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Six Reasons Your Website Will Fail

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Although the dawn of the Web was nearly two decades ago, many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) still have a limited, ineffective online presence. That wouldn't be much of an issue if the Internet hadn't long ago replaced hardcopy Yellow Pages as the go-to source for business information.

vSplash's SMB DigitalScape data, based on an analysis of 1 million SMB websites worldwide last year, provides a clear demonstration of how poorly equipped SMB websites are for the digital age.

Let's go through the most alarming findings and examine the top reasons SMBs are failing online.

1. Not Built Right (for Mobile Devices)

93.3% of SMB websites are not mobile-compatible and will not render successfully on mobile devices, including smartphones.


The gap is widening between consumer adoption of digital platforms and deficiencies in SMBs' digital presence. As Internet-content consumption is fast moving away from desktops to portable devices, ensuring your website is optimized for the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones is critically important.

People will often be looking to access your site on the go, and ensuring your website is mobile compatible will help introduce your business to the rapidly growing mobile market.

2. (Anti-)Social Media

80.5% of SMB websites have no social media links—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, etc.

If you're ever questioning your business's lack of fans or followers, you probably haven't connected your social media accounts to your website—potentially your biggest source of traffic to your social presence. Social marketing can be a powerful tool, but not if there's no audience to engage with.

Ideally, when managing a part of your website (e.g. writing a blog post or adding a team member), your website content management software should be intelligent enough to automatically push that out through the social media sphere.

3. E-Fail

74.7% of SMB websites lack an email link on their homepage for consumers to contact the business.

What is so convenient about email is its instant delivery and (often) instant gratification. But not having an email link on your homepage eliminates that convenience. Plus, think about the opportunities you're missing: Questions from customers, or potential partnership opportunities from companies, don't ever reach your inbox.

4. (Lack of) Information, Please

65.7% of SMB websites lack a form-fill option to enable consumers to request information.

SMBs should build default information inquiry forms right into their site, but only one-third of them are taking that necessary and helpful step. Those forms need to be already connected to a CRM, an email system, and an ecommerce system so that the lead is not just being collected but also prepped for the SMB owner to communicate with in an effort to generate business via that lead.

5. E.T. Can't Phone Home

60% of SMB websites have no toll-free or local business phone number listed on the homepage.

Although email tends to be the preferred form of communication (and, as discussed, most SMBs don't even have that information on their homepage), some questions are better answered by phone. Generating phone calls via your homepage makes customers feel comfortable, while not listing a phone number can cause questions of legitimacy to arise.

6. SEO struggles

56.3% of SMB websites have no keyword info for search engine discovery.

If you have a website and no one can find it, does it really exist? A significant amount of your traffic will be the result of consumers' finding it through search engines.

Keyword research and creation, on-site optimization, and off-site link building in industry directories and other relevant sites are all necessary elements for driving traffic to your website. Those tactics will help make your site search engine-friendly and improve your ranking, allowing your business to gain needed exposure.

* * *

Addressing those six areas will allow SMBs to deliver traffic to their website, engage with their audience, and acquire monetizable information. Of course, those six items cover only the basics. SMBs will continue to fail online if they don't generate additional business by bolstering their website with an e-commerce platform, reservations system, ad integration, and other key enhancements.

One last stat: In July 2012, a Wells Fargo-Gallup Small Business Index survey found that 56% of SMBs plan to invest in new website or software in 2013. Why? Deep down, SMB owners know that their website isn't working, but they don't know how to fix it. The lack of a comprehensive software solution is forcing SMBs to cobble together their own multivendor system.

Adapting to the increasingly Internet-based economy shouldn't require SMB owners to be Internet and software experts. That is the job of solution providers.


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Ollie Bigler is CEO of Marketecture Inc., an all-in-one platform for small business owners to build, market, and grow their business online.

Twitter: @oliverbigler

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Comments

  • by Steve Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    It amazes me how many business just don't get it! Mcfly!!!!!!

  • by John Wolforth Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    Ollie, these are some stunning stats, although it makes me feel better knowing that I'm making the right recommendations to my clients and prospects - these are the things I preach to them to implement!

  • by Bryn Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    Hi Ollie - great article, and it's quite true! Websites are no longer just "storefronts" for businesses, and need to be much more thorough and considered as a primary marketing tool.

    One thing I would add to the list is website performance - the speed, scalability, and security of your site. Most visitors will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, and websites that are down due to high traffic volume are automatically losing potential conversions and purchases.

    Here's a guide I put together on website performance ROI resources you might like to check out: http://www.yottaa.com/blog/bid/279433/The-ROI-of-Website-Performance-A-Reso...

    Thanks again for the awesome article!

  • by Mike Spanjar Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    I am an avid fan of MarketingProfs and retweet with wild abandon. I clicked on this article, not to read it, but to express the following. As a copywriter, and with all due respect, I don't understand why anyone would start an article with a headline that insults the readership. In my opinion, it is desperate for attention. Personalizing copy can be powerfully effective at both winning people over and turning them away. I believe "Six Reasons Even the Coolest Websites Fail" might have been the way to go here.

  • by Nick Stamoulis Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    There are so many things that go into making your website a success each one is important! I think a lot of SMBs are starting to understand you can't just throw up a website and do well; it takes real work and a lot of time.

  • by David Hunegnaw Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    Ollie, I'm honestly not too surprised at the stats you present. Small businesses, generally speaking, do not have the technical, financial, or human resources to effectively manage their web/social presence. When we created startup, @AboutOurWork, it was to help address this very issue. Great piece.

  • by Joe Wozny Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    Hi Ollie,
    So my question to you - do you think SMB's will migrate to Inbound Marketing Solution providers (example: HubSpot, Spokal ...) rather than try to take this on themselves. Its seems to me that SMB's may be intrigued by a monthly fee vs capital outlay (given their budgets) - particularly if these services provide the value added guidance, for free, such as the information in your blog.
    Joe Wozny
    Author of The Digital Dollar

  • by Ed Alexander Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    Why I won't do business with you, based on your website.


    1. No Identity. No owner biographies or staff photos. Who are you? Answer that, definitively. For all I know, you're a 12 year old hobbyist - or at least don't demonstrate sufficient expertise to interest me.

    2. No Customers. No client references or testimonials. Have you even been in business long enough to talk about your successes? If not, convince me with your expertise that I should be your first paid experiment.

    3. No info. Your product and service descriptions consist of vague generalities, or quotes from other authoritative sources, in a feeble attempt to borrow their legitimacy to fill your own vacuum. Whom do you think is even fooled by that any more?

    4. No contact information. The only way to reach you is through a form page. Asking for my identity without identifying yourself first is just phishing by another name. I wouldn't hand out my address to a stranger on the street; would you?


    Even more creepy, if your site describes vaguely how you will help your customers succeed, while your own site commits some of the most egregious, baseline failures listed above, undermines your own illusion of credibility.

    Just saying.

    Cheers,
    Ed
    @fanfoundry


    Walk your talk. Then, someday, maybe, we'll talk. On second thought, probably not.


  • by Randy Fri Apr 12, 2013 via mobile

    Good article but you've missed the boat with #3 E-Fail. An email address on your site invites spam. Big time. A significantly better solution is a lead capture form on a relevant offer landing page. Several as a matter of fact, each at different stages of the sales funnel. The team at kayak online marketing create valued offers every day for our clients and ourselves. There truly is no match for generating qualified leads online. Our blog is full of free advice: http://kayakonlinemarketing.com/blog

  • by David Hunegnaw Sat Apr 13, 2013 via web

    Randy,

    If anything were missing from the article, I would say an active blog. Having an active blog can go a long way in helping promote products/services, instill confidence in potential customers, and actually help with #6... SEO.

    Dave

    AboutOurWork
    @aboutourwork
    www.aboutourwork.com

  • by Randy Sat Apr 13, 2013 via web

    Agreed Dave. Each blog post is a fresh new page on your site. Simple to create, great for SEO and most important of all: a reason for visitors to come back. @kayak360

  • by Dean I Sat Apr 13, 2013 via android

    Another thing that is often over looked in a professionally designed site. A well designed site has the ability to create better conversion.

  • by andrew.bitto@getstarted.com.au Sat Apr 13, 2013 via web

    This list is too basic and low level. These things are always addressed as the first steps of a redesign by any decent agency and thus these six reasons can usually be summed up by just one: you used a cheap freelancer, family member or underqualified micro agency to build your site, or you made it yourself without any understanding of digital marketing / your audience driving your UX process.

    Seems that every second SME/SMB is still not willing to acknowledge digital as a legitimate business worthy of paying top dollar for, yet they wonder why their website lacks these basic components and is not performing. And if you're a digital agency who neglects to include these things for clients, shame on you.

    SMBs need to understand that a website is not just a business card with more space for content.

    The main reason your website will fail lies in the lack of purpose and ongoing digital strategy around having a website in the first place. I'm not talking about AdWords and SEO here, I'm talking about UX, providing real online presence and brand loyalty. Understand your audience, do some real research on what they're looking for, what they want from your business and your competitors, and design to meet their needs, then, continue to make your website meaningful for the next 2-3 year lifespan.

    A website in 2013 is not a shop front window that you can leave unattended once it's built. The completion of the build is only the beginning, and this is as valid for SMEs as it is for enterprise / corporations.

    Websites require serious levels of commitment and attention if you truly want to succeed in drawing in immense opportunities online instead of just being one of those "me too, I have a site" SMBs. If you don't have the resources in your business to tend to your site, even through a third party agency, then your website will fail to realise its true ROI potential.

    If you're interested in chatting more about this, contact www.getstarted.com.au.

  • by Brian Schmitz Sun Apr 14, 2013 via web

    #1 reason? "Not Built Right (for Mobile Devices)" Here's an appropriate bonus read: "A responsive website. Does your brand really need one?" http://indeliblebranding.com/responsive-website-brand-one/

  • by Bart Foreman Tue Apr 16, 2013 via web

    This article really is spot on. Thanks for the insights. Putting my team to work.

  • by Jonah Wed Apr 17, 2013 via web

    I believe the article is good as it gives some insights of the things that can lead to failure of SMBs.
    Although there are many other important reasons which are left out of this article.

  • by Barry Feldman Sat Apr 20, 2013 via web

    56.3% of SMB websites have no keyword info for search engine discovery.

    Holy shit! Wake up SMBs.

  • by Gonzalo Thu May 16, 2013 via web

    Great article. I like Bislr's (www.bislr.com) approach to these challenges: Bislr lets SMBs build intelligent websites that have social, mobile and lead gen at their core.

  • by Trey Mon Jul 15, 2013 via web

    To have a successful website, a company must have a great product. Then comes great design, forms and SEO. IF you have a great product and then a website that markets it well, the rest will take care of itself.

  • by Jim Sat Aug 3, 2013 via web

    Thanks for the interesting information.

  • by Lakshan Sun Jan 19, 2014 via web

    I agree with Andrew. Bad UX can send the most well-meaning websites into a downward spiral. In fact, great UX can be ensured with a little attention. Here are some goofups to avoid http://bit.ly/1aCfDj9

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