I’m the Head of Digital Marketing at WebOracle.
Having a website is essential for just about all businesses.
If you are a retailer who is looking to have an online presence, it is important to own a platform for making sales, even if you can add e-commerce to social media pages.
If you are providing a service, whether it is B2B or B2C, a website is also important to prove your legitimacy.
Websites & Trust
Savvy customers will often Google your business name to check that you’re a real established business and not a scam. I would immediately assume any business (unless it’s obviously an arts & crafts type home business) that doesn’t have a website is not to be trusted. This is, in part, because of the sheer number of scam businesses and low-quality dropshipping operations that rely on social media alone to draw in customers. The slightly higher barrier for entry that a website necessitates allows businesses to show they are dedicated and have put time, work, and money into promoting their product or service.
Owning Your Platform
Another important part of having a website is to provide you with a platform for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The problem with social media channels is that you do not own the platform, and the platforms are at risk of external factors. If TikTok really does get banned in Australia or the US, or if Elon Musk runs Twitter into the ground, businesses that rely solely on those platforms for survival will be hit extremely hard.
Most businesses in Australia are more likely to operate on Instagram and Facebook than those mentioned, which are less volatile, but still have their risks and limitations on reach unless you’re really willing to spend.
Future-Proofing Your Business
Some of us may remember the days of Myspace, which felt like an unstoppable force in social media in the mid-late 2000s. Yet, despite its dominance in the early days of social media, it feels like its audience disappeared overnight. Imagine the devastation to your business if you’ve invested everything into a platform that loses most of its user base.
The Bright Side of Social Media As a Sales Platform
In my role, we focus heavily on SEO to get your product or service in front of people who are ready to make a purchase now. We find Social Media is better for growing brand awareness and providing opportunities for impulse purchases. It really depends on the type of product or service you’re selling.
Sometimes, impulse purchases or FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) products are an easy decision. However, for higher-cost items, people are less likely to take a risk on a purchase from an unknown source.
I’ve worked with multiple women’s underwear brands that make most of their money off the back of social media campaigns, including influencer campaigns. In fact, about 5 years ago when I’d just started at my previous agency, I was analysing the monthly report for one of the brands and it provided a good case study for the value social channels can have as a primary traffic-driving force.
The brand had been a difficult client with a very small SEO budget, rejecting much of the good on-page SEO advice the previous account manager had given. At first, the report looked great; Google’s organic search drove huge sales for their website. However, when I got more granular, I noticed that it all came in seemingly random clusters. When checking their Google Search Console account, I saw that all their traffic was branded. It turned out all their organic SEO traffic was on the back of people seeing their social posts and collaborations on Instagram, and then Googling the brand name to make a purchase.
Naturally, the client immediately cancelled SEO services when they found that social was driving all their sales and their SEO budget could return a faster ROI on Instagram.
The fact that they had the ability to use social media to drive traffic to their website where they can grow their mailing list and remarket gave them a strong competitive advantage. I’ve had a look at them today and can see that they’ve since started SEO again and started ranking well in Google for the un-branded keywords (generic words for their products).
As a business in the digital age, especially one that’s looking to develop a strong audience online, a website is practically essential for building trust and authority while getting your products in front of those using search engines. However, the role that social media has in allowing many types of businesses to connect with their audience and build their brand cannot be overstated.
Keith Nallawalla is the Head of Digital Marketing at WebOracle, a Web Design, Branding and Marketing Agency in South Melbourne, Australia. Digital marketing consumes Keith’s life, running multiple websites with his friends such as this one.