Will a Website Improve My Business? - Web Article
As the number of households with Internet and/or broadband access increases, so too does the number of consumers who either purchase goods and services online, or who perform research online to determine what to buy and where to buy it.
In this article, you will learn how a Web site impacts the image of your business. How a website can be used for advertising, presenting information, educating and connecting with your customers. Your website can even create an online community, that can keep your customer coming back again and again. If you want to learn how to have an online presence that can generate sales, focuses your customer on your services, and builds loyalty for your business, keep reading.
Perception of Reality
Having a Web site isn't a silver bullet for business success, but not having one in this day and age can definitely hamstring your business efforts. Even if you don't sell products from an online storefront, many of your potential customers will visit the Internet to understand your service, products and to learn more about you and your business. If you don't have a Web site, or if your site is unprofessional, your potential customers may perceive your business as small, antiquated, or amateurish. To create a positive perception of your business, you need a professional looking Web site that is visually appealing and grabs attention, and contains relevant information about your products and services. This will help you to convey your desired message and  gain the confidence of your potential customers.
Advertising Benefits
A high impact, well-crafted Web site can be used to effectively market your business as a compliment to your traditional advertising or totally on its own. Think of it as an online buisness card and brochure. By providing your Web site address on your traditional marketing materials, you can encourage your potential and current customers to visit your website and explore your products and services. In addition the web levels the playing field, large brick and mortar stores with fancy fixtures aren't necessary to have the feel of a substantial storefront or business.  What is important is clear concise information delivered in a crisp clean and impressive manner.

  Having a Web site also opens up new advertising and marketing channels, such as Pay-Per-Click advertising, banner ads, search engine listings, online store front. These forms of advertising often require you to have a Web site, and are an excellent means of reaching a broader audience of consumers.
Staying Competitive
In this day and age you can bet your competition already has a Web site, building one of your own can help you stay competitive. Your competition may already be winning business away from you or picking up new business that you will not get a chance at unless you're on the web.
Providing Information
 Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of a Web site is that it allows you to provide detailed information about your business to a broad base of consumers. You can use a Web site to promote your business, to convey a message about your values or principals, to provide details about your products and/or services, etc. By writing content about your industry, you can establish yourself as an expert and gain credibility and customer loyalty.

  A popular feature of many Web sites is a Blog (Web Log), which is an online journal that you can use to provide information to your user community. Blogs can contain such things as announcements for up-coming events or sales, industry news and trends, even new product launches. You can also use your Web site to provide articles like this one containing information relevant to your users. This also helps your search engine placement, which is an inexpensive means of advertising.  An online newsletter is a great way to deliver news and updates. If well written it can provide a draw that keeps people coming back to your site, and keeps your clients up to date on a wide range of issues that are of interest to them.

  A customer forum where your clients can exchange ideas, post solutions, tech tips, recipes, patterns or thoughts on relevant topics and discussion threads is a great way to create a sense of community and keep people coming back to your site over and over again.

  Before the Web, the only way to provide such detailed information about your business was to send out thousands of catalogs or brochures. Now, it's much easier and cheaper to launch a Web site that can easily be kept current, and that can reach an audience of millions.

- Rick Merlino

Rick Merlino is the co-founder of TwWebDev.com a product of TeacherWebsite.com, Inc. He has an extensive background in sales, training, marketing, and website development.