Does your small business have a website? That’s great, but it’s not enough anymore. Putting up a website and passively waiting for customers to discover it means you’re basically doing the bare minimum. Being online in itself isn’t enough, according to a recent survey—to really get results from your online presence, you’ve got to create an aggressive, unified online marketing plan that proactively engages customers instead of waiting for them to engage with you.
The survey by Deluxe Corporation polled small business owners to find out what they’re doing online. Here’s some of what it found:
Most small business owners (73 percent) say word-of-mouth is their most important way of engaging with customers. However, apparently they don’t realize that social media has become a crucial part of word-of-mouth. Just 21 percent say social media is an important way to engage with customers; in comparison, 40 percent say business cards are.
What about websites? While 67 percent of the businesses surveyed have a website, that number is still way too small. And, as I mentioned earlier, having a website is the bare minimum these days. The small businesses with websites are also falling short in what features they have on their sites. Fewer than half have photos or videos; just 32 percent use search engine optimization (SEO), and only 28 percent have reviews or social media share/follow buttons.
Speaking of social media, while 45 percent of small business owners have a Facebook page and 33 percent have a LinkedIn presence, a little more than half post on social media only once a month or less.
Somewhat surprisingly, 30 percent of small business owners think they’re proficient or extremely proficient at maintaining their company’s website.
What do these numbers mean to you? Clearly, small business owners have a long way to go when it comes to making their web presence work for them. Some things to keep in mind:
- Having a website won’t draw customers in unless you use SEO to increase your ranking in search results. SEO is fairly easy to learn yourself or, if you don’t have the time or inclination, it’s something you can hire someone to spend a few hours a week on for a reasonable price.
- Put your money where your mouth is. Small business owners who consider their websites important are more likely to spend more time maintaining them, the survey found. It’s pretty obvious, but if your product relies on online sales or customers finding you via online search, you need to put marketing dollars behind optimizing your online presence.
- The online world works together. Social media amplifies the power of your website and vice versa. Your email marketing messages, social media posts and website content should all refer to one another so that each method of marketing outreach attracts customers to follow you in other ways.
I don’t blame you if you’re not doing all you can with your website. The world of technology changes fast and can be intimidating if it’s not your strong suit. But there are people out there who can help—first and foremost, your SCORE mentor. Don’t have a mentor yet? Visit www.score.org to get one.