Does my business need a website in 2011?

One word: ABSOLUTELY!

The Internet trend watching site, eMarketer quoted an Ad-ology survey conducted earlier this month that reveals some rather alarming numbers: 46% of small and medium business owners did not have a website in 2009. Another study conducted by VistaPrint found that only about 50% of small business owners that have a website are actually tracking their online marketing efforts! And the icing on the cake is a study from a Discover Small Business Watch Poll that corroborates Ad-ology’s survey results and goes on to state that a lot of small and medium business owners perceive the need for a website for their business as a “myth”.

This begs the question: As a small or medium business owner, what are you losing out on if you don’t have your own website?

The answer is very clear: Customers!

Come on folks! We have already started year 2011. People are no longer using the (actual) yellow pages or phone books to look for information. The three major search engines are serving up local search results even when a search does not include a local or geographical qualifier. The bottom line: Small and Medium businesses need web presence that they can directly influence and control.

There are many ways for you to establish web presence. Of course, you can go Yelp or use other social media websites such as Merchant Circle and get a “listing” but always remember, you don’t control any of these. You have zero say on how they will allow you to connect with customers. It is better than nothing… but sadly it is still not enough.

Your very own website gives you the ability to:
-Provide information and details about your products and services to people all over the world
-Set yourself apart from your competition, especially if they don’t have a website
-Become visible to the growing population that rely solely on the internet for information
-Harness the power of social media and social websites, the new word of mouth
-Properly and effectively leverage local search results from search engines
-Establish yourself as an authority with your customers and within your industry
-Build credibility with your customers by sharing information about your company
-Build and create your own community (social network)
-Leverage email marketing by building an email list and using that to market to potential clients

Before you jump on the website bandwagon, take the time to identify why you need a website. Remember, not all small businesses have the same “web presence” goals. Whether you want to simply promote your idea, sell products and services or build an online community, give it serious thought and plan your web presence goals.

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