Why have a website?

When I asked ‘google’ this question, I received 1.3 billion results, clearly showing that a lot of people, articles and blogs have already addressed this topic, with the general consensus being that it is absolutely necessary.  And yet, in South Africa, I am still often not able to find a website for a company.

South Africa is now rated the 24th biggest for internet use with an incredible 14% growth over the last year (over 3 million users coming online in one year).

Cheap or free Wi-Fi is also slowly being made more readily available in South Africa, with suburbs, airports, libraries, coffee shops and most recently on minibus taxis offering the service. More information can be found here .

  1. Free WIFI sites can be found here http://www.findfreewifi.co.za/
  2. City of Tswane WIFI initiative http://projectisizwe.org/
  3. Taxi initiative http://www.southafrica.info/business/trends/newbusiness/taxi-wifi-130614.htm#.VHNLj4uUdic
  4. Free WIFI for SA initiative http://www.techcentral.co.za/anc-promises-sa-free-wi-fi/45830/

Clearly South Africans are becoming more and more active online.  If you are without an internet presence, this will start to affect your business, your income and your profitability.  Here are some reasons why:

  1. Client Behaviour and Perception

People’s habits are changing; more and more people are looking for special deals, services and products on-line than ever before.  This applies to Consumers and B2B alike.

People expect that any professionally run business will have a web site and a lack of one could see potential customers going to your opposition who has a website.

I will often look up a person or company on the web before making a final purchase or hire decision, a lack of online presence, poor quality or a stagnant website will affect my decision.

  1. Accessibility

A website is available 24/7/365 providing your customers with the convenience of reviewing your products and services when your shope or office is closed. With today’s busy lifestyles, consumers will use free time to look around online before making purchasing decisions.

The Internet gives everyone access, targeting no one in particular. The Internet user chooses where to look, just as they choose what newspaper to buy or what television program to watch. If your business is not there, you risk instantly losing that client.

  1. Marketing

A well-designed website becomes a great place to showcase your work. By including your portfolio,  or image gallery, as well as testimonials about your work, you can demonstrate what makes your business unique.

Many business owners still view their business as a totally offline entity, pursuing traditional means to promote themselves and win new customers. However, regarding any business as purely offline is a risky strategy to take when your customers are spending more and more of their time online.  (These principles apply from the largest enterprise to the sole trader, or anything in between)

A website is a marketing and communication tool that belongs to you. You control it and you can use it continually. It is a company asset similar to a telephone.

  1. Community/Information Sharing

Having a website enables you to enter into a dialogue with existing or potential customers. You can use surveys, questionnaires and feedback forms to engage and communicate with your customers.

A web site is like your giant public bulletin board where people can get information on how to find you, where you are located, what you have to offer, why your service is unique, and what’s new in your company. It also is easily updated and is a communication forum through which your customers can communicate back to you with questions, concerns and feedback on their needs.

In summary, harnessing the web as a business tool is important. Big impact does not have to mean big budget when it comes to the web, it is about being relevant, consistent and accessible online.