According to a new survey of 350+ small businesses from Clutch, a B2B research firm, nearly half of small businesses in the U.S. operate without a website.
Among the survey’s findings were that 23 percent of existing small business websites are not mobile-friendly and another 9 percent of respondents said they did not know if their website has mobile capabilities. And 12 percent of respondents are unlikely to have a website in the future.
These numbers made me cringe. There shouldn’t even be one percent of businesses that think they can operate without a website in today’s marketplace. I have to hope this is merely reflective of a small sample size and that none of the respondents were marine businesses. (And it is highly likely they weren't, as 85 percent of Boating Industry readers say they have a website for their business, according to the monthly survey in our upcoming March issue.)
Consider some other important statistics. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. tablet owners and 56 percent of smartphone users use their devices while shopping. Twenty-two percent of consumers learned about the last product they purchased via the Internet. Most importantly, in 2015, Synchrony Financial’s Major Purchase Shopper Study revealed that 80 percent of consumers go online before visiting a store when making a major purchase.
Now ask yourself a very important question: Can you survive without 80 percent of the market?
There was a time when businesses didn’t need a website. They didn’t show any immediate value. But we can’t keep believing that is still true today. That’s like saying you don’t need the front door to your store because it doesn’t offer any immediate return on investment.
If you haven’t mobile optimized your website, or if you still don’t have a website at all, that should be your top priority for your marketing in 2016. You just can’t afford to live without it anymore.
I was just having this same conversation with someone I work with last weekend. "Yesterday" all there was was a phone book for clientele to look you up. "Today" there is the web, and the web serves its purpose. Future customers can find you from miles away, and if the relationship works--you have everything they want/need--it's a lifetime customer. So yes, in today's market, having a website is very crucial.
I wonder what's stopping the companies from bridging the gap from yesterday and today?