When everyone from Meghan Markle to your grandmother is active on social media, it probably seems logical to concentrate your marketing budget on Facebook or Twitter, rather than splashing on a website.
Not so fast! Sure, social media has its place in any digital marketing strategy, but it’s no replacement for a properly maintained website of your own (by the way, check out our digital health check to see what else you can do to improve your web presence).
Putting time and money into building your own credible and distinctive digital presence will pay off far more than sticking to free platforms with limited autonomy. Here are 6 reasons why:
Part of the appeal of social media is that it provides a pre-fabricated, fully functional framework to set yourself up within.
The drawback is that you’re never in control of your online environment. Social media companies frequently make far-reaching changes without consulting their users, as we saw when Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritise posts from friends in people’s newsfeeds, hurting individual pages.
Zuckerberg makes a change to your business page’s interface that you just can’t stand? Tough, there’s nothing you can do about it.
A website, on the other hand, offers you full control over design, functionality, branding and content at all times. You can consolidate your identity while making sure your messaging isn’t hampered by sudden changes.
You’ll also communicate to your customers that you run a serious, independent business with its own online real estate.
An important part of modern marketing is making yourself findable. For websites, this means having great SEO (search engine optimisation), which makes sure your website appears prominently on Google’s search result pages for particular, relevant search terms.
There’s an art to this that takes some time to master, but it’s far easier than doing it on Facebook. Facebook stores your page as just another element of its own vast website, rather than as an independent domain in its own right.
A website SEO editor can customise their site with various technical fixes that’ll quickly boost its visibility to the most engaged potential customers. Facebook is far less useful for tapping this essential stream of new business.
One advantage of having your own web domain is that you get your very own email address - e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
This conveys a greater degree of professionalism when speaking to leads and customers than relying on a personal email address ending with ‘@gmail.com’ or ‘@outlook.com’ etc.
It’s another small but impactful marker of your business’s legitimacy, and helps build trust in what you do.
Businesses looking to market themselves effectively in 2019 ought to think about making some of their own content. Writing and publishing high quality, informative articles and/or videos and infographics gives your customers something useful that they’ll thank you for at the till.
An arsenal of content also provides something meaningful to share on social media, but you’ve got to have somewhere to put it first that you can link back to.
Facebook has its own publishing platform called ‘Notes’, but it’s pretty limited, and your brand is strengthened far more by publishing on your own registered domain. And don’t even think about trying to write longform content in a status update - nobody will read it!
Most website-building services like WordPress will let you easily create a dedicated blog section that’s a breeze to link to via social media and other channels.
If you use your website as the foundation of all your digital marketing (and you should), tools like Google Analytics can tell you exactly how well it’s all performing.
After a simple installation process, you’ll be able to monitor where your visitors are coming from, the routes they’ve taken to your site, how long they’re spending on it, and a raft of other useful data.
This will allow you to make improvements wherever you spot weaknesses in the shape of your overall campaign strategy.
If you sell products directly to customers, you can start doing so through your website by installing eCommerce software.
Similarly, if you’re a service business that works by appointment, or a restaurant, you can add a widget for people to book a time or a table, freeing up your staff from answering endless phone calls.
These easily implemented features minimise the effort of doing business with you, and that added degree of speed and convenience should, with any luck, bring you more customers!
A website might seem like a significant investment, but it’ll raise your profile, make you look more credible, improve your strategy and make it easier for people to buy from you.
All of this will bring your business more custom, and you’ll have soon made back your initial costs (and then some).
If you want a fully functional, responsive website for your business designed to the latest best practice guidelines in web design, our digital experts can build it for you.
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