefully your small business has online marketing as a significant part of your overall strategy. Below are a couple of areas that all small businesses should be focusing in on to maximize their online revenue stream.

Mobile Sales

Mobile sales are any sales where the actual purchase derives directly from a cellphone, smart phone or tablet device. Sales from mobile devices are a boon to small businesses because they break down the traditional geographic barriers and increase their potential customer base. They are also important because in today’s world, where decisions are made on the go and consumers are constantly being bombarded by additional input, small business owners need to capture sales at the time when the customer is ready to buy. If they don’t, life will intervene and delay that purchasing action or worse, drive it toward your competitors.

Estimates predict that mobile sales will account for a whopping $11.6 billion dollars in revenue in 2012. Are you positioned to get your piece of that pie? Taking advantage of mobile sales means using all of the tools at your disposal to convince customers to buy and then giving them the power to act on that decision immediately. It means designing your website from A to Z for useability and readability on smart phones and tablets. It means choosing typography that is attractive and readable on smaller screens as well as large home computer monitors. It means having an overall website design that is fluid… one that looks and works great on any screen no matter what the size. It means having navigation that works just as easily with thumbs and forefingers as it does with a mouse. It also means taking advantage of the power of Social Media to present your company, brand and products in a timely and effective way.

Social Media

It should be no surprise that the rise of Social Media Marketing and Mobile sales are closely related. Last year, Facebook estimated that 350 million of its 800 million users (40%) accessed the site via mobile devices. More and more consumers are using Social Media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to research different products and make buying decisions. More importantly, Social Media provides THE SINGLE BEST opportunity to engage with your customers and potential customers on a regular basis. Social Media networks are available 24 hours a day, meaning that you can present marketing to your potential customers 24 hours a day. Just as important is the opportunity to increase your brand awareness, and build and reinforce your relationships with your customers. Offering discounts, coupons and other promotions to people that visit your Facebook business page on a regular basis is a great way to get people coming back over and over again. Is your business on Google+ yet? Don’t discount the potential power of this relatively new social network. Many are speculating that companies who utilize the new platform will automatically do better in Google’s search engine rankings, regardless of how many people actually visit the page!

Replicate the Retail Experience

I believe this is one of the greatest opportunities for small businesses to capitalize on the mobile and social marketing trends of 2012. While many customers will continue to shop online for the sake of convenience (among other reasons), they still want the responsiveness and service available from taking to a live person. The traditional customer service vehicle of a small business online presence has always been email or the website form. However, there are a variety of live chat options available that can greatly improve a small business’s response time for customers, which will lead to greater sales now and better customer retention in the future. Given the relatively small cost of some of these options (some are even FREE), the Return on Investment is phenomenal. Any time you can give the customer what they want, when they want it, you are putting yourself in a great position to succeed! Finding ways, like implementing a Live Chat system for both and pre- and post-sales situations is just one way to provide the best possible customer experience.

2012 – Great Promise for Small Businesses

Those small businesses that learn how to effectively extend their traditional brick and mortar presence into the online marketplace will enjoy the greatest success in 2012. A seamless integration of these strategies will produce more customers, greater customer retention, and open up even more opportunities through word of mouth, links back to your website and more followers on your social marketing accounts.

Local Internet Marketing Tools For Small Businesses With Google

Online advertising can be a very cost-effective form of advertising for small and local businesses if planned out correctly. In this article we will be covering specifically Google and their digital advertising opportunities for small businesses and internet marketing local strategies.

The Google advertising platform consists of

  • The Google Search Network,
  • The Google Display Network,
  • YouTube,
  • Google Places
  • Google Mobile

Where Google fits into the online advertising landscape and internet marketing local strategy

We have never seen a downturn in a digital economy and the economic slowdown or lag in the economy is actually fueling online growth. Consumers are more empowered than ever before having access through a variety of devices and are enabled through the wide penetration of the internet and the tools it brings to research, investigate, share opinions, compare and purchase. The economic downturn is going to increase the importance of digital in our lives because it helps us save money time and travel expenses. Any local business owner should learn how to use the tools and advertising capabilities for local internet marketing with Google.

Google is a top 3 internet property in terms of visit, between the display and search partner Google reaches ninety percent of the internet population making Google’s advertising platform number one in terms of audience reach. With over 2.5 billion page views per day and over 450 unique users per month Google provides a platform to reach any consumer in all industries making it very a very important variable for internet marketing local strategies.

Over the past five years the advertising landscape has changed dramatically with online marketing spend experiencing explosive growth and local internet marketing adding to that growth dramatically. While most other media have maintained relative levels of spend with global online advertising spend growing over all it is important to note that newspaper advertising revenue has been cannibalized by online media budgets, local internet marketing is becoming more and more cost-effective because of these changes.

Why is it that online has become so popular?

There are some key factors to take into consideration when determining what media is used in any marketing campaign. Consider the marketing objective of your campaign; is the campaign goal brand awareness, direct sales and accusation, or developing new markets? Also consider the production costs involved the ability to effectively target and measure audiences and the popularity with consumers. Online advertising has experienced immense growth because it allows advertisers the ability to reach a large number of consumers at home or abroad in an efficient and measurable manner. Given the range of advertising options available by combining search, display and video advertising, supported with sophisticated reporting and tracking tools and large audience reach, online marketing campaigns become a compelling concept for any small and local business developing a smart local internet marketing strategy.

When comparing traditional media advertising use to online advertising it is important to take into consideration the consumer buying cycle. Traditional media such as television, radio, print and outdoor advertising are broadcast and are non interactive media. Their primary purpose is to push a message out to an audience and is best suited to develop brand awareness within an audience, as well as attempting to influence consumers during the consideration phase of a buying cycle. These broadcast media are usually referred to as above the line media. Public relations activity, in store promotions and direct mail are used to engage consumers on a more personal and direct level and can be used in any campaign that wants to encourage product trial and establish or to establish loyalty and repurchase.

The introduction of the online advertising media changed the traditional models by giving small and local businesses the ability to cost effectively target potential customers at any time in the buying cycle depending on how the online campaign us constructed. Google search advertising can be used for brand awareness and has also been proven to be a very effective driver of direct sales and very effective for local internet marketing.

So why does Google play such an important part in the local internet marketing landscape?

To answer that we need to understand how the population consumes media. Google understands from researching user behavior that it acts as a core research point for consumers. So what are the other drivers that affect a user’s path? Once a user clicks on a search result they may move to a publisher or site within the display network to collect information. There is an opportunity here for advertisers that are implementing local internet marketing strategies to reinforce their message to the potential customer by using some pretty cool display features on YouTube, or within the vast display network. As the user gathers information they may come back to Google to gather more information. This process may repeat several times. For local and small businesses that want to implement branding and awareness campaigns, huge opportunities exist during this loop to capture attention and reinforce a message or a brand name with a potential customer who is actively collecting information.

Research has shown that television is the biggest driver of online search, in fact 67 percent of internet users have gone online to search for a product advertised offline, as users are exposed to offline messaging they will use Google to learn more about a product or service they may have encountered through another medium. This is how Google adds value to offline advertising and is such an important part for local internet marketing. Applying consistent integrated cross media campaigns will generate a higher return. The value of search does not just end in online clicks and conversions. Consumers use Google to research their purchase decisions in fact, 89 percent of consumer’s research products online, and 63 percent make their purchase offline. It is important to utilize online advertising with local businesses online conversions are not the end of the cycle in the brand awareness campaign and should be added to any effective local internet marketing strategy.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results With Google Services

One in five searches are related to a location-based service, searching on Google or Google maps will produce a map of a geographic location with specific businesses listed on the map. The business information has been aggregated from multiple sources such as phone book information. When the business takes control of their location and uses it in their local internet marketing campaign they can control the information that is presented. Features that enhance a business listing include allowing restaurants to provide a menu as well as the ability for a business to provide a coupon, and provide driving and walking directions.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results with Mobile Integration

Mobile use is growing at an astonishing rate, for each PC sold worldwide in 2009 3.3 phones were sold into the consumer market. Technology is advancing at a break neck rate in mobile computing, with smart phones, Wi-Fi and 3G coming standard in the mobile phone market. With an increasing population having access to a computer in their pocket many opportunities for location-based marketing campaigns are opening up for local businesses to harness local internet marketing and advertising strategies. According to recent figures at the time of this writing there are over five billion active mobile users worldwide and it is reported that smart phone sales have overtaken sales of the classic mobile models. Location targeting features are very effective for local and small businesses and local internet marketing effectiveness because 1 in 3 mobile search queries have local intent. Users could be looking for a nearby store, restaurant or travel destinations. Mobile applications also show a very high tendency to include local information this shows how tightly local and mobile are tied together. When you as a business owner have an ad in the mobile arena, features like click to call can be extremely effective in generating new customers.

As a local business owner teaming up with Google can be a very cost-effective way of advertising your business and staying in contact with your current customers and essential for any marketing campaign that applies local internet marketing.