3 Reasons You Need a Great Website, Even if You Own a Referral Business
One thing we hear often from business owners is that they aren’t concerned with their online presence because most of their business comes from referrals.
Referrals are great but the idea that they make a website less important couldn't be more wrong.
Referrals are very important for any business and, in order to set yourself up for long-term success, you must think about a broader strategy with your online marketing needs as a top concern.
Referrals are Changing
In the past, referrals were simple. Here is an example of how things used to work:
If John had a landscaping business called “John’s Lawns” and Bob was a happy customer, he would give John’s name and number to Rachel. Then Rachel would call John and, hopefully, become a customer.
While today this is still true at times, more often there is an added step in-between.
Today, after Rachel receives a referral, she goes online and visits John's website before making a call.
What services does John offer? What is his pricing? Does he have good reviews? A referral is not the last step for a customer but rather the first. With so much information on the Internet, even referred customers are expecting to find you there. Word of mouth is great and a referral from a trusted source is always helpful, but sometimes it’s not enough.
Here are 3 reasons why referrals aren’t everything they used to be, and why you need to build a good website:
1. A Customer’s First (or Second) Impression
Let’s take the example of Rachel above. She might have gotten an awesome recommendation. She is confident and she is going to call John.
She is so excited that it has got her thinking about getting new sprinklers in addition to finishing a few projects in her backyard. So, she wonders if John offers sprinkler installation and tries to check online. But when Rachel reaches John's website (which takes some digging on Google results just to find), she struggles to find useful information and has no idea any of the services he offers. There are no pictures of past work or any client testimonials. It turns out that John does offer sprinkler installation and he is quite good at it. Only Rachel has no way of knowing this.
She starts rethinking her decision…
Rachel does a little more online research and finds another company with a beautiful website, clear examples of past work, and great customer reviews. They clearly and concisely list the service they offer which includes all the projects she had in mind along with sprinkler installation. They have an easy to submit contact form along with a prominently displayed phone number.
This get’s Rachel thinking that maybe John isn’t as good as she had been told, and she ends up going with his competitor.
You might think this is an extreme example but the scary thing is, how would you know? There is no way to measure how many prospects don’t call you despite a positive referral. You simply can't know who had trouble finding your website or learning about your business and then gave up. As more people start their search on the internet, it is critical to have a presence online that won’t be a liability.
2. You Need Insurance For the Future
Having a great website is like having an insurance policy in place if your network begins to dry up as a source of business.
One hazard of referrals is that they rely on new or existing relationships in your network that must be constantly maintained. Great relationships are important and should be treasured, but you need to have a fallback plan.
If you start to lose touch with people or make fewer new contacts, your business could end up in serious trouble fast. When you are building up a web presence you are leveraging your current relationships in order to build up content and reviews on your site.
3. Automation (Taking Action)
This leads us to automation. Eventually, your website and the online marketing that goes along with it will become more automated and proactive.
You'll drive more referrals when you make collecting customers a regular part of your marketing.
The reason is simple, happy customers will tell more people if you remind them that they're happy and ask them to. Fortunately, automating customer reviews is easier than you may think.
Getting solid systems in place will help you be more profitable, be more able to take vacations or spend your time how you'd like, and attract the types of customers you like best.
A referral business is clearly awesome. You should be jumping for joy if the majority of your customers are coming from referrals. You are definitely doing something right.
We hope through this post you have gotten an idea of how you can be doing better and how you can protect your business for the future by building a great web presence.
A great way to get started building this presence is through the Locable Marketing Platform. We have a range of affordable website services or, if you already have a website you like, our marketing plan and audit service can help you find problem areas.
If you're looking for an easy way to drive more customer reviews and thus more referrals, check out Locable's Marketing Platform features or...