The Importance of Having a Website
|Written by Renee C. Quinn
B.S. Pennsylvania State University
M.B.A. University of Phoenix
Posted: February 1, 2008 @ 4:24 pm
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How often do you search in the online yellow pages for a particular business, only to find that they do not have a website? How often do members of the business community hand you a business card with an email address @yahoo.com or the like? In today’s business world it is amazing to see just how many businesses still do not have a web presence.
A website is a fairly inexpensive business tool that serves a purpose for both you and your clients. For you, it is a fairly inexpensive way to advertise. Obtaining an appropriate domain name for your business does not cost very much any more. In fact, you can obtain a domain name from Register.com for $35 per year. You can even obtain domain names for less at other places, but beware because when you pay less than $35 per year you are almost certainly going to be tied into a long term webhosting service contract as well. You may also want to give GoDaddy.com a try as well. IPWatchdog.com has used both services. GoDaddy tends to be cheaper, but in our experience Register.com is easier to use.
Once you have the domain name it can be yours forever, as long as you keep your registration current, but now you are going to need a webhosting provider. We have had some good experiences and bad experiences over the years with webhosting providers, having been with Earthlink, Yahoo and Ipower to name a few. We are presently using Glowhost and we have been quite happy with them. They have plans starting as low as $4.99 per month. You can find webhosting services for less, but make sure you check customer satisfaction by doing a Google search.
Once you have a website you can list your website address on your business cards, flyers and pamphlets, bulletin boards and even the company sign that you have hanging on the side of your building. In fact, you can save money on these other marketing tools by having a website. For example, you can feature an electronic version of your catalog on your website, with no limit on size. You can describe all of your products and services in greater detail because space on your website is significantly less expensive then full color print. And what happens if you need to make a change, such as if you delete or add products or services? Are you going to reprint all of your printed marketing materials? On a website, you have the ability to make the necessary changes at no additional costs.
For your clients, they will have the convenience of reading about your company and the services and products you offer on their own time. In today’s world, people lead very busy lives when you consider the commitment of their careers and family. By having a well presented website, you lend yourself to the convenience of your clients. They can come to you when they want to. If you add a “Contact Us” link onto your website, it allows your customers to contact you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can drive traffic to your site to learn all about your company and what you have to offer. Your clients can get a much better idea about your business because you can feature multiple pages on your site with greater details about the different aspects of your company, products and services. You can even provide directions to your place of business, making it easier for customers to find you.
By having a web presence, you expand your market significantly. You make yourself available to people in other time zones and even across the globe rather than the limited market audience you can reach in your local geographical area. And at a fraction of the cost! With a website there is less need to send out expensive mailings to purchased mail lists that are often unreliable. Even those mailings that do make it to the target audience are thrown away without ever being looked at.
Internet advertising is more targeted to a specific audience. The clients who visit your website are there because they have a specific interest in your company’s product or service, which you can use to your advantage. You can allow customers or potential customers to sign up for a newsletter or sales flyer, which you can send to them via e-mail. By collecting e-mail addresses from willing visitors to your website you can stay in contact with them without having to pay for printing or postage. At IPWatchdog, we use GraphicMail.com to help us maintain our e-mail subscription list and to send newsletters. There are other services you can use, such as Constant Contact, which is very popular. GraphicMail.com is less expensive, but they do not offer the number of features that Constant Contact does. Another advantage of Constant Contact is they offer a free trial. If you are an computer novice, Constanct Contact would likely be a better choice because it is an all in one solution.
The morale of the story is this – whether you are a small business owner, inventor, entrepreneur, artist, author, musician or band, you need a website. In the world we live in increasingly people are turning to the Internet to find information, and if you don’t have a presence on the Internet you will not only be making it more difficult for people to find you, but you will be sending the wrong message.