Fully 40 percent of small businesses lack a website, a recent Visual Objects survey of 529 small businesses found.
Among those that don't have a website, 28 percent said it would be irrelevant for their business, 23 percent said the cost would be prohibitive, and 13 percent said they use social media for their Web presence.
Freelance logistics and transport consultant Marcos Clowes said he counts on word of mouth instead of building a site. "I receive referrals from trusted friends and colleagues and assist the media with articles that require my areas of expertise," he said. "It generates more than enough business to ensure I don’t feel the need for a website."
Still, 30 percent of small businesses said they use their websites to drive revenue. Twenty-two percent count on websites to build brand awareness, and 17 percent said they do so to establish customer relationships.
A Critical Sales Tool
"The website is a critical sales tool," iXStrata CEO Gerhard Karba said in a statement. "It illustrates to potential clients that you are 'real,' and they can easily see the services you provide. It also allows them to share your website with others."
Forty-three percent of respondents said they first launched their websites before 2018, and 16 percent did so within the past year. Twenty-two percent said they plan to launch a website at some point in the future.
Fifty-two percent of respondents use in-house employees to maintain their websites. Thirty-nine percent use website builder software; 35 percent turn to freelancers or consultants; and 19 percent work with an agency, usually the most expensive route.
Kandula International business strategist Roxana Colorado said she didn't have the budget to pay someone to create a website when she first started, so she did it herself. "The hours spent trying to figure it all out were insane… the learning curve on the development side was huge," she said. "I would have been better off hiring someone."
Investing in a Web Presence
Two thirds of companies spend less than $10,000 to design, build and launch their websites, while 37 percent spend between $10,001 and $25,000, and 19 percent spend more than $25,000.
More than a third of respondents said they plan to increase spending on their websites in 2019.
The leading challenges for small business websites in 2018 were low website traffic (19 percent), competition from other businesses (19 percent), and lack of time and/or knowledge for website maintenance (15 percent).
"A lot of people are trying to transact online these days," Viget user experience director Jackson Fox said in a statement. "It doesn't matter if you're Amazon or a mom-and-pop shop – more and more people want to do that transaction online, or start that transaction online, and a digital presence makes you more legitimate."
"Without a digital presence in some way, people who don't know you just may not trust your business," Fox added.