Why Do We Need a Website?
Recently I was requested to pay a sales call on a prospective client (by another associate) and included in my sales call was a request to sell the prospect on why they actually need a website. That’s right, there are still companies and organizations that don’t have websites and don’t know why they would need them.
So this organization has never had a website?
Perhaps there was a site once, back in the early days of the Internet – a page designed by Uncle Joe’s nephew, Jebadiah (who subsequently graduated high school and became involved in other pursuits). The company’s web page, of course, was neglected almost from the instance of its birth. Soon, the e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers listed on it no longer worked. Finally, the domain name expired and the forgotten site just literally disappeared. “Well, I think we had a website once,” says the prospective client. “But I don’t think we ever got any business from it.”
Well, isn’t it obvious why you would need a website?
Actually it isn’t that obvious to a business owner unless you use the “everyone has one” philosophy. I suspect that many companies cannot actually tell you the specific purposes of their website – what their site accomplishes – what type of visitation it has – what kind of results it gets – and what can be added as their business grows and changes.
But these questions really help you start identifying why you do need a website. A website should be a reflection and extension of an existing business and/or business model. That is IT, in its simplest form. There are lots of functions that websites can do, but the main reason to have a website is that you are adding a great marketing and technology teammate to your business team, and it is a teammate that will be a key part of your business from this point on.
OK – seems like every organization needs a website – are websites the same for every industry?
I think every website has, as its primary aim, accurately reflecting and presenting the company or organization. But each industry has different functions that the website will provide, and each industry (if not business) may be looking for different results (also called “conversions”) from its site. These aims are generally discussed and established during the design phase of your website. The Real Estate Industry, for instance, uses websites to promote Realtors and to list houses for sale. Obviously, there are other areas of focus within a Realtor’s website, but these are the primary functions. If a web visitor decides to actually tour the house, they will contact the Realtor via phone, e-mail, or tour request, and the game is afoot. The website has performed its job – delivering a potential buyer for the house that is for sale.
As another example, for an online store the name of the game is to establish the store brand, provide products for the shopper to browse, and then to ultimately sell a product and create a repeat customer. The aim of the retail site is to sell product – but keep in mind a visitor may come to the store three times before making a purchase – so the shop must be well presented and use strong online marketing to ensure a potential sale. Keeping these processes in mind will result in more traffic for your site and better results for your organization.
A few extra key points as to why you need a website…
• Your company’s primary brand and marketing vehicle…
Make no mistakes about it – your website is a marketing vehicle. Its aim is to promote your brand, highlight your services and products, and produce a positive result from a web visitor. The website is there to attract business, reinforce existing business, and provide functionality for existing clients. But first and foremost it is a statement about your company. And today more than ever it is a visual commercial representation of your company.
• Your organization’s most controlled (and best) word of mouth vehicle…
There are several ways a new prospect will find out about your business, and one of them is “word of mouth” – which many business folks still believe to be the strongest form of referral. Today when someone refers your organization, most likely the referral will point them directly to your website (unless your website is awful). A great looking website will immediately reinforce the referral, and most likely will produce a direct call or contact. Once you have a professional website, it will make it easier for people to refer you to their friends and associates — after all, it’s far easier for someone to tell you a website address (assuming it’s fairly easy to remember) than to tell you a company’s physical location or phone number.
• Your organization’s best salesman (and one that doesn’t ask for lunch breaks)…
A website provides a permanent salesman for any size organization. By simply taking the process of an organization’s sales model, and then applying it to its website, you will end up with a website that will lead to direct buying (e-commerce) or direct contact of a sales team member. When a visitor goes to your website, they get the “feel” from the look of the site (hopefully liking what they see), then usually head to the “About” page to learn a little about the company or maybe to the FAQ for some frequently asked questions direct from the sales team. If they like what they see and read there, it’s just a simple click to the “Contact Us” page, and badda bing, badda boom – the sales process has been initiated by your website!
• Key Information ranging from services details to your office location & key company staff…
When I go to a website to check on a company, I like to check out their company staff and find out who I am working with, who are the key players. This kind of information is very valuable on a website, as it immediately helps you get a feel for the organization. Additional info might be your office address, contact numbers, e-mail addresses, hours of operation, and driving directions (possibly linking to Mapquest or Google Maps). Once this information is set up, it will generally not change. It sure can save your clients and prospects valuable time – and can even save your staff taking calls from people asking some of these general questions.
• Being online will make your organization competitive in the 21st century…
Last but not least. When a prospect is looking for a place for a service or product, and they don’t know you, they will go to a search engine more often these days than not. They may be on their computer – they may be on their phone or mobile unit – but there is no denying people search the Internet more and more ever day. Having a website puts you in the hunt for new business. It doesn’t guarantee it, but it does give you a fighting chance. And the better developed your website is, the higher your website will rank in search engine key words. You can also use services such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that can help improve rankings. You could even be a listed sponsor on a search engines for very little cost – so the key point is when you are online you are competing with others for business – new business.
In hindsight I think the question of “Why do we need a website” – is a great one that should be asked by every website owner at the start of a new design project and thereafter on an annual basis. Your website needs to be a living breathing member of your corporate team and like every other member of the team the website needs to have clear missions and focus. And annually just like an employee – your website should be reviewed with new missions established based on your business and its future aims.
And as technology continues to grow and your business and its clients mature and change your website will most likely play an even greater role for your company in the 21st century.