If you get very little business through your website, how do you know if it’s because your website is absolute rubbish, or if it’s because your customers just aren’t looking for your services online?
This may sound like a bit of an odd question seeing as there are now more than two billion people on Facebook, and Google processes over 40,000 searches every second. You’d think it was obvious that customers for every industry are looking for businesses online, yet I still meet business owners who disagree.
For instance, I met someone at a networking group who runs a hugely successful business providing sprinkler systems. When I say hugely successful, I’m talking turnover in the millions. Once she discovered what I did I heard the whole ‘that doesn’t work for me’ speech and I proceeded to listen to her explain how people don’t search for her products online, so she’d never do any significant business through their website.
Now, I ask again. Was their lack of business through the website due to nobody looking for what they do, or because nobody could find them in the first place?
This issue also exists at the other end of the scale with small businesses. I met someone else recently at a networking event, someone who is very well-known within business circles around Chester and the North West. It was my first time meeting him, as I don’t get out much, so I took extra care when emailing him afterwards using the contact details on his business card. It wasn’t a casual ‘hi, nice to meet you’ email – I actually needed his services, quite urgently as it happens.
The email bounced back to me.
Had I typed the email incorrectly? I checked it again and, nope, it was written exactly as it appeared on his business card. I then tried his website. The website had a different URL to the domain on the business card. No joy – the website was down. I landed on the 123-REG ‘account expired’ page.
Had they gone out of business? This was my first thought.
Finally I tried the phone number and got through to someone at the company. I explained how I had emailed them, with no success, and they asked me to read out the email address I had used.
You guessed it – the email was incorrect on the business card. No doubt they didn’t receive too many requests for quotes via email from handing out those cards.
I mentioned the website was down and she was surprised. “It shouldn’t be” she exclaimed.
It appears the website was such an essential part of their marketing that they were completely unaware that it was down, and that the email address was incorrect on the business cards.
Do you think this person would also say that websites don’t work for them, and that online marketing would be a waste of time? I imagine they would, given their website was down for who knows how long and they hadn’t even noticed.
The real answer is that websites, and online marketing, will work for pretty much any business and any industry. Much like networking will. However, also like networking, they won’t work for every person. I used to get quite frustrated and angry when businesses treated their websites with such disdain, and were happy with a free website, holding page or even a free email account. I realise now, of course, that not everyone can ‘get’ the internet and, if they did, online marketing would be a lot more competitive for us than it actually is. It’s the companies that don’t receive any business from the internet, and evangelise about how online marketing doesn’t work, that makes our job so much easier.
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