Whether you run a small flower delivery service or are in the process of patenting a path-breaking invention, it is impossible to overstate the importance of the Internet for any business today and this article helps you understand why a website is a must for your business.
With one of the fastest growing populations of Net users in the world, India will have an estimated 3 billion Internet users by 2020, according to a recent IAMAI report. As more and more Indians go online, the Internet is disrupting business models and giving rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
SMBs in India have been surprisingly sluggish when it comes to leveraging the Internet. India is home to over 51 million small businesses, accounting for more than 17% of our country’s GDP. However, according to a study by advisory firm Zinnov, only 20% of Indian SMBs (about 10 million) are technology-ready. Just 500,000 SMBs have a website and a mere two million have access to the Internet. This is set to change in the next few years.
If you own a business, a website is a must-have in today’s connected world. Your website is where new customers will discover your business, find information about your products and services, and most importantly, get in touch with you. Listing on online marketplaces or creating a presence on social media is a good start, but not really a long-term solution. As your business grows, it is important to have your own online identity.
Take the case of Rajkot-based Jay Khodiyar Machine Tools (JKMT). Founded in 1994, JKMT manufactures biomass briquetting machines, which turn agro, forestry and municipal waste into biomass briquettes. Since creating an online presence – a professional website and personalized email addresses – JKMT’s businesses inquiries have grown by 500%. That’s what an effective online presence can do. There are several compelling benefits to having your own website.
Every business is special, but it needs to be discovered first. Today, when people look for any new product or service, they first search on the Internet. Typical consumer behavior is to search for a category and then choose the brand. The goal of every business is to be the leader of their category. And that is where the website comes in.
A website with the right keywords is crucial for getting discovered. Even if most of your business happens offline, your customers still need to find you online to even know that your store exists. Discoverability matters.
Your website is a great tool to differentiate you from other similar businesses. It immediately sets you apart and makes people view your work as a serious, legitimate business. A website allows a business to customize its look and feel, the way you converse with the customer and create a differentiated customer experience. A differentiated business takes the conversation away from pricing and focuses on the brand value and its products.
Your website provides a platform for customers to engage with you and each other through forums, discussion boards, ratings and reviews. Your website and social media go hand in hand in creating a compelling online branding for your business. Customer success stories, user reviews and feedback can go a long way in building confidence.
4. Brand Protection
Protect your brand on the Internet by
selecting the right domain name—it will have a lifelong impact on
bringing in traffic and in turn, success. With almost 100 million domain
names already in use, finding an unused name that is unique to your
business can be difficult. Choose a domain name that is logical,
memorable and easy to type. Keep an eye on the future.
Book your domain name across different options such as .com, .in, .org, and even the new name options such as .guru or .photography (depending on the business you are in). Then make sure that they all redirect to your official domain. This will ensure your name is protected.
5. Marketing and communication
A website can become your number one marketing tool since it allows you to share information, communicate with customers and display testimonials. The right keywords will help ensure your website performs well on the SEO front, making it more visible to customers. Food delivery services such as Spoonjoy.com and Freshmenu.com are great examples of businesses that are effectively using their websites to market and communicate.
6. Product education and awareness
Your website is the best place to host product demos, trials and manuals that customers can access and share. It is also convenient to share links on social media or email as required. For example, Greentech Life, a Bangalore-based seller of ‘smart’ dustbins that simplify composting, uses its website to educate customers on correct way to compost.
7. Cost saving
If you think the cost of building a website is a deterrent, consider the opportunity cost of not having a website. A website allows you to effectively use digital media for advertising that generates traffic on the website. Not only is online advertising cheaper than print media, it is also far more effective. Building your own professional website is not difficult.
A website with a custom domain name costs as little as Rs. 99 a month. There are web-based platforms and technologies that help you build your own website. As a small business working to build your digital presence, building a website may seem like an overwhelming task. However, the truth is, building a website is the single most useful investment that you will make to help grow your business. And the sooner you do it, the better.
Article “why a website is a must for your business” published in ET Wealth. The writer is Rajiv Sodhi, Vice-President, GoDaddy, India and Australia