Well, yes and no.
It’s not as straightforward as people think. It really depends on what you’re business model is and what you’re trying to achieve.
Websites are essentially a marketing tool like name cards, posters, flyers, social media posts, advertisements, etc. Each marketing tool has its benefits but also has its barriers. Each business is different, so different marketing tools have to be levereged in order for the business to succeed. Each business needs to have a truthful retrospective about its resources and abilities so that it can manage its marketing efforts. This means only using what a business can manage.
When is a website neccessary?
Businesses based on ecommerce are undoubtly going to be running on some internet based shopping platform that offers a catalog of products and allows online payment. But it’s not so clear when your business doesn’t require online transcations but does require customer interaction through an online platform that has multiple functions like forms, surveys, customer login access, newsletter subscriptions, social media chat widgets or detailed listings.
It’s very unlikely that any app or SASS platform on the internet can provide all this functionality. This is when a website is indeed neccessary to your business. It becomes even more important when you throw in online advertisements whose endpoint is a hyperlink pointing to your website or landing page on your domain. This is when conversions come into play. To find out ROI by using the power of analytics, businesses can track the amount of traffic that goes to a website, which pages in that website are doing better than other and calculate the conversion rates. At the end of the day, businesses want to know if their dollars are spent well.
So, for example, Business A gets their Google Ads up and running with a budget of $500 a month. Their website is tracking the user behavior coming from Google Ads to their website. They calculate a “conversion” as an enquiry on their form AND a click on the WhatsApp widget for an enquiry. With simple business planning and cost projections, we could identify the “Cost” of a conversion and put an dollar amount to it. All we have to do now is relate the conversion rates to the “Cost” and we’ll know if the Google Ads or the pages in the website are doing well.
If not, tweak away…
To website or not to website?
That is the question. We definetely need a domain like www.iloveshopping.com or www.fancycatclothes.com for our email addresses. We can easily apply for an email hosting package with a reliable webhosting company, preferably closer to our target audience. But what about the website?
On top of applying for the webhosting, we also have to setup the server, upload the website and run continuous maintenenace. There are easier, more convenient alternatives like running your website on a SASS platform like Wix or Squarespace. Even those have their pros and cons.
Having a website may be an wonderful tool because;
- Customer engagement and interaction
- Funnel to one point of contact
- More traffic and coverage via search engines and digital advertising
- Add business credibility
- Digital catalog of products and services
Having a website may be a pain the a** because;
- General maintenance
- Additional cost
- Support and monitoring
- Long-term commitment
- Irrelevant to business
- Conflict with ongoing 3rd party platform solutions
To sum it all up, if your business model requires it, then you’ll need a website. The website becomes the endpoint for all customer traffic, customer engagement, customer transactions and customer management. But not all businesses run that way. Some businesses endpoints are completely different, complimenting their business goals and objectives.
When is a website unneccessary?
I wouldn’t say websites are unneccessary but sometimes not needed in order to fullfill the business’s goals and objectives. Not all businesses need an online prescence but for those trying to cater to a much larger audience, one of the best ways is to get online and target more people. But then again, more people doesn’t always mean more customers. This still boils down to the business model, the product or service and how it is marketed. In today’s world, we have to ask ourselves if people actually care about what we have to offer.
During the global lockdown in 2021 and 2022, lots of people either loss their jobs due to companies suffering losses or people realizing that commuting was entirely unneccessary causing millions of people to quit their jobs for something more conveniently, regardless if it paid less money.
Because of this phenomenon, many people started their own businesses. Just for discussion, let’s use an example of food and beverage. Especially in Asia, many people started their own food and beverage business, leveraging on efficient 3rd party delivery services and online food portals. Everyone orders food online and this new surge of inspired entrepreneurs took advantage of an obvious opportunity.
And now that I’m dangerously getting off topic, let me get to the point. These businesses thrived without the need of a website. They relied more on social media presence, word-of-mouth, online portals, online advertisements, search engines and a good Marketing / PR person to help push their products out. In fact, they didn’t even need brand. Just reliable access to a customer base.
The deciding factor was mostly wether or not your target customers enjoyed what you have, not so much how they heard about it or how they got their hands on it. If a product is priced competively, with selling points that fulfill the customer’s desires, it doesn’t quite matter how it was sold. Be it through a mobile app or through a website.
The point is, have a good, strategic, well-thought-out plan and execute it with admirable persistence. At the end of the day, all that matters is the businesses’ goals and objectives; regardless what they are, good or bad.