SMBs: Our Websites ‘Critical’ but We’re Not Investing in Them

Another survey (from Browser Media) has found a kind of SMB paradox. The December 2013 survey found that SMBs overwhelmingly believe their websites are important or critical to their success but most aren’t investing to improve or market them.

The survey, conducted in the UK with a relatively small sample of 188 mostly SMBs, found that 79% see their websites as very important or critical. However nearly 60% aren’t investing in them.

UK SMBs and websites

This SMB “inertia” (“we recognize it’s important but aren’t doing anything”) was also on display in a recent survey about mobile US and UK SMB mobile marketing from directory publisher Hibu.

In that survey the publisher found that only 6% of respondents had mobile-optimized sites  (45% in both countries had no site). The business owners said a mobile (optimized) site would generate more revenue; yet only 12% said they were likely to develop one in the next 12-18 months.

In an Opus Research survey last year of roughly 1,200 SMBs in the US, the business website was also seen as a critical asset. It was the number one answer to the question, “If you had a significant increase in your [marketing] budget where would you choose to put that money?”

This “passivity,” observed in both the Browser Media and Hibu studies, is very curious. Which of the following do you think best explains it:

  • Lack of money to invest
  • Lack of resources or knowledge of where to turn for marketing/development help
  • Insufficient time to act on desires because of demands of running the business day to day
  • Other

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3 Responses to “SMBs: Our Websites ‘Critical’ but We’re Not Investing in Them”

  1. Rich Hargrave says at

    I’d have to say it’s not a financial issue; they’re so many cost-effective solutions now (including basic free DIY starter sites).

    So that leaves time and knowledge. I believe websites (like advertising) are “sold, and not bought” within the SMB market. In other words, they’ll get online if they’re assisted by a local Rep./Consultant. Self-serve only works with those most aggressive, tech-savvy business owners (and even then they’re often enlisting the assistance of an employee, friend or family member). Still, what if you want to make changes? Who handles the ongoing “care and feeding”? What if the site isn’t mobile optimized? Where do you host, how do you set-up emails, etc.

    One other factor – despite all the studies, SMB’s simple aren’t “in the loop”. I don’t think it’s necessarily any lack of conviction as much as just not really understanding or being aware of the current trends and latest research. 

    At the end of the day, SMBs need hand-holding. They need help, and appreciate simple cost effective solutions that drive transparent ROI. This I believe is not only the case with websites, but with all marketing solutions, financial services and I.T. And, this is best accomplished face-to-face, which is why Facebook should reconsider its decision on resellers.

  2. Jason Wynne says at

    I believe it is a combination of the three with “Lack of resources or knowledge of where to turn for marketing/development help” being the primary road block to moving forward with any investment. Combine this with past experiences, which tend to be bad experiences, and you have a business owners that feel like there is no solution for them. The years of broken promises, deposits that were never returned, half-finished websites, and thousands of unsolicited callers promising to fix it all have left a very jaded group SMB owners with no where to turn. It is my opinion that this group is the large majority and that there is great business opportunity in the solution.

  3. Malcolm Lewis says at

    SMBs can get a mobile-friendly, SEO-optimized website in about a minute on RefGo. With a bit more effort they can add customer reviews and get a profile page that will outrank their own website. Example:

    When looking for a local business, consumers want personal recommendations and, increasingly, they want them on their phone. We help SMBs address that need with nominal effort.

    Full disclosure: RefGo is my company.

  4. Top Marketing Articles of the Week - May 1, 2014 | Greg Caughill says at

    […] 5. SMBs: Our Websites ‘Critical’ but We’re Not Investing in Them […]

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