Having a website still elusive for nearly one third of small businesses

Small businesses are still not taking advantage of the internet and not connecting with customers on a website.

Nearly one-third of small business owners run their business without a website, and some indicate they will probably never have one, according to a new survey from Clutch, a leading B2B ratings and reviews firm.

The survey finds that 31 per cent of small businesses choose to use social media profiles rather than a dedicated website to cultivate a web presence. Others (23 per cent) cite a lack of industry relevance as the primary reason for not having a website.

However, experts stress that a website is not only beneficial in every industry but also necessary. In the digital era, Internet searches are increasingly replacing cold calls and other non-digital lead generation. Without a web presence, it is difficult to compete for the Millennial and Gen-Z market.

‘In the old days, it was mainly entrepreneurs that were coming to the Internet,’ says Alan Dale, CEO, Los Angeles Web Design, a boutique Internet business development agency specialising in web design.

‘Now, more traditional businesses – brick and mortars – are saying ‘We should get this figured out. Everybody else is on the Internet. I guess we need to be too.’ A lot of it is an education process and crossing the digital divide.’

The Clutch survey also reveals that location is indicative of whether a small business has a website. Only 58 per cent of Midwestern small businesses have a website compared to the South (72 per cent), the Northeast (73 per cent), and the West (77 per cent).

Experts interviewed about the survey findings attribute the lack of small business websites to a common perception many industries have toward the Internet: they tend to view websites as a waste of time, since traditionally, their leads come from word-of-mouth referrals.

But experts say websites can help small businesses in several ways and point to five key benefits for business owners and managers to consider:

  • Marketing opportunities increase from a local audience to a global audience
  • Digital sales conversions save time and labor
  • An elevated brand and greater ability to manage web aesthetic
  • More cost effective than brick and mortar
  • Ability to track marketing and business analytics

Those small businesses that do build websites place an emphasis on mobility and search engine optimisation (SEO). Nearly 80 per cent of small business websites are now mobile friendly, one of Google’s major requirements for websites attempting to rank highly in their search algorithm.

The survey included 355 small business owners/managers across the United States. Respondents answered questions regarding their experience with website ownership as a part of the 2017 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey.

Two fifths (40 per cent) of respondents’ companies have ten or fewer employees; 27 per cent have 11-50 employees; 25 per cent have 51-250 employees; and 8 per cent have 251-500 employees.

Related: Advice for small businesses on building a website on a shoestring

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Freddie Halvorson

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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