Twenty years ago the Internet was a completely different place. There was a fraction of the websites there are today and some companies, like Google, didn’t even exist yet. Many businesses were skeptical of the impact the Internet could have, while a few pioneers began creating the first websites. Today, most business owners understand the importance of having an online presence and the necessity of a website. Despite knowing this, many small businesses still haven’t created an effective online presence.

According to a study conducted earlier this year by Clutch.com, almost a third of small businesses don’t have a website. In 2016 this number was almost 50%. This was primarily due to lack of finances or the belief that it wasn’t relevant to what they do. Whether you create apps for all of our smart devices or you’re a welder, a website is now a necessary part of your business. So what can a website do for you? And how do you get one?

There are a couple different perspectives to keep in mind when creating a website. From the professional web developer’s perspective, a website is an interactive sales tool that businesses can use to leverage the massive amounts of traffic available online. It should focus on the user experience, enabling consumers to familiarize themselves with your brand and products or services before even speaking to a representative of the company.

From the expert marketer’s perspective, a website is a way to automate the sales process. Through proper web development, a system can be put in place to automate relationship building and encapsulate your sales pitch. With proper SEO, a website also becomes a client acquisition device, as it directs targeted traffic to a site that is optimized for conversion.

Having a professional website allows you to take your marketing opportunities from a local to a global scale, reaching clients you never could have imagined reaching through a physical storefront. Converting digital sales this way saves you on time and labor, plus they provide you with analytics you can track. Shopping habits, customer interactions, and purchase history let you understand your customers and potential customers on a new level. Both of these perspectives are important and necessary to consider when creating a working digital storefront.

It does take time and money to set up and manage all of this however, which is the obstacle that holds many businesses, especially small businesses, from creating a website. Don’t let that stop you from opening your digital storefront though. Instead, find an expert marketing team that understands each of these perspectives and can execute them for you.

A good website needs to communicate your brand as well as handle reaching new customers and processing sales. So, when you look for someone to help you create your site, treat it like an interview. They will be building your online presence. Just like when you hire someone to run a brick and mortar store, you want to make sure the team that builds your digital store is skilled in building your online presence and will represent your brand well. So get out there, do your research, ask questions, and finally open up that digital storefront with the help of your expert marketing team.