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.
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.
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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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