Re-posted from eMarketer
Small and medium-sized businesses have reported plans to up website spending, but how many are actually using them? According to July 2014 polling by Gallup and Wells Fargo, the percentage of small businesses with websites had risen just slightly over the past few years. In Q3 2014, 59% of US small-business owners (SBOs) said their companies had websites, up from 54% in Q2 2011.
Among SBOs whose businesses had websites, advertising products and services held steady as the top use case, cited by 89% of respondents in Q3 2014. After dipping 1 percentage point in usage between Q4 2009 and Q2 2011, soliciting customer queries or feedback on sites maintained its 64% response rate, followed closely by using websites to actually sell products and services. Though still cited by the majority of respondents, the biggest change was seen in using websites as a communications portal for customers, suppliers and employees, which dropped 7 percentage points between Q2 2011 and Q3 2014. One reason for this change could be due to technology advancements over the past few years, causing small businesses to shift to platforms designed specifically for communication. An April 2014 study by Research Now for Deluxe found that photos and videos were the most common website features used by US SBOs, cited by 49%. Search engine optimization ranked second (32% of respondents), followed by reviews (28%) and social media share and follow buttons (28%).
However, with mobile grabbing an ever-increasing share of consumer time and activity, regular websites aren’t necessarily enough anymore—mobile-optimized versions have come onto the scene. Here, Wells Fargo and Gallup found that just over half of SBOs whose businesses had a website also had a mobile site or one that was optimized for mobile. Based on a Q1 2014 survey by Market Probe International for U.S. Bank, SBOs may want to up mobile website efforts. Nearly seven in 10 US SBOs polled said that offering a mobile-friendly website was the tactic that contributed the most value to overall business strategy—the No. 1 response.
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