15 Reasons to Embrace Web

The Internet has changed the way people think, work, socialize, network and share information across the globe. In this day and age it's very common for consumers to turn to the Internet first for information about businesses and their products and services. Whether shopping online or knowing more about products and services, most consumers make use of the Internet to do a research of businesses and compare prices before making any purchase or undertaking any service. However there are a lot of businesses, especially small-to-medium businesses, who hasn't yet started appreciating the magnitude and power of Internet. They still lack an online presence thereby missing out on the opportunities that the Internet foster and losing out to their competitors. These days, a website or simply a presence in social media is as much an integral part of your business as your contact address or contact number, and here are 15 reasons why any business should embrace the web.
Cost EffectiveThe web has a much wider reach than any other form of advertising. It may take some time to build up enough traffic to your website, something worth considering here is that it costs next to nothing to do so. A website is altogether different from print media because it's cheaper if long-term benefits are taken into account, this form of advertisement is accessible for an indefinite period of time, the website content can be changed anytime (and free of cost if you own a Content Management System) and you can potentially reach a wider audience.
Growth ProspectThe web has opened up ample opportunities for businesses to break through the geographical barriers and be accessible from any location in the world just by having an online presence, e.g. a website and profiles in one or more social networking sites. According to a Citibank survey online and social media platforms e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are becoming key drivers to the success of business marketing. Web in general, especially the social media sites provide a myriad of networking opportunities because of the heavy traffic they generate every passing moment. You can take the advantage of these opportunities to grow your business and make it reach its fullest potential.
Real Time CommunicationSpeed is indeed the most competitive business advantage, and swift or real time communication tops the list of how to react to business opportunities when they arise. The web allows you to communicate with your potential customers in real time through your online presence, e.g. chat facility and/or contact form on your website, social networking pages, newsletters and blog posts.
Measurable Way to SuccessThe web is measurable, and in today's world the goals and objectives of any business are mapped to its online presence. Using traffic analysis, e.g. Google Analytics, you can monitor and analyse traffic coming to your website, analyse search keywords attracting prospects, measure and strengthen brand awareness, improve organisational procedures and corporate strategies, analyse target groups and buyer types, and increase revenue and lower costs. In addition to this, you can organise polls on your website to gather input from customers and then analyse the data to make improvements to your products and services. In other words, your web analysis system can be effectively turned into a profitable solution that your business can use to make strategic decisions and measure their success.
Reduced Customer Service CostsAll businesses, regardless of size and sector, recognise that customer satisfaction is the key to success, which can only be achieved by strong customer service. It is extremely important to keep customers happy and online customer service can actualy result in tangible business results, a strong brand identity and better customer service. Having a website with self-service section (e.g. FAQ, Live chat) can assist the customers resolve their issues 24/7 fully or partially without having to interact with a customer service agent in the first place. The online support system helps streamlining the support process workflow and leads to substantial savings (the major reasons being the reduction in number of customer service agents and all the associated costs) without neglecting the customer sevice.
Process ImprovementWebsites and web-based software and application can actually help optimise and streamline various operations and systems of a business, big or small. From downloadable forms, to internal and external communications, to various organisational processes, web-based information system can prove to be cost-effective, faster and efficient.
Brand AwarenessHaving an online presence lets you promote your brand like never before. If you have not been using website and/or social media to promote your brand, it's high time to start doing so. Business branding through the web will help you develop a stronger reputation and connect with a wider audience around the world. Website and social media offer free or low-cost marketing strategy that enable your business to widen market reach, target specific groups of consumers and interact on an individual level with your customers.
Global PresenceGone are those days when a business used to be limited to its own locality. In this day and age a business faces various forms of competition and hence it's crucial for it to have a global presence. Having an online presence in form of a website or social media helps you leverage the benefits of the web and become part of the global business. Global presence of your business opens doors to new opportunities and you can transact from one part of the world with potential customers in another part of the world just from the comfort of your desktop.
Increased VisibilityIncreasing visibility of your business is one of the major factors that necessitates having a web presence. More and more studies reveal that consumers these days tend to do extensive research online before making any purchase online or offline. So by creating a web presence (i.e. by having a website and/or social media profiles, and sharing reciprocal web links with complimentary businesses and organisations), you stop being invisible to all those potential buyers out there trying to find you online.
Round the ClockMore and more consumers these days look for round-the-clock access to a business - be it for information, shopping or support, and this can be achieved by none other your web presence. One of the inherent benefits of Internet is that unlike traditional business it never goes to sleep. It's not feasible for most businesses to keep office or store open beyond business hours. However having an online presence means your business is not restricted to working hours and potential customers can have access to your business without requiring your personal supervision. The availability of your business round the clock can be a driver for your customers' decision to avail your services or purchase your products. Keep your business awake while you are asleep.
CompetitionWhile you're wondering whether to have a website or not, your competitors may already have created an online presence and are reaping the benefits of doing business on the web. If you don't have a website, you can be certain that most of your contenders do. Why let them have the advantage? By having an online presence will always help you stay ahead of the competition.
Revenue StreamsA website is not just a medium for representing your own company, but with the help of a robust online marketing strategy it can be a medium to represent other businesses and organisations that compliment your business. Once traffic starts building up for your website it will practically cost next to nothing to advertise your own products and services, as well as those of related businesses on your own website. A good example would be a property listing website which showcases its available properties as well as avadvertise other related businesses e.g. estate agents, financial institutions, mortgage brokers, property lawyers, etc., and open up business opportunities and revenue streams for all.
Improved CredibilityConsumers get skeptical and tend to grow a not-so-positive impression when they cannot find a business online. Even when they are not making a purchase, they do a pre-purchase market research online to compare suppliers, products and services. According to Nielsen Advertising Survey (2012), 58 percent of global online consumers trust a company with "owned media" and that consumers around the world find recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions as by far the most credible. The Internet allows for Viral Marketing so having a web presence of your business gives you ample opportunities to build the trust and confidence of your potential customers.
Engaging CustomersWord of mouth has and always will be the most trusted form of advertisement for consumers. According to Nielsen Advertising Survey (2012), 92 percent of consumers around the world trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Engaging customers is the key for any business to grow and compete with its contenders, and Internet is the only platform that allows your business to do so. You can connect with your clients and potential customers through your website and social media presence, and give them the opportunity to leave reviews/feedback/recommendations and share your products/services in an open way.
Educate Potential CustomersEducating prospective clients is essential for every business regardless of its size or industry. A business with a web presence can easily achieve this by publishing informative and educational content on its website so that the consumers can learn about the products and services and appreciate them. Educating your prospective clients reflects your authority in the area of expertise and displays your willingness to go the extra mile and guide your customers through the complex process of decision making. This will not only help convert casual visitors into customers but will also make you stand out from the rest.