No Guesswork Here: Web Sites Work For SMBs

Thursday Oct 13th 2005 by Sean Michael Kerner
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Web sites are more than image-builders for small-to-medium-sized businesses. They're about leads and sales as well, according to Interland's Summer 2005 Small and Medium-sized Business Barometer report.

According to the ISP Interland's Summer 2005 Small and Medium-sized Business Barometer, 76 percent of SMBs said they pluck plenty of leads from their Web sites. Another 57 noted in the survey said they generate leads their Web sites. Fifty-seven percent said they made money either directly or via offline purchases influenced by their Web sites.

And putting up e-commerce features tends to generate, well, e-commerce. Take small businesses that deployed features such as online payment forms on their sites: a whopping 82 percent of the survey reported that they generate monthly revenue via their Web site.

Among the features that SMBs said they use to help market their Web sites, e-mail marketing topped them all at 60 percent. Another 54 percent said they deploy search engine optimization to make sure they're found online, and 27 percent said they use online coupons. But only 20 percent indicated they use pay-per-click as a marketing tool. Sales-generating technologies filling out the bottom of the list include blogs (19 percent), podcasting (11 percent) and RSS (10 percent).

SMBs also apparently update their Web sites more often. In an Interland report from the fall of 2003 only 37 percent of respondents indicated they update their site once a month or more. That number has jumped to 52 percent in the current study. The report also indicated the frequency of updates tends to increase once the Web site has been online for a period greater than one year.

Sales weren't the only criteria by which SMBs evaluate the success of their sites. The study found that a majority (54 percent) of respondents use customer and prospect comments as a success-evaluation criterion. Site traffic (48 percent) came in second. Sales leads came in third at 36 percent and online sales ranked fourth at 24 percent.

Twenty-one percent of respondents noted improved efficiency — such a reduction in phone calls.

On different note, the study also found that 70 percent of SMBs reported backing up their computer files on a weekly basis and 34 percent back up on a daily basis. 97 percent said they have anti-virus software on their PCs and 80 percent have anti-spyware tools installed.

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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