This weekend I was doing my marketing research and asked a new customer as I always do at the end of an interview – how did you find us? Her answer is the one that I now most commonly receive – “on the internet”. More and more customers are finding my business on the internet either by conducting a search using Google or Yahoo or using an online yellow pages search.
This customer also told me that she was looking for a pet sitting company that had a detailed web site because in her opinion having a website gave the company more credibility and meant that the company was serious about their business. This comment illustrates the power of having a web presence for your business. To compete in this computer age having a well designed web page or site affects the perception that your customers have about your business image and professionalism.
Here are my top 5 reasons for getting your business on the web:
1) Adds credibility and trust for your customers. On a website you are able to give customers information about your personal background and experience. It lets them get to know you before you even meet. You also have the space to highlight customer testimonials which add social proof to the claims that you make about your service quality and professionalism.
2) Allows you to give customers more information about your business policies and rate structures. On a web site you can give a full explanation what they can expect from working with your service (or product).
3) Sets you apart from other businesses that are listed in the traditional or online yellow pages or other service locators. Many of the other pet businesses that you compete with for space in the phone book or online directories will not have a detailed web page. Having a site that gives them more information about you and your business makes them more comfortable working with you and gives you a competitive advantage.
4) Gives you a way to add value to your business by offering visitors to your site free information and tips or even a free report that is relevant to your service or product. On my site I offer to give clients a pre-travel checklist to ensure that they leave home prepared. I also have articles on my site that give visitors seasonal pet care tips. You could offer articles on the latest pet trends, a report on what to look for in a good groomer, or free puppy training tips.
5) Can be a low cost form of marketing as long as you choose the right website design and hosting service – or set up the site yourself (it’s not as hard as you may think!). If you set up your site to be optimized with keywords such as the city that you serve and the type of service, customers that do all their business online will be able to find you easily through search engines and online directories. You can setup and host a website for less than $5 per month. My website is one of the cheapest forms of advertising that I have used, and one of the most successful.
A great ebook that will help you get started online is How to Create a Website Non-Techie Guide. This book runs you step by step through the process of getting a domain and host to designing your site and putting it online. It has video tutorials and a good list of resources and is a steal at only $7. I wish I had this guide when I set up my first site. Also check though your business association as they are beginning to offer simple to create and low cost to host sites to their members.