You've already set up a Facebook page for your coffee shop or restaurant and it's getting a lot of likes. So what do you need a website for? Well, there are many good reasons.
While social media is fantastic for reminding people about your business and keeping regulars updated, your Facebook and Twitter profiles should only be a supplement your main site.
Your own website is a powerful marketing tool that presents your brand to the world and can boost your local business. Here's how.
If you're new in town, or you're looking for a specific business, where do you turn in 2018?
According to Google, 80% of customers use search engines to research businesses in their local area, and half of these people visit a business they've looked up within the next 24 hours.
If someone searches for 'coffee shop' or 'Chinese restaurant' along with your location, Google will usually show them a short list of businesses that match these criteria – but will yours be included? There's a higher chance if you have a website and make sure this is linked on your Google Maps listing, as this increases your authority in the eyes of search engines and users.
Google and other search engines prioritise local business results, as these are the most useful to consumers. So even if you're just starting out, you've got a good chance of ranking highly against established names if you have a good website.
You'll notice that Facebook pages appear further down the search page (if they even make it at all), as these have less authority than official sites and review sites. How often do you click through to the second page?
Facebook and other social media platforms impose their own design, rules and restrictions. They welcome you to promote your business on their platform, but you have very little control over the presentation. If you unintentionally break any of the site's ever-changing rules, or you get reported mistakenly or by someone with a grudge, you could find your page suspended without warning.
Your website is your own patch of online real estate where you control the layout and the content. If your cafe has an established theme, colours or personality, you can express all of this on your website through customisable themes, rather than settling for the generic blue and white of a Facebook page. This gives new customers a sense of what to expect when they visit.
You'll also have the chance to tell your story and express your company's values the way you want to, more clearly than in the small 'About' section of your social media page. While there may be feedback from satisfied customers posted to your social media and review sites, you can pick and choose the very best of these to use as testimonials on your website so they won't get buried.
If a customer or investor wants to know more about your business, they'll often seek out your official website. If you don't have one, this can appear unprofessional or make it seem like you're not serious about your business – especially if your competitors do have websites.
Of course, simply having a website isn't enough if the site itself doesn't look good. It takes less than a second for a website to make a first impression on visitors, and many will leave immediately if they don't like what they see.
While you can set any theme of your choice, the layout should be clean, uncluttered and easy to read (preferably with no typos!), navigation should be simple and intuitive so users can find what they're looking for, and photos or images should be high quality and original, not generic images taken from other sites.
Adding your website to your local listings on Google Maps and apps like Foursquare will also make these more appealing and help you to stand out from the competition.
Another downside of relying on third party sites like Facebook to connect with customers is that these sites show highly targeted ads to users based on their interests. So if someone likes your cafe, they may be recommended other cafes nearby, with these ads appearing right on your page.
You can encourage customers to spend more time browsing your own website by posting your major updates there and providing links from your social media platforms. This way, they'll only see what you want them to, not what advertisers want them to.
Your website's main function is to promote your business, but it can only do this if it's genuinely useful to your customers. Good websites are mutually beneficial as they make it easy for visitors to find the information they're looking for as quickly as possible, with fewer clicks than may be required on a social media profile.
For your cafe or restaurant, key details people want to know are your phone number, address and opening times. These should be clearly visible on every page, with your phone number at the top so mobile users can get in touch with one tap.
Take a look at what other websites are doing to make sure you're including all the information your customers need, from menus to driving directions and parking.
Your website isn't just an elaborate billboard – it can also be a direct sales tool when you add a 'Book Now' function allowing people to reserve a table online.
If you have other businesses or projects that aren't directly related to your restaurant, your website can promote these in a more natural and less intrusive way than on social media, where everything's lumped together in one stream.
Starting a website from scratch can be a challenge, especially if you don't have prior experience. Limecube themes make it simple to create a professional website and get it up and running.
Get in touch today to find out how we can help your business.