Does my home based business need an online presence?
Less than 50% of home based businesses in the UK have a website. The results of a recent study suggested that around 67% of consumers will search for a product or service online.
So, in answer to the question “Does my home based business need an online presence?” the answer is an absolute yes!
I don’t trade online so why do I need a website?
Just because you don’t sell your products or services online, it doesn’t mean to say that your business shouldn’t have an online presence.
Firstly, your customers expect to see you on the world wide web. Secondly, only around 10% of the web is made up of Ecommerce sites (Websites that sell products via a shopping cart). The rest are made up of websites that are primarily online to showcase what a company does or provide information on either products or services or as reference points such as Wikipedia or NHS Direct.
Whether you provide a domestic cleaning business or make homemade crafts, you need to build an online profile for your business and fast! 67% of people now buy or research products and services via the internet.
Thirdly, most consumers are now switched on to the fact that they can research and find out more information on a company online within seconds.
People want to know your hours of work, contact details and the type of service you have to offer. Not only that, more and more people like to read feedback from previous customers before they make up their mind on whether they decide to buy or not.
The old saying of any publicity is good publicity, on the whole, no longer applies to the modern world. Bad publicity or negative will usually mean a lost sale in todays world, but also on the other hand, if you are doing well, then surely your business deserves to be rewarded by giving people the opportunity to tell others!
How can this be achieved without an online profile such as a website or Facebook page.
Results of a Twitter Survey regarding consumers’ research habits
Another survey taken on the social networking website Twitter surveyed 10,000 people about their product/company research habits.
58% of people surveyed said that if they were unable to do thorough research on either a product, service or company or even all three then they would simply choose another brand or company to spend their money with citing two reasons.
Firstly, they would rather put their trust in a company that has online visibility rather than one that either doesn’t value its internet presence or secondly, the lack of an online presence was perceived that the company had something to hide such as poor customer service or product quality.
Sell products online – Ecommerce for home based businesses
With an estimated nearly £60 Billion spent online in the UK last year, if you have a home based business making or selling products, now is the time to make sure your business gets it online presence before someone else leaves you standing.
Online purchases have risen by over 14% since 2011. By 2018, it is predicted that for every £7 spent by consumers across all retail sectors, around £1 of that will be spent online.
Midlands Online Media uses the most powerful content management system available called WordPress. Originally developed as a blogging platform, over time it has now turned into a system that is capable of getting any business on to the internet and at the same time reducing the costs involved. For instance, our Ecommerce solutions start at just £200 which is an extremely low investment in order to launch an online shop and it is extremely easy for the website owner to manage their internet business.
Facebook for businesses
The power of Facebook has revolutionised the way businesses market themselves. In my opinion a Facebook business page is the absolute bare minimum that any company should have. Its a great way of interacting with your customers and best of all it is free to set up. The average Facebook user in the UK spends approximately 30 minutes every day updating their status or just checking to see what their friends are up to.
A great example of the capabilities and benefits of social media is by using my own experience on Facebook and Twitter. Last year alone I won nearly £3000 worth of orders on Facebook, just through people sharing my posts and business page. My Twitter account brought in just over £1000 worth of business in December 2013 after I ran a special discount for my Twitter followers.
There is also a paid advertising campaign that can be set up on Facebook for as little as £1 per day. You can target a specific customer base depending on location, age, sex and employment status. In Hinckley, there are over 33,000 active Facebook users between the ages of 21 and 65 years old. A maximum budget of just £5 will see your advert reach 3,600 people in your area meaning this is probably the most affordable and effective method of marketing available.
Your online reputation
So, you have your website, your Facebook page is now live and hopefully attracting new customers and followers. The final piece in the jigsaw is your online reputation. My business is currently ranked 22nd out of 15,763 web design businesses in the UK. We are the second most reputable design company in The Midlands through our customer feedback.
If you are providing a great service or supplying a quality product, surely your company deserves the recognition to help boost sales. There are many different feedback and review sites available for you to choose from but the one I have used for the past five years is call FreeIndex.co.uk.
When I first registered my company on their website, there were approximately 30,000 companies promoting their business. Now the total stands at just under 420,000. It is simple to use and above all your customers can leave you a review of your products and services in less than a minute.
Here is a quick video explaining the benefits of managing your online reputation.
With the ever decreasing costs of launching your business online, its almost impossible to ignore the fact that it is crucial to make those first steps. There are many free “build your own website templates available“, but it is also important to recognise that, when you pay a professional company build your website, you not only get a professional website, but you also get invaluable advice on how to market your business.
A professional web designer not only knows how to lay your website out, but also provides great advice and information about keeping your website safe.
I had a conversation in a Facebook forum just last night with the owner of a professional cleaning company who had a self build website but didn’t put any value on what a professional design company could offer. After constantly working and developing his website over a three year period somehow all of his work was lost and he had to pay to get a new website live as quickly as possible.
He now values his web designer as an integral part of his operation.
Totally Agree Neil, After spending three years building a web site to a stage where it was acceptable to both domestic and a commercial customer and to lose it through no fault of our own, it was a business choice to use someone that could both turn a new site round and launch it as quick as possible.
This chap is a handy addition to our business without a doubt.
– Mark Fitzmaurice – Fitz2Kleen (via Facebook)
If you are online today, there is a good chance you will still be trading tomorrow.