Keeping with the theme of planning now that summer has “officially” turned to fall, I thought it would be interesting to take a peek at some aspects of building a website. It seems that (and I kid you not) as recently as 2015 more than half of all small businesses did NOT have websites! While that number has surely dropped in the past couple of years, it still staggers the imagination for those of us who work and play in the digital space to think that some businesses have not yet made that leap. What’s holding them back? I think that for a fair amount of business owners—and this is not much of a limb for this Monkey to go out on—they simply don’t know how to get started or can’t imagine how a website could help. That’s where people like yours truly and the Barrel O’Monkeyz team come into play . . . and that’s where articles like last year’s blog post about website planning can help out. Enjoy!
It’s 2016. Do you have a website? According to a 2015 Inc. Online article, more than half of small businesses do not!
I find that number astounding, even a little hard to believe. Of course, what they consider a “small business” is quite broad. For example, one of the small businesses Inc. cited is a sausage vendor; another, a snack food vendor. Both rely heavily on local foot traffic, and each is doing quite well already and have little excess capacity to handle the increased awareness a website might bring.
Given their respective situations, their choice to opt-out of the digital marketing space makes sense—though I must admit it still seems strange for a business not to be online these days (it’s like a business 20 years ago not being listed in the Yellow Pages).
That said, what about all those other businesses that should be online but aren’t, and all those others already online but that are not getting the kind of results they want or need? What does the future hold in store for them?
Entrepreneur.com expects digital marketing investment to grow by $10 billion in 2016 compared to last year’s levels. Clearly, digital marketing is not going away. In fact, digital marketing is now considered mainstream. It’s part of the marketing mix just like TV, radio, and print.
Is Your Company Poised To Compete Digitally?
Do you have a strategy for building Apps, creating Video, going Mobile, and keeping up with ever-changing search and programming optimization requirements to support your business? What about wearable technology or even virtual reality?
While not every business needs to jump on every digital bandwagon, remember for a moment how over-the-top things such as smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter, or even YouTube seemed just 10 short years ago, things we now take for granted, things we expect the companies we frequent to be engaged in.
According to the Inc. Online article, many small business owners choose not to build an online presence because they don’t have the time, think it will cost too much, or fear their businesses will be too successful (what a great problem to have!).
I think there’s another reason business leaders choose NOT to go online. It’s a lack of understanding—of not knowing what the web could do for their businesses, of not knowing how to navigate the waters of the world wide web and thrive there.
There’s a certain amount of pride and ego involved too. Most business owners built their enterprises from the ground up. They’re successful, dynamic people. It’s daunting to be faced with having to master a whole new business expertise that’s likely outside of their comfort zones. (Just think of the acronyms we’re all bombarded with on a daily basis. From SEO to HMTL to CMS and PHP, it’s a virtual alphabet soup of terms and jargon!)
Getting It Right Is Critical
It’s given that the best business leaders tend to surround themselves with the best talent, whether that talent is in-house or external. But what might not be so obvious is that successful business leaders don’t have to know all the ins and out of digital marketing. They only need to know that “getting it right” is important, and that’s where crafting a comprehensive website plan and strategy comes into play.
Granted, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to get online, nor does it take a lot of time—just ask any middle-school or high school student. But as long-time readers of this blog know, I’m a big believer in “You get what you pay for.” Often times, if the promise of getting online cheap and reaping immediate business benefits sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Any online presence—either one built from scratch or the relaunch of an existing one—that’s not founded on a solid business strategy or one that lacks a genuine business purpose, will founder.
Making a success of your online presence requires a detailed plan that covers strategy and design; copywriting and programming; how you’ll build, implement, and maintain your website; and even how your website, operations, and customer service functions will integrate.
As a business or marketing leader for your organization, you should be asking yourself:
“What is the role of my website?”
- Selling products and services
- Community/membership building
- Promoting my business
- Lead generation
- All of the above
“What functions must my website have to meet these goals?”
- eCommerce/shopping cart
- Newsletter subscribe/list-server
- Staff directory
- Q&A forum
- Video/audio playback or streaming
- Social media sharing links
- All of the above
“How will I know when the website is successful?”
- Increased market awareness
- More foot traffic and/or phone traffic
- Leads generation and list building
- Increase membership in online community
- Greater revenue from online sources
- Anecdotal evidence from frontline and customer service staff
It’s All About the Plan!
Once you begin to answer these questions and more, crafting a strategy to get online and stay online will come more naturally.
With such a plan in hand, you’ll be able to get buy-in from stakeholders and decision-makers, demonstrating the importance of your website to the company’s overall marketing and business growth strategy. You’ll also be able to use the plan to support budget and resource allocation for development and post-development maintenance, as well as support a slew of other important decisions going forward.
Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O'MONKEYZ, a San Diego-based strategic marketing agency specializing in Sports and Active Lifestyle markets. We serve as a seasoned, outsourced marketing team for companies looking to ramp up sales and launch new products. Our barrel is full of talent and creative arms ready to prove we don’t just monkey around!