Creating a website can open up opportunities for your business in many different ways. The website can act as an informational portal for both existing and prospective customers. It can function as a billboard designed to bring in and convert new leads. It can be used to produce a community adjacent to your product. The website can be your virtual store, and your marketing tool. You can use it to analyze trends, identify pricing issues, track and report on your marketing campaigns and coupons. A website can truly be a one size fits all tool for many of the needs of your business.
Perfect Marketing Data – Most people know that going online is a way to make your site accessible to the world. I want to focus on the other benefits that a website gives you compared to a brick and mortar business. With a website you have perfect tracking of your advertising efforts. Every click-through on a Google Ad or Facebook Ad is logged and accounted. If you are using other advertising such as TV, direct mail, billboards, and magazines then in many cases you have less accurate numbers on the effectiveness of your campaign. You could have a coupon which could be tracked but your customers don’t always use them. It is also possible that your campaign does not lend itself towards tracking using coupons. If you go purely off of coupon use then your numbers could be skewed and you may end up cancelling what was an effective campaign because many campaigns have effective tangential benefits even if the customer is not entering a coupon code. Having perfect data allows you to make profitable decisions about where to spend your marketing dollars.
“If you build it they will come” – Generate content that your market thinks is interesting and they will come to your site in droves. Creating a successful blog is as simple as writing material that you are interested in. An hour-a-week investment can translate into a great deal of money by bringing your customers back to your site. Your blog can become a source of trusted advice for many consumers. Also, businesses with blogs are viewed as more transparent by their customers, thereby earning respect and loyalty.
Determine optimal pricing. In a brick and mortar store you rarely have a good sense of whether or not customers are sensitive to a price. They simply don’t buy. In an online store, by posting the price on the product page and not the summary page, you can determine the interest vs the conversion of the product and speculate on price sensitivity or other content reasons which affect conversions.
24x7x365 Cashier – Brick and Mortar stores spend a large amount of money on payroll and have the potential to deal with irresponsible or erratic employees, schedule conflicts, personal issues, vacation, and weather. An online store or business is open and ready to service at all times without the overhead of having someone man the register.
Appearance Control – While you may not be able to afford as elaborate of a brick and mortar storefront as FAO Schwartz, you can certainly have a website that looks just as professional as Amazon. In a brick and mortar for luxury items you may want granite floors and marble columns, which are very expensive. On a website, design is just images. For merely hours of design service you can achieve whatever look want.
Business Opportunities – By creating affiliate accounts for your product or service, you can have online marketers market your site for you. This creates free opportunities to reach audiences you may not have otherwise reached. Also, having an online presence may be the gateway to a symbiotic relationship with other businesses which would have never occurred to you.
Email Marketing – Whiteboard-IT can build in automated emails into your application in order to send out coupon deals, newsletters, etc; All designed to bring customers back to your site. Email is free and extremely cost-effective, especially for double opt-in list. We can show you how to build and utilize these lists.
Social Tie Ins – Social sites like Facebook, Digg, and Twitter provide mechanisms for sharing your products and services with friends and other sources on the web. This is similar to word of mouth. However, with word of mouth, many times a purchase is not talked about. With “likes” and “shares” you may see that one of your close friends “liked” an item that you distribute. This immediately establishes trust with those customers and assigns additional value to your product. Also, the potential exposure for a single “like” or “share” can easily be thousands of people.
No Inventory – Inventory is no longer a concern. Brick and motors often have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory. This represents a huge investment and comes with a certain amount of risk. Insurance is typically needed to reduce the risk of a flood, fire, burglary, and shoplifting. These problems do not exist with online stores. With a website, you can simply drop-ship your product directly from the manufacturer.
Real Time Chat or Email Support – With a brick and motor, customer support is virtually guaranteed to occupy all of a single person’s concentration, because the customer is either there in front of you in the store or they are on the phone. Email and chat support allow one capable person to service many request at a time. Phone support certainly has its place. However, on a cost perspective, it can’t compete. Many people prefer email support over having to be on hold for a half hour, in addition to the ancillary benefit of having a written record of the interaction.
Better “Print” Materials – Print materials have their place. However, the equivalent on the web is much cheaper to produce and update. Print materials have to be tested on the printer to make sure the colors come out intact. You also have the expense of the printed materials. With a graphic on a website it simply needs to be updated in order to change the message or campaign. With printed materials, uncaught misspellings live forever and untimely-caught misspellings are costly to change.
When all these things are considered, going online is an extremely cost-effective venture. All enhancements are extremely beneficial when compared to the real-world equivalent. When considering website development, consider this: The cost of the website is typically no more than a single point-of-sale terminal in your brick and mortar business. Can you afford to choose anything less then the best when making such a critical step for your business? When quality and experience is so affordable can you afford not to be well-represented on the web?