We recently asked Zambians professionals what they thought about business websites in Zambia. 150 people were gracious enough to respond. We’re extremely appreciative of their time as their answers were incredibly valuable and informative.
The first few questions of our questionnaire were designed to give an idea of who our respondents were. Based on their answers we know that the majority are between 31–50, run a business and part of their responsibilities include sales and/or marketing.
Do you run a business that is currently trading?
Do you work in a sales and marketing role?
As a primarily online company, we know websites are essential but were surprised to see such a clear majority of respondents answer with a “5 — Extremely important”.
There is a general sentiment in Zambia that perhaps websites are not that important anymore and you can make do with something like a Facebook business page. Judging by these answers however, when it comes down to it, business people in Zambia think having a website is not optional and an extremely important marketing and sales tool.
We think websites are important because they are a businesses home on the web. Something they own and control. Online marketing fads come and go, social media platforms rise and fall, algorithms change, but a business website has been going strong since the dawn of the internet.
By all means, diversify your online marketing, but always point back to your website as the primary front of house for your online presence. It is not wise to put all your online marketing eggs in one or two social media baskets, leaving you at the mercy of someone else’s business. Whenever you build an audience on another platform you leave yourself vulnerable to any changes that platform makes.
A prime example of this is Facebook. As Facebook exploded on the web in the late ‘naughties’, business flocked to the platform and started building an audience. As it is today, people could show they were interested in a businesses content by subscribing (liking their page) to the business. The difference being liking a page guaranteed you would see every post shared by that business. Businesses loved it. Likes soared and every time a business shared a post it went to every single person who had liked them. As Facebook grew however, it was not sustainable for people to see every post by every business they liked. So Facebook introduced an algorithm based home feed that controlled how many people in your audience saw your posts.
Conveniently for them, around the same time, they introduced paid advertising! A business could pay Facebook to guarantee that people saw their post. Facebook were now charging businesses to reach an audience they supposedly owned.
Since then, it has become increasingly harder for a business to reach the people who have expressed an interest in their content. Almost every year Facebook announce changes to its algorithms to that effect. When Facebook business pages began, your content was seen by 100% of people who had liked your page. Now you’d be lucky for a post to reach more than 5%. Business who have primarily built an audience on Facebook are now struggling to reach the audience they thought they owned and were in control of.
This is a repeating cycle, as a platform becomes increasingly popular, it has to limit how much content users see otherwise they get overwhelmed. Case in point is Instagram, who recently also transitioned to an algorithm based home feed.
It would be ludicrous to advise against using Facebook or other social media platforms. They are essential to amplify your message. Just always remember to point back to your website, a platform where you own the audience. Subscribers of an email newsletter you own are much more valuable than subscribers on a third party social network that could change its algorithms at any time.
If you have a website, maintain and continue to invest in it, it’s reassuring to know Zambian professionals think websites are extremely important for business.
If you don’t have a website, or have one but are unhappy with it, consider using our new websites product to start building an audience you own.
Amplify your message by advertising your business on thebestofzambia.com directory. Unlike Facebook and other social media networks whose focus is a global audience. thebestofzambia.com focuses on the unique needs and preferences of a local Zambian audience and an international audience that is specifically interested in Zambia.
It’s not surprising that the majority of business people begin their search with a search engine. Google is by far the best tool to get a quick overview of all online information about a particular query. At the start of your search journey, you want a tool that will give you the broadest results that you can quickly narrow down to find exactly what you’re looking for.
If people are searching for information about services you provide and you don’t feature prominently in the results, people will either not find you and give up, or worse, find and choose your competition.
While the majority might begin the process of looking for information about a business with Google, Google in-and-of-itself does not actually have any information. It ranks, sorts and points to information that is hosted elsewhere. Be it the businesses website, social media networks like Facebook or other platforms such as thebestofzambia.com, you need some form of web presence or you lose the ability to capture any of the people searching for services you provide.
People are different and use different methods to look for information. Just like you would advertise on multiple billboards, when you list your business on multiple platforms you expose your it to the unique audience of each destination. And of course, there is power in multiple touch points.
Notice that the majority of people start their search online. Out of the three, online, phone or physical visit, online is a way to find information with the least friction. You cannot rely on people coming to your business premises to find out basic information from you. This takes too much effort for them. There is also a resource cost to manning phones and face to face queries. It’s a win/win for you and your potential customers if they can answer basic questions about your business by themselves with as little friction as possible.
Many people begin their search for business information online. People are searching for things your business offers or more information about you. Without a high ranking presence online you are failing to capture a valuable audience who have already expressed an interest in you and what you offer.
We use search engine optimisation best practises and proactively develop strategies and content to maintain and improve the rankings of our online directory and new website product. This means that we generally rank well on search engines.
Of the 200 keywords and 4 competitors we actively track we rank higher than our competition 95% of the time.
Listing your business on thebestofzambia.com or purchasing a website powered by thebestofzambia.com is a quick way to improve your rankings for search terms that involve your brand and services your business provides. Your profile links to your website which will improve your websites ranking.
As part of our advertising package we market your business, services and promotions on Facebook. This means we also help you reach the other main channel people go to for information.
Given the prevalence of Zambian businesses who have a Facebook page as the be-and-end-all of their online marketing, we found it surprising so few respondents actually prefer to communicate via Facebook. Contrary to the popular sentiment, when it comes to communicating with another company, business people prefer the more traditional email or phone.
Phone calls are not the flashiest contact method but its not going anywhere, a high percentage of people still prefer to call. Make sure the contact numbers you have advertised are up to date and the person manning your phone lines is professional and equipped to answer the queries that might come via a call.
WhatsApp is a rising star in customer communication Surprisingly WhatsApp eclipsed even Facebook! Make sure you’ve got a WhatsApp account setup for your business as we see it becoming increasingly popular. They recently released a new phone app that’s focused on business needs: https://www.whatsapp.com/business/.
It’s hardly surprising that email is the preferred method of communicating with a business. New fads come and go but email is still king. Unfortunately, as a business who sends out thousands of emails a month, it has been our experience that a staggering amount of business emails do not consistently work. The most common errors being an email not being delivered because an inbox is full (out of space), the email service provider is temporarily down or the email account has expired and has not been renewed.
The problems Zambian businesses have with email:
Get a email system that works. Choose an affordable and stable email provider who offer a generous inbox space allowance. We recommend a premium G Suite account (formerly Google Apps) by Google. It comes at a cost, but your email communication is business critical. G Suite uses Gmail which is one of the best email clients out there.
If you can’t afford G Suite, we’d suggest the free Gmail version (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) over custom account (e.g email@example.com) supplied by a provider who doesn’t meet the above criteria. It looks less professional, but at least you will be guaranteed to receive all your emails.
Make sure you respond to incoming emails in a reasonable time and all your online content links to an up-to-date and active email account. Consider setting up WhatsApp for your business and training staff who man phones.
Finding the right email provider and connecting your email to a domain can be a daunting experience. Our new websites product includes a Premium G Suite account in the price. We also setup and connect a custom domain and G Suite premium account for you. Everything is fully managed by us and there’s nothing you need to do.
Every business profile in the directory includes clear and prominent contact details. As customer preferences for contacting businesses evolve, we will develop new features to match.
Respondents considered “Lack of technical, design and marketing knowledge” as the most common reason businesses in Zambia have for not getting a website.
The second most common answer was related to cost of websites. There are a number of reasons websites might be considered expensive.
Whether genuine or perceived, respondents believe the cost of websites is a significant reason why businesses do not get websites.
The right partner should consider your needs and be able to provide the right website solution for you even if you lack technical or marketing knowledge.
You have to decide which is the better option for you. Creating and maintaining a website yourself which would be cheaper, but require more expertise, or paying someone to do it for you, requiring less expertise, but probably costing more.
It has always been our mission to get Zambian businesses online. We designed our new Websites product around the unique challenges businesses in Zambia face. We wanted something that was both affordable and simple enough for any business in Zambia.
We manage all the complexities of a website so even if you don’t have technical, marketing or design expertise you will be able to have a powerful, modern and effective website.
The directory advertising package is flexible enough to suit both circumstances. If a business has in house marketing expertise our packages serves to amplify their marketing efforts. If a business what’s to outsource their marketing, our package is a strong foundation to get things started.
100% of respondents asked answered that “Out of date information or contact details” was a problem they typically found with Zambian websites. That’s an astounding percentage that indicates this is a major issue across Zambian websites.
We hope the number of people selecting this as an issue will challenge Zambian businesses to reconsider it a priority to maintain their website and the information on it. And, if updating a website is too complicated or takes too long we challenge them to use another system or find another supplier. The fact that people consider out-of-date contact details a problem means they have had experiences where they have tried to contact a business but didn’t get through; businesses are throwing away the very opportunities they wanted to get when they originally invested in a website.
Zambian businesses have to do a better job researching their customer needs. A website needs to anticipate any questions a customer might have. A website should consider a businesses goals but should be primarily designed for a customers needs. If you are getting the same question asked in email enquiries, on the phone and in person, it could be an indication that some information is missing from your website.
A high percentage of respondents selected multiple issues seeming to indicate a general frustration with the general poor quality of Zambian business websites. A website in and of itself is not enough. People want a high quality website that looks good, works well and has relevant up-to-date information.
Regularly check that all the pages, links and images of your website are still working. Sign up to a free service like uptimerobot.com that notifies you if your website goes down.
If you change any contact details make sure to update every place your details are listed — websites, social media profiles, business stationery etc.
thebestofzambia.com aims to resolve all the issues raised by respondents to this question.
Standalone websites and our advertising package
Our websites product is powered by the same infrastructure as our core product, thebestofzambia.com. Your website will not go down or stop working without us knowing and prioritising a fix. Our new product is the outcome of 10 years experience in a web consultancy building websites and 9 years of experience running an online business directory.
It is part of our service to proactively ensure business information is up-to-date. We do regular checks to ensure contact details still work and its super easy for businesses to request content changes. Our content creation system has been used to research, write and edit hundreds of business profiles to produce the essential information customers need to choose your business.
We think the evidence from the questionnaire is conclusive. Websites are important and an essential tool in your marketing efforts. Once again, budget will dictate choice. As a business you have to find the right balance between cost and quality. Companies who charge more tend to offer a better service with more lasting results. The cheaper you go, the more likely you will have to make some compromises on quality and results.
We wanted businesses in Zambia to have a good quality and affordable option to get a website. Due to the 10 years of experience building websites, the automated and systemised nature of our product and new developments in technology, we are able to offer a professional high quality website that is priced in the $100-$500 bracket selected by our respondents.
We think the evidence from the questionnaire is conclusive and matches our own experience in the industry. Websites are an important and essential tool in your marketing efforts and should be the destination of all your online marketing campaigns. Websites should be the online home and front of house of your business on a platform you control, producing an audience that belongs to you.
Special thanks to respondents of the questionnaire who have helped make our product much more relevant to the unique needs of businesses in Zambia and an important step to address the major issues we have all noticed with Zambian websites.
We hope this research validates your investment in a website and we wish you continued success in it.
Below is a script of the video above if you're unable to watch it for some reason.
This video covers our new standalone website product for businesses in Zambia. We will cover why we built it, what it is and why it’s beneficial for your business.
We recently asked 150 Zambian professionals what they thought about business websites in Zambia
It’s clear that websites and email are essential marketing tools.
However, this didn’t match the reality in Zambia. Our respondents reported that many businesses didn’t have a website or, if they did, it didn’t work properly. They were frustrated that many sites had poor design, missing, outdated or low quality information, or broken images and links.
In our respondents opinion, many businesses in Zambia don’t have quality websites because they are too expensive, businesses lack technical expertise and there is an absence of quality providers.
To solve these challenges, our standalone website product handles all the complexities of a website and is fully managed by us, so you can focus on running your business. You will get an affordable, modern and effective website, even if you don’t have the technical, marketing or design expertise.
The standalone website is only available to subscribers of thebestofzambia.com advertising package because it builds on some of its key features.
As part of our advertising package, our professional copywriting team researches and produces high quality customer focused content for your business. This content forms the foundation of your mini website which is listed alongside other businesses on thebestofzambia.com. Finally, we regularly check in with you to keep your information up to date.
The new standalone website pulls that content and repurposes it onto your own website on your own unique domain, completely separate from other businesses. Every update we make to your information on thebestofzambia.com is automatically synced to your standalone website. This is what makes it affordable and clever.
We provide everything you need for a business website that performs in one powerful package:
A modern, search engine and social media optimised design that works well on mobile phones and tablets.
A professional home for your business. We manage the purchase, renewal and connection of a custom .com domain of your choice.
Custom email username attached to your domain that handles thousands of emails without filling your inbox. No more bouncing emails.
Every site is HTTPS secure by default and hosted in multiple places around the world so that it never goes down and is fast, no matter where your visitors access it from.
Everything is setup on your behalf and there’s no complex admin panels for you to manage.
Every time we release a new feature every website using our platform will get it
There are too many exciting features to list in one video but here are some of them
Getting a business website in Zambia can be a challenging and frustrating experience but it doesn’t have to be. Get your standalone website with everything included for one simple affordable price.
Talk to us today and we’ll take care of everything - the content, design, domain, email, hosting and setup. We’ll keep it working and up to date so it communicates effectively and generates valuable business enquiries.