What Should a Small Business Website Do For Customers?

When it comes to their websites, many small businesses may be lagging behind consumers' expectations for them, and some companies may not have them at all. However, taking the time to understand what people generally want out of this kind of online portal is a great way for companies to increase their customer engagement and potentially generate greater success going forward.

One of the biggest reasons to have a website, for example, is so that people have a place to turn when they are curious about the kinds of products or services a company offers, or have questions about the enterprise itself, according to a report from Business 2 Community. This can help them to comparison shop, learn more, and better understand the companies that offer the things they're looking for. However, many small business sites are relatively bare-bones, offering little more than some general information, an address, and a phone number. But, that generally means that consumers can only get in contact with companies during business hours, but that's simply not how the world operates any more, and in turn, that could lead to greater customer frustration and a loss of revenues. The larger amount of information that is available on a small business website, the more likely a consumer may be to patronize the company in question.

Having a well-built and comprehensive website can also help to grow a business because it allows consumers from outside the company's immediate geographic area to potentially make purchases with it, the report said. Getting to that point, of course, involves some website building efforts that include optimizing for search engines, and so on, which can be a time-consuming process at first. However, once this is done, companies will only need to make the occasional minor tweak in this regard to ensure that they're doing all they can to increase visibility.

In addition, the longer websites exist, the more visible they become in search engines, the report said. That, in turn, means that small businesses might need to get into this realm as soon as possible, or go through the routine SEO steps that can further help the cause if they have not done so already.

Many companies worried about cost without cause
Of course, one of the biggest reasons that many companies don't have websites is that they're worried about the previously mentioned time commitment, but also the cost that they believe might come with setting up a site, the report said. While the perception is that a website can be expensive – and certainly going through specific channels to create one can stretch into the thousands of dollars – there are plenty of low-cost or even free services that can help companies set up their sites, quickly and easily. Further, hosting services can run as little as $10 per month, depending on the carrier, meaning that the price of actually maintaining the site is going to be minimal, even over the course of several years.

In addition, having a website can also help increase a company's visibility and customer engagement on social media as well, the report said. For instance, the one can be used to promote the others, and vice versa. That may help to get consumers visiting the site more heavily if they previously only followed through social channels, or signing up for updates through Facebook or Twitter if they found the site via a Web search.

Owners who remain worried about costs may want to look for ways to trim some fat from their monthly budgets, such as by finding more affordable small business insurance. Doing so – through reduced costs for liability insurance and other plans – can save thousands annually.