Top 25 Reasons Why Small Business Owners Need a Website in Canada

Ottawa has over a million inhabitants now. When I first considered moving here a few years earlier, its population had not reached a million yet. Now at 2.3% annual growth, StatsCan lists it as the second fastest-growing city in Canada!

Alongside Ottawa’s rapid growth, the world economy is changing. There are more freelancers and entrepreneurs than ever before. COVID-19 has meant that the digital engagements and transactions with businesses have reached a new height of acceptability.

Everybody, it seems then, would benefit from having their own website. That includes small business owners and micro-business owners, defined as those with 5-100 and less than 5 employees respectively.

Especially in a city like Ottawa, which is known as a tech hub, you would expect all small and micro business owners to have a website, or to have an optimized website to compete for traffic.

Sadly, it’s not the case. Having an industrial tech park in the city does not equate to greater digital know how for the rest of its residents. There is a gap between the new world and old world that needs to be closed. In a survey done 5 years ago, 59% of Canadian small businesses were without a website, and only one-third of these businesses saw a need to have a website in the future.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to close that gap due to the increase in the number of people who design websites and have basic digital marketing knowledge.  If you are a small business owner that does not have a website yet, creating one and getting up to speed on digital marketing is easier than it sounds.

Creating a website is not the end of the journey. It’s only the beginning, as you have to constantly optimize it to meet your objectives. But it’s an important first step, that you cannot afford not to take. But why exactly should you bother?

By speaking to small business owners and entrepreneurs, and seeing what others have written on the subject, we have uncovered the top 25 reasons for having your own website. The reasons for having a website in Ottawa is no different than having a website in any other city in Canada.

Top 25 Reasons Why Small Business Owners Need a Website in Canada

1. Allow Happy Customers to be your Voice

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you have worked hard to build a loyal client base who do business with you. Often, however, your customers do not get the chance to express their satisfaction, either formally or informally.

Very few folks actually leave Google reviews or rate on Yelp. That too, only if you are listed on there, which you should be. Many more may like and review the business on Facebook, but even that is not a very expressive form of review.

By creating a website, you can have a testimonial page that allows your clients to be as detailed as they want with their reviews. For those who show appreciation verbally only, you can always suggest them to leave a review on your website. You have the ability to vet all reviews coming in. By letting your happy customers endorse you openly, you are sure to create a buzz in the community.

2. Rank Higher on Mobile searches as a Local Business

Almost 90% of Canadians have smartphones. A large percentage of customers browse businesses on their smartphones when deciding who to give their money to.  

It’s interesting to know that search engine algorithms favour local businesses for mobile searchers. But small businesses without a website are unable to make use of this awesome advantage that is offered to them, simply for being local. Now that you know, you should definitely think about boosting your local presence with a website.

Even without a website, you can be listed on Google Maps and show up on searches when people are looking for something in the vicinity of their location. But having a website truly stamps you as a local presence. You not only show up on maps but also on search engines when somebody searches for what you are offering.

2. Rank Higher on Mobile searches as a Local Business

Almost 90% of Canadians have smartphones. A large percentage of customers browse businesses on their smartphones when deciding who to give their money to.  

It’s interesting to know that search engine algorithms favour local businesses for mobile searchers. But small businesses without a website are unable to make use of this awesome advantage that is offered to them, simply for being local. Now that you know, you should definitely think about boosting your local presence with a website.

Even without a website, you can be listed on Google Maps and show up on searches when people are looking for something in the vicinity of their location. But having a website truly stamps you as a local presence. You not only show up on maps but also on search engines when somebody searches for what you are offering.

Let your Website Work for you 24/7 365 Days Without Sleep

This is one of the best reasons yet to create a website. Often, as a small business owner, your businesses start and end with you. For anyone to do business with you, to get an answer on something, or to report any issue, they first have to get a hold of you. This usually happens over the phone or in person.

But when you have a digital presence via a website, all business queries, claims and questions can be answered and resolved on the website. The website goes to work for you, even when you are not working personally.

Small business owners already work a lot, with one in five owners in Canada working 60+ hours in a week. It helps to offload some duties to your website.

4. Your Competition has a Website or is Thinking About Having a Website

This is not a scare tactic. Nor is it a persuasion tactic where we tell you to do something because everyone else is doing it. But it’s the truth that more and more small businesses are contemplating opening a website.

58% of small businesses had said they would build a website in 2019. It’s unclear if they all did. Probably not. But once they do, they have a digital tool at their disposal that you don’t.

There are many other things to consider when it comes to determining the best business. But the idea is to level out the playing field as much as possible. To be on equal footing, you need a website.

5. Control your Own Brand Narrative

Customers are now more powerful than ever. Thanks to social media and greater social activism, it’s expected for consumers to voice their opinion. When you don’t have your own platform online to establish your brand, you cede control to the customers. That is not a bad thing necessarily. If everything is done right, you can benefit from positive word of mouth. 

If things get out of hand, you would want someone to fight for you and tell your side of the story. When you have your own website, you can clarify your point of view.

The brand narrative is so important because your whole business is attached to your brand name. For many small business owners, they themselves are the face of their brand. So it’s even more important from a personal perspective, to be able to shape your narrative by using your website to talk to the world.

6. Educate your Customers on What They Need to Know

Apart from selling the product or service that you are known for, there are a lot of things that are left to be discussed about your business. These things come about when doing day to day business with customers.

Today, people are not merely interested in what you do, but why you do what you do.

With an “about” page on your website, you are able to educate your client base about your business. You can tell them what the values of the business are, what is your purpose and what is the overall mission. People are interested in such things, and it helps build a closer bond with your business.

7. Expand your Core Market

This point about market expansion goes to the heart of it all. A website is good for local rankings, but one of the biggest benefits of a website is that it gives you an asset that is held by both one person businesses and multi-billion conglomerates employing thousands of people.

Both of you have the same asset but have different scales of operations obviously.

You are allowed to dream big when you have a website. It connects your offering to all corners of the city, and perhaps even in the greater region. It allows you to operate locally, but think regionally.

8. Showcase your Products/Services

Seeing is believing. Customers want to see examples of your product or service. With a website, you can host multimedia like images, videos and other collateral such as guides, price lists etc. Such content gives an idea to the customer on what to expect.

Most websites have services, solutions, and pricing pages on their website for this very reason. Some folks want to see what’s on offer before doing anything else. It helps them figure out if they are interested in doing business with you.

It’s easy to imagine how website design may not always match the quality of the product or service being offered. But 46% of consumers judge the credibility of a business by the visual appeal of the website. So then, elements such as design, images and videos are crucial to your website’s aesthetics.

9. Engage your Audience

Customers’ attention span is getting shorter by the day. There is a lot of marketing noise competing for attention. Attracting a customer to your business is one thing but retaining their attention on your web copy. But if you don’t have a website, to begin with, then the question of holding on to someone’s attention doesn’t even enter the picture.

Without a website, you have one less channel for attracting and retaining people. With a website, however, you have a chance of engaging prospects and clients alike as they surf through your website.

It’s been found that it takes 50 milliseconds for customers to decide whether they want to engage with your business website. There are tactics that you can use such as writing effective copy that really resonates with your potential buyers. You can design attractive landing pages that act as a mini commercial, except that it’s on your website instead of the TV. But it all begins with designing your website.

10. Your website Cannot be Thrown Away like Print Ads

One of the greatest advantages of going digital is that your promotional materials cannot be discarded. Business cards, leaflets, brochures can all be thrown away by a prospect.  But your online space is there to stay permanently if you maintain it properly.

Think of it as a constant promotion that cannot be tossed aside. Yes, the only catch is that you are not going to the people. Rather, you expect the people to come to you. But that is indeed where the marketing world is heading, that is people are focusing on more inbound than outbound.

But even if you do decide to employ outbound strategies, you can always refer your prospect to go to your website, which again won’t end up on the floor or in the trash.

11. The Website is one of the Most Cost-Effective Media Spend

When you think of spending money on ads, there is one metric you have to always consider. It is the cost per impression. Impression is how many times someone looks at your ad. It is usually calculated on a per 1000 impressions basis.  Conversion is when someone clicks and does the activity you want them to do. But for spreading awareness, it is impressions that you are after, at the lowest cost possible. Conversion is a science of its own, which cannot be covered in the scope of this article.

If you exclude the investment cost of building a website, which is a one-time fee, it has the 2nd lowest cost per thousand impressions, otherwise known as the CPM. The only thing with a lower CPM than a website is Facebook ads. Ads of all other social media platforms and traditional media buys like TV, radio are higher. Advertising on search engines is also more expensive.

Nothing beats the economic efficiency of a web page when it comes to attracting eyeballs. If your web page is slightly optimized for search engines, then it is even more economical and easily beats Facebook Ads for value as well.

12. You Cannot be Sure of Social Media’s Continuity

The biggest competitor to a webpage is a social media page. After all, it’s free to set up and people are on there, which makes it a nice market. In fact, many small businesses have social media pages exclusively or start out with social media pages before they opt for a website. But social media pages are not guaranteed to exist forever.

Notice all the social media sites that have risen and waned in popularity over the last two decades. With a website, you have greater assurance of continuity and a sense of control that is unparalleled. It’s kind of like the real estate market. Your website is your house online. The designer’s fee is the cost of building the house. The yearly hosting fees is like the property taxes.

Yes, social media is a phenomenon that should be taken advantage of, but as a marketing tool only. It’s like a nice place you can rent in the market, using our real estate analogy. But you do not really own the space. It’s a risky bet to make the social media page platform the sole digital identity of a business.

13. You Need One Space to Anchor All Your Online Presence

Staying on the theme of social media versus websites,  there is more than one social media platform. Depending on the demographics of your consumers, you may have to be on several platforms. To maximize awareness, you may decide to be on several different platforms at the same time. In fact, in order for you to promote your business to the fullest, it may mean being in all these places.

But being present on so many social media sites without any references to a website is confusing from a visitor’s perspective. It’s like an information dead-end from their point of view.

To remedy this, it helps to have a website as your official source of information. It acts as a place where you can link to all your other social media pages online. So if people happen to discover you on all these other sites, they know where to go to for the fountainhead of all information coming from your business.

14. You Can Update your Customers on Any News

With so much happening in the world, there is always news and updates to go around. Without a website, customers have a tough time finding out about changes in your business.

With a website, however, they have a go-to source for all the latest information. Especially with pandemics like the one that plagued most of this year (2020), it’s important to keep your customer base updated on all changes.

It plays to the recency effect as well. People generally do not want change but are primed to look out for and remember recent happenings. So for any emergency situations, notices, or announcements, you can spread all such info from your website. Make sure your customers never have the excuse of being unaware again.

15. Build a Community of your Most Loyal Customers

We touched on customer engagement earlier. If done right, it’s possible to build a community of your best customers. 20% of your best customers are responsible for 80% of your income.

In order to keep serving them and meeting their needs, you need to exchange information with them. One of the best ways to make this a reality is to form a community of your most loyal customers. Your website is a great platform for them to come together.

You can get their emails, social media handles, or their phone numbers, all with consent of course from your website. By collecting this information, you can create a club of your customers where they are privy to special deals.

16. Your Website is Customizable Unlike Social Media Pages

This isn’t the first time you have seen the debate between websites and social media in this article. Truthfully, both are needed, but only one is fully customizable according to your needs. You can make use of the free account all social media sites give you, but you have to be content with their site design.

You can customize to a certain degree that the respective platform allows you to. But from a positioning perspective, you cannot ever separate yourself from the rest of the pack without a website.

Even forgetting competitors for a moment, you cannot have the same satisfaction of having your own design or imprint on something you’ve worked so hard to establish.

17. No One can Advertise on your Website if you Don’t Want Them To

There is yet another catch with social media, which is you don’t have a say on who advertises on your page. Nor do you have the leverage to collect a percentage of the ad revenue.

That is how all these social media platforms make money. They give you the free site, but they get to run ads for their clients on the traffic generated on your page.

With your own website, however, you can ensure an ad free experience for all, which help for good user experience. Should you ever get a lot of traffic, and decide you want to run ads for these visitors from other companies, you can decide to do so and keep a percentage of the ad spend.

18. Your Website has Analytical Features that Social Media Does not

Social media is good for interaction analytics and gathering followers. That is the extent of your analytics. You can understand how many people are engaging with your page by visiting and performing certain actions.

With website analytics, however, you can see the number of total visitors and unique visitors. You can segment such visitors according to demographics and traffic sources. You can also see how long these visitors engage with each individual pages and measure their click through rates and conversion rates of click funnels that you have set up on your site. In a nutshell, website analytics is much more insightful.

Of course, this is going more into digital marketing. We get it. Top 25 reasons for learning digital marketing for small businesses may be more appropriate. But the point is, you cannot get access to such analytics unless you build a website first.

19. A Website is Not Bounded by Terms and Limitations

There is this last point about Social Media that makes it limited in comparison to websites. Most folks do not read the fine print when signing up for social media.

The terms may force you to relinquish copyright claims on images. You are also an open target for anyone to make a claim about you. They are legally permitted to do this without facing libel.

When you have your own website, you can filter all comments. You have more control over the legal rights of what you publish in your web pages. Think back to the real estate analogy. Social media is like living with roommates. You have to worry about sharing the space. A website is like living independently. You can do as you please.

20. Grow the Economy, Instead of Shrinking It

When you are thinking about owning a website, it’s not just you that benefits. When every small business in the city goes digital with their first website, it creates a demand boost for everyone living there.

When your customers spend more, the economy opens up. 98% of businesses in Canada are small businesses, with over half of businesses having 5 employees or less. Your individual efforts to generate more demand have a collective effect on the economy.

Macro-level economics is a tricky subject, but no economy escapes from the cycle of growth and recession. By taking such an initiative to boost demand by building a website, more money circulates throughout your city. It creates optimism and encourages more people to move into your city. That means more potential customers for you in the future.

21. Don’t Give up your Whole Channel to E-commerce

The last decade has seen a massive rise in e-commerce. People like the convenience of being able to choose remotely and have something delivered to them, sometimes in the same day, as seen with Amazon’s same day delivery. Yes, if you are selling a product, you too can partner with such e-commerce platforms. If you sell food, you probably already partner with SkipTheDishes, DoorDash or UberEats. If you sell a service, you may partner with one of these new innovative platforms that offers services for hire to people.

But remember, anytime you are partnering with someone for access, you are giving away control of your channel to these partners. In other words, you are reducing your margins.

When you have a website, you always have the chance to go directly to your customers through your website. This doesn’t mean you forsaking popular channels where the market is. You can still partner with them to get new customers. But you can also keep a direct channel open at all times on your website, where you don’t have to sacrifice margins.

22. Improve Customer Service.

At the end of the day, time is money. Any time that goes into explaining something to someone, affects your operations. Yes, it’s lovely to build rapport with your customers, but not where it affects serving other customers.

For the really obvious and repetitive questions you get over the years, it would be better to have a “FAQ” (Frequently asked questions) page on your website which answers them all. Having all questions answers contributes to customer service, which in turn improves customer experience. Millennials especially(those under 39), consider customer experience to be a vital part of doing business with you. Almost half of them say they would trust you more for simply having a website, as it enriches their experience.

Post sales questions should also be included in the “FAQ” page. For new questions that are not on the page, you field them through a ticketing system, which again, can be operated through your website.

23. Reach a Specialized Market

Many small businesses will refine their product or service over time based on what their customers tell them in person. They will tend to naturally be good at doing one thing more than the other or will come to this conclusion after hearing feedback from others. But the scope of feedback is limited without an online presence.

With an online presence, it’s possible that a barbershop will become known as doing one cut really well, or a tailor will be known as stitching a particular piece of clothing really well. When you increase your reach by having a website, the likelihood of getting such feedback, and reaching such a specialized market is high.

Of course, you do not have to specialize in anything, if you don’t want to. It’s just what ends up happening anyway. You can keep selling your offering as it is to customers. But you can get new customers who will come to you for that special service, which they feel they can’t get anywhere else.

24. Find Employees

Hiring can be a headache for small business owners. You want to hire the best talent possible who have the experience, while not giving a cut to recruiting agencies.

Searching in your network is often the preferred method for small businesses. But putting up an ad in your own website has the ability to reach those people who are interested but not in your network.

Creating a “careers” page is an option for those who have a website. Not only can you recruit directly this way, but you can share your company culture as well so those who are applying knows what they are signing up for.

25. Offer Promotions

As a business owner, you already know the importance of promoting your product. It’s one of the 4 pillars of marketing, the other three being product, price and place. You likely have a product, have done research on the price, and rent or own real estate out of which you do business. All those things are more rigid than promotions. Promotions are more fluid because they change regularly.

But it’s interesting to note that 70% of small businesses do not have a call to action on their home page. A call to action is a button that gets people to take an action, such as buying or subscribing. So there is a lot left to be desired when promoting yourself on your website.

The homepage of your website can change regularly to reflect the dynamic nature of promotions. So when people first discover you digitally, they are aware of all your latest promos.

What Did you Think?

Phew! That was it. The very top 25 reasons why small businesses should have a website. The hard part about writing such a piece was to avoid all duplicate reasons. We made sure that each of the reasons mentioned in this article would stand on its own.

If you had any follow up questions to each of the points mentioned or can think of any that we missed, please do let us know in the comments. Express Web Agency caters to the masses. Everyone should have the help they want in building a website. All other digital marketing pieces will fall into place once that happens.