This day in age, it seems like everyone and their mother has their own website (not terribly surprising since there are now over 1.2 billion websites). Now, does this mean you or your business/non-profit/enter-org-type-here must have a website too? Not necessarily.
Just because you have a website doesn’t mean you’ll get what you’re looking for and in fact, can just weigh you down and needlessly distract you (“Now, what’s the hex code for cornflower blue?”).
Here’s a quick and easy test to decide if you need a website:
- Do you have a goal in mind for your website? i.e. Conversions (e-commerce sales or phone calls), brand awareness, professional front, lead generation, customer support, directions to your business.
- Do your customers/constituents need any support/information from you?
When you’re competing against a billion plus other websites in order for prospective clients to find you, then you know your odds are against you already. Google can help get you found, but you’ll either have to pay for it with buying ads (called “pay-per-click” or PPC) or by putting forth the efforts needed to get your website to rank organically (or paying an SEO firm to do that work for you).
Creating a website is only half the effort, the other half is getting your website found.
– Abraham Lincoln
So, even if you know your customers want to find you online, but you just don’t have the power to build a website, there are still a number of viable alternatives.
Of those alternatives, Facebook is the most versatile. Creating a Facebook page for your organization is a breeze and managing it is pretty simple too. There’s no need to worry about what content management system to use, no trying to figure out how hosting works, and nothing to pay for.
Yep, that’s right, it’s free to have a Facebook page for your organization. Also, it helps that Facebook already has 2+ billion users on it but just over 50 million business pages (still a huge number, but far less than the 1.2+ billion websites you’d be pitted against in the world wide web).
Whether you’re a home remodeling company, a non-profit humanitarian aid agency, or a brick & mortar retailer, you can use Facebook as the primary (and sole) digital home for your organization.
Another website alternative is HomeAdvisor.com or AngiesList.com. Now, these websites are mainly oriented towards service-based companies, but those sort of companies are the ones that are least likely to have the time and knowledge-base to create their own standalone website.
One of the downsides of not having your own website is the loss of control. If Facebook decides they don’t want to your type of business to have a page anymore, *ZAP* page gone (and so is your main channel of communication with your customer base).
Another issue with relying on other websites to interact with your customer base is that it some websites either don’t support that function (like HomeAdvisor), or they charge you to message a customer (like Linkedin) or they only allow you to message a user once that user has initiated your business in conversation (like Facebook).
One way to ensure against being wholesale cut off from your audience is to collect and use their email addresses. The key part of using those emails is to make sure you’re always adding value to your recipient when you contact them (and that has to be what they see as value, not what you see as value). From personalized newsletters to informative autoresponder campaigns, you need to cultivate a healthy email relationship with your audience.
That all said, there are some simple solutions available nowadays to get your own website quickly and painlessly fired up. Websites like SquareSpace & Wix are just two examples of providers that can help you spin your website up in short order (but it will still take time and resources from you to get those websites set up to meet your goals).
Another option is to take the “short road” and hire a group (like ours) to take care of creating (and possibly managing) your website for you. The “long road” of doing it yourself is certainly an option, it just depends on how much time, effort, and energy you want to put into it and if that opportunity cost outweighs the cost to use a third party to get your website going.
If you’ve got any questions about whether or not you need a website, feel free to ask!