Is your Lac du Bonnet business missing out on sales because you don’t have a website, or is your website not doing the job it should be doing? Chances are, the answer to that question is yes.
COVID has changed the way we do business. Our customers are smarter, more capable, and better informed than ever. Businesses with a website available to support their customers’ needs have made it through the past year of shutdowns and reduced occupancy limits better than those that weren’t online for their customers.
The Lac du Bonnet Community Development Corporation has a new service to help local small businesses get online with a professionally designed website. Together we will work through the design process, teaching you as we go, and we’ll take care of the basic technical requirements that can be confusing or overlooked to make sure your website-building process is a breeze. In the end, you will walk away with a shiny new website and the knowledge and confidence to maintain and grow your website as your business grows.
But I have Facebook, isn’t that good enough?
Having a Facebook page is not a replacement for your website. It is a marketing tool that should work in connection with your website. Posts that you create for Facebook, or other social media platforms, should direct people to your website, where you have complete control over the user experience. The reality is that Facebook displays tiny snippets of your business through posts, and users will have to scroll through many posts to get the full picture of your business. With a website, you can give them the entire story, leading your customers along the way to a sale or a lead.
Facebook probably isn’t the only marketing tool you use to promote your business. You have business cards and flyers. Advertise in the local newspaper or magazines. Maybe you even attend craft sales and trade shows as part of your marketing mix and sales funnels. How do you bring all of your efforts together without one central connecting piece, a.k.a. a website?
Your website is the central hub of your marketing efforts and your sales funnel.
Your website is the front door of your business and is often the first place customers will find you; therefore, the first impression customers, or potential customers, will have with your business. You wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation, would you? Your website is the foundation that every other piece of marketing and promotion content you produce rests upon.
- Do you use business cards, brochures, postcards, or flyers to promote your business?
- How about advertising in the newspaper, local magazine, or restaurant publications?
- What trade shows, craft sales, and farmer’s markets have you attended to promote yourself and make sales?
- Are you using social media marketing, video marketing, Google Ad Words, or display advertising?
- Now ask yourself this: What happens when the shows are over, the marketing material you’ve delivered is placed in the recycle bin, or the digital marketing ad has been clicked?
These materials and methods of promoting yourself should surround a central hub – your website, where people can go to learn more about you and make purchases from you long after the promotional material is gone. Not to mention, running effective digital advertising without a website is nearly impossible.
But my customers aren’t computer savvy.
Now, that’s just nonsense, and we all know it. There are 33 million internet users in Canada, with an internet usage penetration rate of 87.4%. Canadian internet users spend an average of 40.5 hours a week online, and 29.8 million internet users are mobile phone internet users.
What does this data tell us? Simply put, if you’re not online, you’re missing out. Your customers are online, and they expect you to be there too. In today’s digital-savvy world, customers want to find information about you quickly and easily. As consumers, we want information on demand, and if we can’t find your information online, we’re moving on to your competitor’s websites.
This data is also a good indication that your website must be mobile-friendly, as more and more users take to their smartphones and tablets to search online. Web designers build websites for mobile-first, then make sure that it still looks good on desktop. If you have a website that is more than five years old, it is time for an update because it probably isn’t mobile-friendly.
Here are some more interesting stats about online users:
- 63% of consumers use a company’s website to engage with a business – that’s a sizeable chunk of your customers.
- 93% of online experiences begin with a query in a search engine, and when users are researching a solution to their problem, they will visit a minimum of three sources before making a purchase decision.
- Your website should be the most important source they find, as 30% of people automatically strike a business from consideration if they don’t have a website. That’s a lot of business to lose.
But websites are expensive, and I don’t have the budget.
Well, that depends on who is doing the work and what you need your website to do for your business. A website can cost anywhere from $100 (with do-it-yourself building) to upwards of $100,000 with professional web developers. In Manitoba, the average cost of hiring a website designer to build a basic website for your business is $2,500. The price varies depending on the number of pages you will need, how much customization you require, and the type of content on your website.
There are immeasurable benefits to working with a design company to create your website. When you hire a designer, you hire them for their skills and expertise. They will take care of your website and provide the following:
- Web Design Functions, including themes, domains, hosting, mobile-friendly design, and website apps for your desired functionality.
- SEO setup, including keyword research and integration into your site, internal and external links, submission to search engines, meta tags, meta-descriptions, titles and tagging.
- Content creation of images, copy and calls to action for your web pages.
- Online store development for your e-commerce store and shopping cart.
- Back-end setup like establishing Google Analytics, submitting your site map, creating your Google My Business Account, and setting up Google Search Console.
- Maintenance, which includes monthly maintenance to make sure your site stays in tip-top shape, content updates and revisions, as well backing up all the content on the website.
- Consultations and training sessions to teach you how to add content yourself.
Even the most basic of websites can take 50 or more hours to get up and running; the more functionality you need from your site, the more time it takes to develop.
You shouldn’t let the cost of working with a designer prevent you from having a website. Even if you are a one-person operation with a limited budget and online savvy, be present online with a website, even a simple one-pager. You can always invest in upgrading your website later when you have a better cash flow.
The most affordable option is to build your website using the abundance of user-friendly interfaces available. In a nutshell, you can have a website up and running for as little as $100 and building the site can be about as easy as working with a Word document. The trade-off for this less expensive route is that you have to do the work yourself.
There are many options out there that provide easy, DIY website design tools and templates to work with. Not all design platforms are created equal, but here are two options that we have worked with in the past.
WordPress is the most used design platform out there. Creating a self-hosted WordPress site is our preferred method of website building. There are a few extra steps involved, but the trade-off is the ability to create completely customizable websites that go from simple one-page designs to larger sites like ours. Using this method, you will own your website and be able to create pretty much whatever you can dream up. WordPress is a free and open-source content management system.
Squarespace is another option and is great for beginners. It is easy to use, with drag-and-drop functionality built into the design platform. There are a number of features and templates available to choose from, but they are not as robust as building a WordPress site. The other trade-off is businesses typically do not own their own website on Squarespace, as space is leased. Squarespace pricing starts at $12 USD a month.
Okay, but I don’t know anything about building a website.
That’s where the Lac du Bonnet CDC can help, removing the last barrier you face when setting up your business website. Our Economic Development Officer has been building websites for over ten years, and we want to help get you online with support and training to get your website built and give you the confidence you need to manage it.
The Lac du Bonnet Online Program has been designed as a community initiative to help get our Lac du Bonnet businesses to get online with professional websites. The program will provide business owners and their staff with a combination of shared training sessions, one-on-one website design consultations, and personalized training sessions that will result in a professionally designed website. If you’re a small business owner in Lac du Bonnet, we can get you online for as little as $279 plus domain and hosting fees.