Does your business still need a website or is it enough to simply have a social media presence?
It’s a question we’ve been asked a lot recently, especially by businesses who are just starting out at a time when budgets are understandably tight.
Social media is undoubtedly an important part of any company’s marketing mix; finding the channel your target audience uses most, and using it to share a regular stream of fresh, interesting or insightful content can be hugely effective in netting you brand visibility and, potentially, sales.
Almost half of the world’s population (45%) now uses social media, and that figure’s growing every day. Add to that the fact that more than half of those people use social media to research products, and it’s clear that businesses who don’t use social media at all are seriously missing out.
But can you cover all your bases on social media alone? In a nutshell, no. Here are the four biggest reasons why having a company website is still crucial to building a successful business.
Anyone can set up a company page on social media; it costs absolutely nothing and can be done instantly. But that’s just the problem; anyone can do it – and that takes away much of its credibility as your sole marketing tool. You don’t really know who’s behind a social media page. You don’t know where they’re based, how long they’ve been established or whether they’re even real.
On the other hand, not just ‘anyone’ can set up a website. There’s always a cost involved, and you have to be fairly serious about your business to invest in that cost. That’s why having a website makes you look far more credible. People are more likely to trust and engage with you. In fact, 84% of today’s consumers think a website makes a business more credible than those who rely on social media profiles alone, and 30% won’t even consider buying from a business without a website.
Having your own website also gives you full control over your brand message, whereas you have very little control over a social media page. For a start, you don’t own it; the social media provider does. You’re limited by what you can do, because every social media profile basically looks that same, making it very hard to differentiate yourself. Ultimately, though, it comes down to one thing - as a consumer, how comfortable would you feel investing in a product or service from a company that doesn’t have the legitimacy of a website?
Your website is the final destination in a marketing journey; it’s the place where you ultimately want your audience to end up. Every channel you use to promote your business, from social media, paid ads and search engine optimisation to promotional materials like leaflets, brochures and catalogues, should all lead people to your website. It’s the natural ‘end goal’ of all your marketing efforts, and the point at which you’ll ultimately inspire some sort of action.
In that respect, you could compare your website to a shop. Perhaps you’ve walked past that shop every day; at some point, you’ll probably go in and have a look. Maybe you’ll even buy something – if not on that visit, then probably the next. It’s the same online. We come across businesses on our social media feeds, and if they’re selling a product or service we’re interested in, we’ll visit their website for more information. If you rely purely on social media, your customers can’t take the next logical step in the sales journey.
As we progress through the digital age, our attentions spans are becoming shorter and shorter. Businesses have a much smaller window of time to get across basic information, and it’s very hard to achieve that in social media profiles or posts alone.
Every website should follow the three-second rule. Within three seconds of visiting your website, a potential customer should know who you are, what you offer, and how they can get in touch. Consumers want that immediate gratification, and if you’re not providing this information quickly or clearly, they’ll rapidly move on. If you’ve got it right, though, your website is a crucial tool for answering basic questions like these, and helping consumers get to know your brand.
We already know that around half of the world’s social media users research businesses on those channels, although the majority of them won’t necessarily be your target demographic. But what about the other half? What about the people who are actively searching online for businesses like yours on Google? If you don’t have a website, how will you rank? The answer is, you probably won’t.
Search engine optimisation is big business because every company worth their salt knows they need to be on the first few pages of Google to get noticed, and there are some critical things you have to do for that to happen. One of them, of course, is having a website in the first place. But then you also need high quality content, keywords and a whole host of off-page SEO tactics to stand a chance of reaching those coveted first two pages of search results. With social media alone, that’s never going to be achievable.
Ultimately, websites will be the number one marketing tool for any type of business, for many years to come. Combine your website with an effective social media strategy, and you’ll have the best chance of building a successful enterprise.
So what next? Think about how well your website is currently working for you; does it meet the three-second rule? Are you providing enough information on your other pages, and is it easy to read? Does it feature compelling images? Is it ranking well in Google searches?
If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to us for a free website review and we’ll show you where there’s room for improvement.
The Giant Team