While many small businesses find a website to be a critical element in running a company in the digital age, a significant portion still do not consider it to be vital. A recent survey from the portfolio website firm Visual Objects found that over a third of small businesses (40 percent) have not invested in a website. It also found that 28 percent are unlikely to create one in the future.
The firm polled 529 small business owners in the United States. Quality websites are “affordable and accessible,” and those businesses without them are making a conscious choice to avoid having a website. Although cost is often cited as a reason, 65 percent of those polled said they spent less than $10,000 to design, build and launch a website.
“Website builders such as Squarespace and Wix help small businesses establish a basic website presence quickly without budgetary strain,” Visual Objects said in a news release. “However, the ability of these website tools is limited, and the advanced design features are often beyond the average small business owner’s skill level.”
Of those businesses that do not have a website, 28 percent say that one is irrelevant to their company’s needs. According to Visual Objects, these businesses tend to leverage personal networks and “traditional” marketing strategies, including email and public relations.
The firm found that the majority of small businesses believe a website is a key component of a successful digital marketing strategy, and 60 percent of those polled do, in fact, have one. They are used primarily to “establish brand, legitimacy and authority.”
Despite most businesses finding websites financially viable, cost is still one of the main reasons given by those who have not taken the plunge. Other reasons cited in the report include the ability to use social media as a web presence, and website builders not being as easy to use for the “lay person,” as they present themselves to be.
According to the survey, about 20 percent of small businesses use a web design agency to maintain their website. Fifty-two percent, on the other hand, use in-house employees to maintain their site. Sometimes, these folks just don’t have the skills necessary for complex website features.
Other noteworthy findings from the survey include:
Nearly a third of small businesses (30 percent) use their websites to drive revenue.
Low website traffic (19 percent) and competition from other businesses (19 percent) were the most common challenges for small business websites last year.
Over a third of small businesses (37 percent) plan to increase spending on their websites this year.
Small businesses, which do not currently have a website, may want to reconsider since many consumers look to the web first and foremost. The lack of a website can reflect poorly on your business’s image and may make you seem less credible. If potential customers find your competitors’ websites, and your company is nowhere to be found, you can bet that you’re losing business as a result.