Service-Based Businesses: Don't Build a Website!

Caleb Marsh
January 27, 2023
min read

Service-Based Businesses: Don't Build a Website!

Caleb Marsh
January 27, 2023
min read

Early mornings at a coffee shop are my best time for strategic thinking — working on my business, not in it. Small latte, AirPods in, Urban Hymns by The Verve on loop, and today I'm thinking about why it's a terrible idea for many service-based businesses to put money into their websites.

Woah, where did that come from? We sell websites, that attitude doesn't seem like a good addition to the business model...

This seemingly counter-productive thought came from a conversation with our friends at Websprint the other day, and I stand by it. Here's why:

Websites are a marketing tool. The goal is simple: get customers. The metric to measure whether your website works is also simple: conversion rate. Do you to make a business case for investing in your website? Answer these two questions:

  1. How many people are visiting your website?
  2. How many people turn into customers after visiting your website?

Those are the only two questions that matter. If nobody visits your website, you won't get business from it, so don't put money into it. If nobody turns into customers after visiting your website, you won't get business from it, so don't put money into it.

It's a simple concept, but one that seems to be ineffectively implemented with tragic regularity by a lot of the small service-based businesses that we interact with. I'll shed some light on the problem: how many small business owners even know the conversion rate of their own website?

Caleb on the old Redd Legend Wordpress site, 2017 (colorized)

Why a 99% conversion rate doesn't matter without traffic

All that to say, your website is worthless without traffic, and it's worthless if it doesn't convert that traffic in some meaningful way. We could get into the weeds about using your website as a branding piece versus a marketing piece, but that difference probably isn't going to affect the average small business' bottom line.

Why do I think a lot of small businesses shouldn't put money into their website? Because they don't even know if it works to get them customers. Because they don't have the resources to stay on top of their website to research and optimize their conversion rate. Because they don't have the resources to run campaigns that drive traffic to their site. If you're going to spend money and energy on a project as a small business, spend it on something you can do well. As a wise man once said...

Alright, we get it. Bad website, analytics, blah blah blah. How do we solve the problem?

Here are a few things business owners can do to make a website worth it.

  1. Know your numbers. Take a couple of hours and learn how to find and interpret the analytics for your site, and spend 15 minutes a week reviewing them. If you don't know how to do that, reach out with the contact form on the website and I will personally walk you through it free of charge.
  2. Simplify your site to improve your metrics. Determine the most important 1-2 actions people should take on your website (phone call, form submission, booking, etc.). Cut the fat.
  3. Get fresh, attractive photos and videos on your site. It makes a big difference by building trust in you.
  4. Drive traffic to your website. Use QR codes, include it in your email signature, publish blogs, invest in SEO — or any of the countless other ways you can get potential customers to your website to learn more.
  5. Work with a marketing consultant. They will save you time and come up with great ideas to improve your site — and should be able to generate a measurable ROI on your investment with them. Shameless plug, we do that.

There is a lot a small business can do to make their website worth it — in a perfect world a website is a 24/7 sales team that costs about as much as I spend on coffee (not cheap per se...but not inordinately expensive).

Do you run a small business and you feel like your website can do so much more for you? I encourage you to spend a small amount of time on a weekly basis learning more about your website and working to improve it. Doesn't sound appealing, or feeling overwhelmed about how to do it yourself? Reach out, we're here to help.

Caleb Marsh
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