Many small businesses are behind on technology trends and it could be costing them.
According to Yodle’s Small Business Sentiment Survey, 52 percent of American small business owners do not have a website and 90 percent do not have a mobile-optimized site. Only 34 percent use technology for customer relationship management and 14 percent use it for acquisition marketing. Only 11 percent have used social media as a method for finding new customers.
What does this mean for business?
By lacking an online presence, many small businesses are missing out on sales. Author Erika Andersen described the need for an updated website in a Forbes article:
“I know that when I’m looking for a local business to deal with, the first place I look is online,” she wrote. “If that store, restaurant or service doesn’t have an up-to-date website or contact information, I discount it immediately. I assume (rightly or wrongly) that the enterprise is unprofessional and low quality.”
For consumers that rely on digital media, having no website is the equivalent of having boarded up windows. It gives consumers the impression of an outdated and incompetent service.
The stakes are especially high for owners of shops, restaurants, and services that rely on drive-up traffic. These businesses could miss out on customers who use mobile surfing to choose their destinations. For the couple who likes to preview menus from their smartphone before selecting a restaurant, the 90 percent of businesses that lack a mobile-optimized site will be quickly discarded.
Some businesses might believe their absence from the web is OK because their customer-base is not web users. For example, those with elderly customers might believe their market is offline. But today, these demographic gaps in internet-usage are closing. Pew Research Center revealed this year that 54 percent of people over 65 use the internet, including a third of people over 77. Businesses might be surprised to discover the web aptitude of their patrons and the numbers of tech-savvy customers are certain to increase as time goes on.
Fear of bad publicity
Some businesses have veered away from a web presence for a different reason altogether. Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, described an encounter with a business owner who was so fearful of negative reviews she avoided setting up a Yelp account. Lesonsky, however, says that hiding from criticism is harmful. In a blog post on Open Forum, she writes:
“The fact is consumers say things (good and bad) about businesses every day. If you’re not aware of what they’re saying, you’re allowing the negative reviews to go uncontested, which leads other consumers to think they’re true.”
On the other hand, politely engaging with reviewers shows that owners are making an effort, she explains. It shows that customer satisfaction is important to a business and could very well redeem a negative review.
The benefits of new technology – including web and mobile-optimized pages – are plentiful, but what stands in the way for many businesses is funding. Because getting a small business loan from banks can be challenging and time-consuming, businesses may have delayed technology investments. Financing from National Funding, however, avoids the mounds of paperwork and long delays for approval. Investing in your business is a fast and hassle-free process.