Internet Future Bright for Small Businesses

by Patricia Fusco

A recent study of small businesses completed by Verizon SuperPages.com provides a compelling argument for using the Internet to expand sales and services in a tough economy.

America's small businesses are dedicating funds to their Internet presence, a sign that they now consider the Internet a business imperative. At least according to Verizon SuperPages.com's fourth annual small business Internet survey conducted by the Gallup Organization.

This year's survey shows that even as the economic recession has affected four out of five small businesses — 40 percent of small businesses surveyed report they are "less profitable" this year and 40 percent report flat profits — 96 percent of small businesses still plan to maintain or increase Internet expenditures in 2003.

"Today's small businesses are beginning to treat the Internet as a standard marketing and advertising tool," said Patrick Marshall, group vice president of marketing of Verizon Information Services. "Our experience with our own small business customers underscores this trend."

Despite the uncertain economy, SuperPages.com has experienced a more than 30 percent increase in customers this year. Also, the average amount of money each SuperPages.com customer invested in their annual Internet presence increased nearly 30 percent in 2002.

"Small businesses that use the Web to market their products and services outperform those that don't. The promise of the Internet is starting to pay off," said Marshall.

Exceeding Expectations
After launching a Web site, 41 percent of small businesses report an increase in their sales volume, and more than half (55 percent) of small businesses with a Web site say their Web sites have generated a profit or paid for themselves. Of the small businesses still without a Web site, 26 percent report they will create Web sites in 2003.

Overall, 63 percent of small businesses intend to upgrade the functionality of their Web sites. Additional findings include:

  • 54 percent of small businesses will add a list of products or services on their Web site in 2003.

  • 53 percent plan to change the design of their Web site this year.

Nearly half of small businesses with a Web site (47 percent) report they are more satisfied this year with their Web site than last year, and 42 percent say their Web site has exceeded or met expectations in 2002.

"There is a direct correlation between small businesses' increased use of the Internet and their satisfaction level. The ease of use and availability of online advertising tools is fueling additional investment in Internet activities," added Marshall. "As small businesses continue to adopt the tools big businesses are using, including Voice over IP, video and audio enhancements and second-language marketing, the number of small businesses online will continue to grow."

About The Study
Verizon SuperPages.com, one of the Internet's top online directories, provides Web development and Internet advertising services for more than 100,000 businesses small- to medium-sized businesses. SuperPages.com receives as many as 14 million visits and 9 million unique visitors a month and powers directory services on MSN, InfoSpace, AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, and Ask Jeeves, as well as more than 2,500 affiliate Web sites.

The Gallup Organization conducted the small business Internet survey for Verizon Information Services. This is the fourth annual survey sponsored by Verizon. The on-going study is intended to monitor small businesses in the U.S. with regard to their attitudes toward and involvement with the Internet as a small business tool. The random telephone survey of 500 U.S. companies that have 50 or fewer was conducted in September 2002.

This article was originally published on Tuesday Jan 14th 2003
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