This article was originally written for Inside Magazine and was featured as part of our monthly column entitled The Inside On Social Media.
These days everyone knows the importance of having a social media presence, and likewise it’s no challenge to understand how a good website can benefit your business too. But what if you can only have one? The truth is that small businesses don’t always have the resources to have both a website & social media, so a decision has to be made.
The first questions to ask yourself is whether or not you have the budget to actually get your website in front of people. The hard truth is that a website without a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Google Adwords campaign will be little more than a drop in the ocean. It is unlikely that it will be found or visited by anyone other than existing customers who already know about your business. Social media on the other hand has the potential to reach people outside of your network with less monthly spend, although this is becoming increasingly rare as we discussed in last months article. It is almost certain that whichever avenue you take, monthly paid ads will play a key role.
Next you should decide on what you actually want to achieve from having a website. Is it to generate new business in the form of enquiries? Is it to sell product directly from the site? Or is it simply to be seen if someone searches your company name? In the case of the latter this is very achievable with an inexpensive site, or even a DIY version using something like WIX. If you actually need the website to generate leads or sales then you have no choice but to explore the costs of SEO & AdWords.
The same question needs to be asked of your goals on social media. Are you going to use it to form a community around your brand? Or do you need those Likes & Shares to actually equal an increase in earnings? Again, if its the latter you need to be prepared to stake a monthly budget on ads. The former is possible without large ad spends but will take a long time to achieve unless you already have a large following to depend on.
Once you’ve answered these questions you should be a little clearer on what option is best. If you need to generate leads quickly and consistently then a website with an effective SEO & Adwords campaign would be best for you. Costs depend entirely on your goals and how complicated the site is. Websites can range from £500-£10,000+, and a similar spread is possible on marketing campaigns depending on a number of factors.
If immediate sales and revenue is less crucial, then social media would probably suit you better. If time is on your side you can slowly build your audience and eventually, softly, turn them into paying clients. Alternatively you can be more aggressive with paid ads and get people into your community quicker that way, or use paid ads to get your website in front of people via social media (an interesting go between that can often be very cost effective.) The beauty of social media ads is that you can spend as much or as little as you want, and play around with different styles and target audiences to get the most out of your budget.
As with most things in life, the ultimate goal is the best of both worlds - an effective website that generates leads and ranks high on search listings, and working alongside that is a large social media presence allowing you to directly communicate with your customer base. This should always be the end goal, but hopefully this article has helped you discover what road to go down initially.
Now its up to you to take that scary plunge into the world of digital marketing and discover a brave new world for your business! Good luck soldier and remember, if you need any advice - the Inside Marketing column has the answers for you!
Jordan J. Whittingham.
The Inside on Social Media.