Are Websites Still Relevant?
With so much functionality getting added to social media channels is a website even necessary anymore?
There are a bunch of things you can do on social media now that used to be possible only if you had your own website.
For example, you can:
- Sell products on Facebook and Instagram
- Deliver live webinars and workshops in a Facebook group (or Page)
- Add a contact form to a Facebook page
All of these enhancements to social media are very helpful but they don't replace websites.
Here are 5 overlooked reasons why businesses still need websites even in 2021.
The Boring Reasons
I personally don't think it's helpful to echo the obvious. So, let's get a few of those out of the way real quick.
Getting Found Online
Of course, having a website can help you get found online but so can having a lot of Instagram followers. There are all kinds of ways to get found online. What people actually mean is that without a website you're going to miss out on the potential for organic traffic from Google searches. This is true. It's obvious. But who cares if you're already getting a ton of visibility through other channels?
More visibility is always better. But this isn't a very interesting reason to me for why websites are still relevant in 2021.
Telling Your Story
Websites give you a nice platform to give people your backstory. But, is it a lot better than your bio on Instagram? Maybe. Again, this reason doesn't really grab me as all that compelling.
Show Your Work / Portfolio
Again, yes. Websites give you the most flexibility to show your work. But you can post images to Instagram just as easily (if not more easily) than you can post a new project to your website. Of course, you can also post examples of your work to Facebook and Twitter too. You have more control over the layout on your own website. But, if nobody goes to your website and everybody sees your Instagram feed, then you can make the argument that Instagram is doing a better job getting your work out there.
I believe a strong case can be made for why websites are better than social media for all of the above-listed reasons. But, all of those examples are rather ho-hum reasons for why websites are still relevant today.
The Interesting, Convincing, and Motivating Reasons
I'm much more motivated by the factors below.
Ownership and Accessibility
How easy is it to reach your audience and who owns that relationship?
The importance of owning your own audience can't be overstated. Suppose you want to announce something like a new property listing, a new product offering, a new tour date, etc. and you want to make sure everybody sees the news.
If you just post the news to your Facebook page only about 2-3% of your page followers are going to see your post in their feed unless you decide to pay money to “boost” the post.
That means in order for the remaining 97% to see your announcement they have to go to your page. They have to come to you without any prompting. You can't go to them. That's a very big deal.
This wasn't always the case. It used to be that if someone followed your Facebook Page all of your posts would show up in their news feed. Then Facebook changed the rules. That's a scary thing.
You should not be forced to rely on 3rd parties to control your access to your own customers.
Authority and Positioning
Who are you and how can you help people?
I'm talking about more than just what you'd say in your bio on Instagram. A website provides the best platform – by far – to give people the information they need to know about what you're able to offer, who it's for, and why you are uniquely positioned to be able to deliver that outcome better than anyone else.
You can get a lot of this information out there on social media and podcasts but it won't be as powerful because the information on social media is too scattered and transient.
It's scattered because nuggets of information are spread across lots of different posts. It's far too transient as well. How long is a Tweet relevant and discoverable? How long does an Instagram post ride the #hashtag wave?
Social media is great for catching people's attention but you should be driving that attention back to a platform you own (as mentioned above) where you can underscore your authority and position.
What happens if someone isn't ready to buy from you the first time they discover you?
A reliable and well thought out lead nurturing system is critical for any business that offers products and services that rise above the level of an impulse buy. The truth is that most people are going to need some additional information and time to think about what you're offering.
Therefore, you must have a reliable way to stay in touch with your potential customers. By far the best way to do this is through email.
The fastest and most efficient way to build your email list is:
- Develop a landing page that offers something cool
- Collect an email address in exchange for the cool thing
- Deliver the cool thing and kick off an email drip campaign to continue nurturing the leads.
You pretty much have to have a website to implement a system like this even if your website is just a one-page landing page design. You need to have the ability to include the content you need to communicate your message. Then you need to be able to tie everything into your email marketing system. This goes far beyond what you can do through social media alone.
The information you can glean from web stats/analytics is often overlooked but incredibly important for a variety of reasons.
What Content Is Working?
Study your web stats and you can tell what your audience likes. Look at your stats and figure out what content is resonating with people and what's getting ignored. Now you're learning your audience and dialing in your ideal client persona. This will help you know what content to create, what to say in your next podcast, what to write about in your emails, etc.
This almost goes without saying but using Google Analytics will help you improve your organic SEO rankings by being able to measure bounce rates, actions per visitor, time on page, etc. You can use all of that to better understand what's working and what's not. You won't be able to get anywhere near this level of insight into your audience solely relying on social media channels.
Lookalike Audiences and Goals
Connect Google Analytics to your Google Ads account and you'll get better performance out of your ads. You'll be able to create lookalike audiences as well as measure goals. All of this helps Google put your content in front of the right people.
If you ever want to run paid traffic for your business a website is absolutely required. Facebook doesn't even allow you to run paid ads to a Facebook group anymore.
If you're going to run an automated webinar funnel, develop an SLO (self-liquidating offer), run a challenge, execute a product launch, etc. you absolutely have to have a website. You have to be able to measure things like your registration rates, attendance rates, how far into your webinar people are getting, etc.
Bottom line: You can't (or shouldn't) run paid traffic to anything other than your own website.
Bonus Reason: Recurring Revenue
This doesn't apply to all clients, but in my experience, most clients want more stability in their cash flow and you can help them achieve that goal by creating new streams of recurring revenue for them. This could be:
- Subscribe and save subscriptions to consumable products
- Enhanced access to your client for insider information
- Coaching or online courses
- Subscription service plans
- Maintenance packages
Obviously, this greatly depends on who the client is and what they do. But, even if it's a barbershop, why not set up a system where people can subscribe to unlimited haircuts for $30/month or $300/year? Or maybe you're working with a lawn care business that could offer annual service plans that include everything from snow removal in the winter to overseeding and fertilization in the fall? Or an HVAC repair person could get their clients on a monthly plan that includes regular service and maintenance plus discounts on repairs. There's almost an infinite number of ways to develop recurring revenue for your clients. But, they all require having a website to manage the subscriptions.
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