Do Cafés Really Need a Website These Days?
If you have a Café (or any other local business), and you don’t have a website – I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, you’re making a mistake, and you need a website as soon as physically possible.
I have been developing and promoting websites since the late 90’s. It’s a real passion, one I now combine with another real passion of mine, coffee, by offering high quality affordable website development for cafe businesses. So you may think I’m biased ;-), and I may be, but I’m also right – as anyone who knows about online marketing will agree.
With the rise of social media, many small businesses appear to have come to the conclusion that social media accounts replace the small business website. This is a misunderstanding. Social media platforms are a helpful part of a digital marketing system, but they’re only a part of it, without a business website you have an incomplete marketing system, and your business will suffer as a result.
If you’re not sure, just have a quick Google for any of the coffee shops that you know to be particularly successful, and you’ll find they all have one thing in common – they have a complete digital marketing system, which includes a website. This isn’t a coincidence. The power of the internet is incredible, but in order to properly harness that power you need a website for your business.
Scenario A, no website:
A speciality coffee shop has a twitter account, and posts to that twitter account on a daily basis.
Scenario B, with a website:
A speciality coffee shop has a twitter account, and their own website. They post to that twitter account on a daily basis, and the goal is to drive traffic to their website. The website is geared up to compel customers to visit their coffee shop, and is also setup to capture email addresses and build a list of potential customers by way of a promotion, a discount on first visit for example, or a partially filled loyalty card.
The difference between scenario A and B is obvious. The business without a website is relying purely on Twitter to make the conversion from follower to customer, whereas the business with a website can take the relationship further, and work harder on converting that follower into a customer.
Also, the business without a website is leaving everything invested in Twitter. All of that effort they are putting in to tweeting on a daily basis, it’s all left in the hands of Twitter, what happens if one day Twitter falls by the wayside to newer platforms, or something else happens which stops it being as good a channel as it has been previously? If this ever happened, the business with a website wouldn’t be effected all that much as they would have been continually working on pulling followers from Twitter onto their website and getting them into their mailing list.
The absence of “Website” icon on Google local results.
Another issue if your coffee shop, or other local business, doesn’t have a website, is that the “Website” icon will be missing in Google local search.
If you do a search for your business type in your area, for instance “coffee shop in Manchester” you will see that the first result at the top of the page are the Google places, local business listings. Next to each listing (either on the results page or on the listing page, depending on the category) there are two icons, Directions, and Website. If the website doesn’t have a website, then that Icon is missing. When people search Google for a local search, they are accustomed to clicking on that website icon and going through to the website, so if you don’t have a website, you’re more than likely going to be missing out on traffic via local search.
Improved position on Google Maps
A website with an embedded Google maps position is a ranking factor when it comes to the Google maps ranking, so having a website with an embedded map can help your business result to be found higher on Google maps. I always include Embedded maps on Café websites, it’s also very handy for customers when it comes to finding your coffee shop / Café.
The power of the mailing list.
Your website, and social media channels, can only continue to be effective while traffic is being driven via organic and or paid search. If tomorrow something happened which meant that traffic was no longer going to your website or your social media channels, how would you then reach customers and potential customers, if you don’t have a website? If you don’t use mailing list building and marketing as part of your website marketing strategy, you’re leaving the future of your business in the hands of Google, and other third parties. If instead you’re continually building your mailing list via your website, you are investing in building a list, and this is yours, no one can ever take this away from you.
A good example here is the huge effects of some of the first major Google algorithm changes in around 2004. Websites that had been enjoying high ranking and great levels of organic traffic for years, just dropped into oblivion thanks to strategies that had been implemented by most of the digital marketing community up until that point. There were businesses who suddenly went from having hundreds of unique visits per day via search engines, to close to zero! If something like this happened to a business who hadn’t been making the most of this traffic for several years by building a mailing list, they would be very badly effected, while a business who had built and maintained their mailing list could continue to drive traffic to their website via their mailing list.
In addition, there are two hugely powerful things about mailing lists, Autoresponders, and Segmenting.
When you set up your mailing list, you create a number of emails all assigned to certain days after the potential customer signs up, for example the first email on day one, and then the next one to be sent 3 days later, and the next email 7 days after that, and so on – and you can continually add to your autoresponders, as well as also being able to send one off emails to subscribers.
This enables you to set up a number of emails in advance, and then just leave the mailing list to work by itself, mailing each subscriber at the assigned time. You can even set up seasonal offers which get to work in the run up to each Mothers day, Fathers day, Valentines day, Christmas etc. Once you set these up, they’re working for you 24/7/365 without any more effort on your part, converting your subscribers into visitors.
While you can create separate lists, and move people from one list to another, for instance potential customer and customer – you can also set up segments. A segment can be created from their activities, for instance anyone who clicked in a link in your last email can be added to a new segment allowing you to send a separate email just to these subscribers. Segments can be created by post code, or region, via the mailing list system tracking visitors IP address, for instance to just send an email to people local to your business. There are several other ways that you can use segments, and it can be very effective.
So Yes, if you want to fully harness the power of the internet for your business, you need a website!
Websites cost too much?
The reason many small business might shy away from having a website developed is cost, and being under the impression that a professional and effective website is going to cost a fortune.
While some web design firms and “digital marketing agencies” with big overheads including sales staff and commissions to pay, may have pricing that would put a sizeable dent in any budget, you don’t need to pay over the odds for a great website, if you work with a smaller firm or a n experienced freelancer.
The bulk of the cost in website design is labour, and creating a website can be fairly labour intensive, but I keep my costs down by having a system to allow me to focus on the most important elements without wasting time and money on things which just aren’t needed. My Web Design Packages are affordable for small businesses, in fact currently they start at just £30 (limited time offer ending soon, click here to find out more)
You also need to keep in mind that when you’re paying for web design, all associated costs have to be factored in, and a margin added, so if you’re going to a web design firm who pay telesales staff, field sales staff and so on, these costs all have to be passed on to the client along with all other overhead costs.
I have no staff to pay, I rely on my own website marketing abilities to bring in new clients, I work from wherever I am, on my laptop, so when a client pays me for web design, they’re only paying for the time to design their website, and nothing else.