"Why should I take my business online?" It's a common question asked by many solopreneurs and small business owners such as yourself.
The fact is sales and marketing has changed. Gone are the days when advertising your business on TV, Radio and the Yellow Pages are enough.
You may think of bringing your business online as a complicated, overwhelming, intimidating process. But, there are significant benefits to the future viability of your business, as you're about to learn.
10 Crucial Reasons To Take
Your Business Online
Prospects Do Research Online First
70-80% Of People Research A Small Business Before Visiting Or Making A Purchase (Blue Corona).
Most successful small businesses understand that customers research a company before feeling confident about purchasing their products or services.
This is usually done by doing a simple search in Google or Bing, checking out your website and social media profiles, then reading the reviews left by other customers.
Consider the following quote from Spencer Spinnell, Director of Emerging Platforms at Google.
While 97% of purchases decisions start on the internet... less than 6% are happening on the Internet.
Director of Emerging Platforms at Google
Essentially, what Spinnell is stating here is that although the vast majority of sales still do occur offline (in the real world), the buying process begins online.
It Allows People To Find You
More and more people are heading to search engines to find products and services in their local area. For example, they'll search for "roof repair services near me".
By not taking your business online, your missing out on these potential customers. When someone searches online in this way, they have "buyers intention". Meaning that there's a high probability or degree of willingness and inclination to buy a product or service.
Having your business appear in the search engine results for such searches is a good strategy. That's why optimizing your online content through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be part of your digital marketing strategy.
It Improves the Image of Your Business
Without some sort of presence online (via social media, a blog, a website... preferably a website), prospects may wonder how serious or professional you are about your business.
Having a website gives your business instant credibility, customers are more likely to trust your business when they land on your professional website.
Bottom line is.... you need to have an online presence because your prospects and customers expect you to have one.
Customers may prefer to visit your website to find out about your products and services, instead of visiting you in person. They will also expect to see your website address and your email on business cards and other promotional materials.
Your competitors are doing it, so should you.
Your Business Runs 24/7
Taking your business online allows you to have a business that is operational 24/7.
Effective & Efficient Customer Support
Technology and the Internet allows you to interact with, and be more responsive to your prospects, customers and clients.
For example, once you know or can anticipate typical questions or objections that customers have you can create the right type of content, such as video tutorials, knowledgebases, FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) to answer the questions and overcome objections.
This type of content also helps potential customers make an informed buying decision.
This sort of efficiency and responsiveness is much harder and time-consuming in a purely offline environment.
This means fewer phone calls with technical questions and more sales.
There are 4.72 billion internet users in the world today. And that number continues to grow.
The main benefit online businesses have is the liberty of having the total available market at their disposal, and not just the local town or country. Let the whole world know about your product/service.
Compare that to just the hundreds or probably thousands that exists in your local area and have access to your offline store.
Taking your business online opens the opportunity for people all over the world to become aware of your product and services. Imagine the possibilities for growth.
It Gives You Geographical Freedom
If you move your business fully online, then it allows you to run your business from anywhere in the world.
Of course it would be prudent to ensure that you become aware of country-specific rules and regulations.
You'll Save Time and Money
With a traditional brick and mortar store, your physical presence is needed, which means that your time is needed.
Added to that, there are the costs related overheads - salaries, rent, utilities, etc.
Compare that to an online business, where there is no rent, no utilities, and with the right structure and automation systems in place, your business is always open to take orders and follow up with prospects and customers. Staff numbers can be reduced, thus office space and related office expenses.
Really, by making use of B2B service providers, you can take all aspects of your business online, such as purchasing, billing, order fulfillment, and shipping. Other functions can include pre-emptive customer service—such as answering client questions via a FAQ section or a customer forum.
Further, marketing online can be more cost-effective than traditional methods such as radio and TV.
Access to Valuable Information
With the help of online analytics tools, you can gain important information to how your visitors and customers interact with your website.
Other tools allow you to have real-time tracking of product inventory and efficient inventory management.
This information can be used to improve your business for greater profitability. For example, you can offer personalized experience to customers based on previous interactions and buying habits.
Scaling Your Business
With all that has been said above - having your business running 24/7 and open to a global audience - what it means in effect is that you'll be able to scale and grow your business faster than ever.
Offline, you have limited scalability due to space, infrastructure and budget.
So, if you're on the fence about getting your business online, then it's time for change.
Are you a solopreneur or small business owner who has already taken your business online? What other benefits have you realized?