The vast popularity of WordPress websites for small businesses is staggering. In addition to the utilization of services such as Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, one may ask what is the best solution or a platform for building a website.
With that in mind, it’s worth talking about the main idea of running a standalone website for a small business.
What Purpose Does a Website Serve For a Business?
A few standard assumptions (followed by the majority of the businesses):
- Providing detailed information about the products or services offered by the business
- Structuring and keeping up to date the company information that would build trust between the consumer and the brand – team structure, the story of the business, etc.
- Listing the company contact details – a contact form, email, phone number, address
- Showcasing promos, company news, PR releases, etc
All of the above can be maintained (one way or the other) in social media profiles as well – such as a LinkedIn or Facebook page for the small business.
Facebook Page or a New WordPress Website?
My company builds websites for a living, and yet we do reject RFPs if we believe that investing in an expensive website is a poor business choice at that point of time.
Different businesses target different audiences. If you own a coffee shop or a retail store selling teenage girl clothes, you’ll likely receive 50x more traffic directly on Facebook as compared to a new website.
Unless you are a large coffee shop chain that has established its own brand and a community that cares about each and every aspect of that brand:
Most industries rely on larger audiences online that use a search engine in order to find a a service provider – directly through their website, and with a proper background research of listing and review websites. Or they require specific functionality with regards to their business model – such as a membership portal, eCommerce cart, or anything else that needs its own place online.
Promoting Your Small Business Online
In any case, promoting your business is mandatory and social media is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to gain traction. Having a designated website is also important – for presentation purposes, or as a leading business engine.
Here’s a practical example.
There’s a hookah bar I visit regularly which is fairly reputable – attracts higher end visitors due to its price range, food selection, and location. The business owns 4 bars and the manager has discussed a professional website option for their group.
I went over their concept and found out that they expect a 5-page business website with contact details, photos, “About” page, and a fancy home page. Right now their Facebook page has over 30 thousand likes and a couple hundred 5-star reviews. They have a Google Business profile which displays the badge with contact details and lists their Facebook page as the first result in a Google search. Their Instagram features expensive Dubai hookahs that they’ve imported, plus other luxurious assets that are attractive, and therefore viral.
How to Utilize Your Digital Marketing?
However, a business partner of mine has just bought a new restaurant and is renovating it to a hookah bar, targeting the same audience.
We are building his website since there’s a number of features that we’ve discussed last year and would certainly require a unified platform that will be used by customers:
- A booking system for online and mobile reservations
- VIP parking service in a private space for Black Card customers
- Membership cards with different levels
- A POS system tracking the purchases for card members and their levels
- Voting system for music genres and specific events (there’s a piano in the current place which allows for acoustic evening events)
The second example is a 5-figure investment that would focus on an entirely different model than the first one. It revolves around gamification (competition), discounts, premium events, transaction logic (financial responsibility), and premium add-ons which will repay the investment over the first few months. Due to the lack of an extended and flexible business plan, a professional website wouldn’t provide a lot of additional value to the first business.
That said, a well-maintained website that provides more and more information would support the business brand over time. If you provide regular content in your blog that is educational and entertaining, it will generate more shares and links across the web. The business will start ranking higher in Google for certain keywords.
Facebook or LinkedIn Page vs. a WordPress Website
Either way, the other alternative is sticking to Facebook or LinkedIn for a designated page. LinkedIn got acquired by Microsoft just 9 months ago and the ongoing plans are currently unknown. Facebook is a good platform for certain types of businesses but not the best venue for companies whose target audience doesn’t have the time to browse Facebook all day long (for practical reasons).
Also – if you were a journalist or a blogger – would you rather link to an official website of a brand, or its Facebook page? And would you reply back to a company owner with a Gmail email address when you would naturally expect a branded domain which brings authority?
In terms of long-term plans and stability, relying on third-party sources is a liability for the company. Investing in hundreds or over a thousand statuses in 2–4 years in a network that may change priorities may lead to starting from scratch elsewhere. In fact, we’ve been having regular issues with error pages popping up while loading a few company pages on Facebook over the past 3 months every now and then (occasionally for 30 minutes at a time). There’s not much we can do and Facebook is not the main source of traffic for any of the businesses yet a good number of daily visitors is aggregated through Facebook due to investing in social media marketing.