Exclusive Q&A with Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer of GoDaddy on Establishing an Online Presence for your Small Business

In today’s digital world, it’s hard to imagine for businesses NOT to establish an online presence.  But the trends show that many small businesses – in fact the majority of them – aren’t yet to establish any web presence, let alone using social media to enhance their business.

According to the latest survey conducted and published by GoDaddy, 59 percent of small businesses aren’t having any web presence.  So, what’s the impact of not going online for a small business? How to get started for those who have decided to go online?  While I can’t offer any justifiable advice in detail, our Q&A guest can:  Meet Steven Aldrich, the Chief Product Officer of GoDaddy.

Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer GoDaddy

Ivan Widjaya (Q): Hello Mr. Aldrich, please tell us a bit about you and your role at GoDaddy.

Steven Aldrich (A): I’m Steven Aldrich and I’m delighted to be Chief Product Officer at GoDaddy. In this newly-created position, I lead the overall product strategy and development across GoDaddy’s Hosting, Presence and Commerce and Business Applications groups. My focus is delivering even better experiences for our existing customers and identifying new products and services to expand GoDaddy’s impact on small business’ success. Prior to this role, I was SVP of Business Applications, leading our teams to help small businesses communicate with customers and run their businesses well; I introduced several cornerstone products including Microsoft Office 365 from GoDaddy and GoDaddy Email Marketing.

I’ve always enjoyed working on products for small businesses and am passionate about helping companies grow. Back in 1995, I co-founded an online service that simplified shopping for insurance and sold that company to Intuit. I then spent over a decade at Intuit, spending much of that time focused on small business offerings, including financial management, payments, websites, customer management and point of sale solutions.

Q: I’ve been with GoDaddy for years. I’ve seen the company evolves well along the way.  How does GoDaddy stay upfront through all the changes – e.g. cloud computing, hundreds of gTLDs, etc.?

A: At GoDaddy, our mission is to radically shift the global economy toward small businesses. In order to do so, we organize our teams around customer needs. These teams figure out where the market is going, go deep on the latest technology offerings and deliver services which will allow our customers to compete with the big guys. For example, the Productivity team partnered with Microsoft to bring a tailored version of Office 365 to small business which enables teams to be more flexible, work remotely and access collaborative projects on-the-go.

It’s tempting to take it all, but as small businesses are typically tight on the budget, what products do you suggest for a small business to get started with its web presence?

First and foremost, small businesses should have a domain and website; an online presence they can direct their customers to and prospects can find with minimal effort.

I also recommend businesses purchase domain-based email addresses. A business with a website and email to match reflects the value and brand attention most small businesses are working so hard to build. Plus, our survey shows people are nine times more likely to do business with you if you have a customized, domain-based email address.

Q: According to the latest GoDaddy’s survey, 59 percent of small businesses aren’t still online. What are they missing out by not going online?

A: Small businesses who don’t engage online are automatically at a competitive disadvantage. Having an online presence allows small business owners to effectively communicate with customers in today’s digital world. Additionally, consumers are going online to research and discover new businesses, so it’s important you are findable on the web in order to not lose out on these potential customers. Having your own website also keeps you in control of your online identity, so you can build and share the brand you want.

Barista at a popular coffee shop

Interestingly, our survey also shows that companies with an online presence have much higher growth expectations for their businesses, which translates into jobs and opportunities. Nearly half of the companies in our survey planning to build a website for their business anticipate it will help their business grow 25 percent or more within the next 3-5 years.  Half of all respondents anticipate growth locally, nationally, or internationally due to creating a website.

Q: Also referring to the survey – there’s a huge opportunity there for a “landgrab”. What’s GoDaddy plan to secure the big pie of the market?

A: You’re right that there is a big opportunity to bring small businesses online right now. It’s often taken for granted that all businesses have a website, but our recent global study of 4,000 of the smallest ventures (of five people or less) in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States shows the majority don’t have their own online presence. However, research indicates many intend to do something about it. Of the businesses not currently online, over half of them signaled they intend to create a website within the next two years, and one in five respondents have already taken the first step by registering a domain name.

Given that there are over 200 million very small businesses globally, the shift to own their online presence could have a major impact on small business growth, operations and ultimately on the greater economy. At GoDaddy, we support this push by continuing to expand our services internationally and better serve both existing and new customers who may not be online yet. We now have a localized set of product offerings with customer service in 37 countries and 17 languages.

Q: Lastly, please share your tips for small business owners who are interested in establishing an online presence for their businesses, but not sure how to get started.

A: First, purchase a domain for your business and find a simple and easy-to-use website builder that allows you to craft customizable designs for your website. Remember that the site represents you and your brand so make sure text is easy to read, include important information (contact information, address, services you offer) so it’s easy to find, and reflects your business’s identity. Plus, DIY websites can be very affordable! Many are free or up to a few dollars a month; a great investment for building a strong online presence. We’ve also seen many customers redirect their domains to their social media sites, which works great if you’re not ready to build your website just yet but still want to take control of your online presence.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the fuss of design work, there are extremely fruitful marketplaces out there, which allow you to connect with freelance web designers. These designers will work with you to build your website from the ground up, exactly how you want it.

Don’t forget your website should also be mobile-friendly. Studies show consumers now spend more time on mobile than on their desktops, so small business owners need to make sure their websites look great and are usable on mobile devices.