It’s hard to believe, but as we entered 2020 there were still plenty of entrepreneurs and small businesses that treated their website more like a static brochure. There was nothing interactive and the pages were rarely (if ever) updated. Most of the time there was no way to do business through the website.
Uh, hello? It’s 2020 – not 1920. Most of us spend hours connected to the Internet every day – and we expect much more than a brochure when we go online.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for an attractive and quality website should be more evident than ever. When stay-at-home orders came into effect, brick-and-mortar businesses had to shut down. People have started to spend more time at home and online. And as more and more people get used to interacting with businesses of all sizes online, your website becomes more important than ever.
The future of business is digital; Stake your claim today
Whatever your niche, there’s no denying that the business is more “digital” than ever. Even decidedly non-tech industries are becoming more and more comfortable with working online.
It’s not a trend that’s going to change anytime soon. Indeed, a recent survey of vcita, a company that provides business software for small businesses, found that 33% of SMEs started offering online services for the first time during the pandemic. Around 60% of companies surveyed also indicated that online appointments now represent half (or more) of their total number of appointments.
This change was most evident among business consultants, 83% of whom said offering appointments over the phone or online was the best way to get clients to book services. Even if you are reluctant to bring your business online, others in your niche will not. Using a website to improve your uptime will be key to asserting your rights in a changing market.
For sales and fulfillment, your website is going nowhere
For service-oriented startups and SMEs, sales and fulfillment are critical to success. If you don’t have a way to market yourself (and your services) directly to your clients, you’ll go bankrupt pretty quickly.
Of course, pandemics (or other similar disasters) are unlikely. But 2020 has proven that the improbable is far from impossible. If you rely entirely on a physical location to meet clients and provide your services, you have serious problems if something happens that requires you to close your doors.
With a website, however, you can continue with “business as usual”. Your customers will always be able to reach you and you will always be able to provide them with the services they are looking for.
A website keeps customers informed, engaged and satisfied
Business is about relationships. This is especially true for service-oriented businesses. Developing a strong and trusting relationship with your customers is how you get them to stay with you for the long haul. It creates the kind of loyalty that isn’t easily swayed.
With a website, you can further strengthen these relationships by making it easy for customers to stay informed at all times. Your website is where you can post updates on your services. It provides an “always-on” resource that customers can use to contact you.
The convenience and constant availability of a website will allow you to resolve customer and executive issues much faster so that you can achieve better results.
3 quick tips to make your website as effective as possible
While a website is essential for any service provider, there’s no denying that not all websites are created equal. A few additional improvements that are often overlooked can make your website even more useful to your customers – and more likely to help you get the right results for your business.
On-site messaging portal: When customers and prospects visit your website, they may want to contact you immediately with a question or concern. A direct on-site communication portal gives them instant access to you – and a quick response will certainly improve their opinion of your services. While you can’t monitor these portals 24/7, you can enlist the help of a chatbot or virtual assistant to handle basic requests and then forward more complex issues to you.
Reservations with prepayment: Few things are more frustrating for a freelancer than trying to chase late payments. Installing a sales conversion mechanism that processes payments can make this process much smoother for you and your loyal customers. Some solutions can even process credit card payments, enabling simple, transparent (and secure) transactions right on your site.
Self-service appointment booking: Filling your calendar with meetings and calls can be time consuming. Fortunately, you can get around this problem by adding self-service appointment booking right to your website. These plugins can connect to your work calendar so customers can see the hours available for phone calls, Zoom meetings, or in-person consultations. This allows them to find a mutually open schedule and saves you from having to manually schedule each appointment and update your calendar yourself.
It’s time to go all-in on your website
Even if your freelance or solopreneurial work isn’t particularly tech-savvy, you still need to embrace a website in our not quite post-pandemic world. Of course, this requires a small investment. But it ultimately makes it much easier for potential customers to discover and reach you.
Give your website the attention he deserves, and it will provide corresponding results.