In 2011, the percentage of customers that went online to find local businesses was 59%. Guess what the number is now, a whopping 97%! Why? Because, online presence has become a means to advertise businesses, establish relationships with clients and customers, provide relevant information about the business, amongst other benefits. And the quest of business owners, to possess strong online presence has led to the constant creation of websites for businesses.
Let’s go down history lane a bit: after the invention of the Telephone in the late 19th century, there was a massive growth in the use of telephones in the subsequent century, which led to business owners taking charge of the opportunity to advertise their businesses on telephone directories. With the invention of the internet later, there was a shift from telephone directories to the World Wide Web where information was gotten way easier and faster than telephone directories. Since then, there has been a massive increase in the number of internet users all over the world, which confirms the one fact we know to be accurate;
THE INTERNET HAS TAKEN OVER.
With a great number of people using the internet, most services are created now, with more focus on internet users. Why all these historical talks? It’s simple; history has confirmed that an online presence is necessary for present businesses. That is, if you want to grow your business, there should be a relationship between your business and internet users (who are a great percentage of the world) in the form of an online presence. And a website is one of the best and most common means to achieve an online presence.
This brings us to the big question: Is a website necessary for your business? Let’s find out.
Studies have shown that between 70%-80% of people research a company online before patronizing that company and a website is the most popular source of relevant information about a company, which means that a website helps customers check out the credibility of a business.
Also, websites have been confirmed as a means for companies and businesses to get discovered on the internet. That is, when a type of business or service is looked up on the internet, options pop up, and most of them are through the websites of those companies or businesses.
Features like answers to frequently asked questions, advertisement of goods available and services rendered, etc. are also advantages of a website, as those features help build a solid relationship with customers which goes a long way in boosting your business.
Furthermore, the different social media platforms and the shift of interest within these different platforms have gradually rendered social media an unreliable form of online presence for a business. For example, in 2019, Facebook dropped to the third most-visited website after being overtaken by YouTube as the second most-visited website. Also in 2019, there was a reduction from 71% of American teens who used the platform in 2016 to 50%. This proves that there has been a shift of interest from Facebook to other social media platforms, which confirms the fact that; businesses need a more reliable form of an online presence than social media platforms, like a website.
Looking at things from a contrary perspective, Websites perform a variety of functions which are all results of providing an online presence and while it may seem like the Websites are the best form of an online presence factors like cost, management, lack of engagement, etc. would make you think differently.
Since a reliable online presence is the goal, a substitute of a combination of different other means of an online presence can subtly replace the need for a website. That is, the use of business listings on online directories combined with the use of all the available social media platforms can provide sufficient online presence. Though options of available goods or services are not fully explained or provided with those means, the use of a call to action attached to those means will link the customers to your business. For example, adding a ‘call this line for further inquiries’ or ‘send a message to this number to make an order’, will help the customers reach out to your business. Blogs can also be combined with another means of online presence to provide sufficient online presence. You see, there is always a way out.
So, regarding the question in focus; why an online presence is necessary for your brand, the answer depends on you.
You can also find out how to build an influential brand by clicking here.