Why don’t more businesses have a website and use inbound marketing?

Online Marketing, Don’t Wait For Your Competitors To Make The First Move

vortex-small-business-marketingI have a number of monthly conversations with small to medium-sized business owners about the use of social media, web analytics or a new website to improve sales and marketing efforts. Unless the prospect is already up to speed with the benefits of inbound activities, the discussion is more of an educational process.

I was curious why there isn’t more awareness of or inclination to use inbound methodologies, and came across an article by Erika Andersen in the online version of Forbes entitled, How Small Business Owners Are Wrecking Their Own Chances Of Success. Erika had expertly summarized the results of a Yodle survey  and report of small businesses and their use of technology and marketing tools.

I’m sharing my own observations about the survey because according to Erika’s article, small business accounts for about 54% of all sales in the US.

The statistics from this survey are both interesting and alarming…

A third of small business owners have been in business over 20 years.

Successful small business owners tend to use the approaches that have worked over time, and much of what they learned about success happened before the web really took off. 80% of small businesses find referral or word-of-mouth most effective.

The Disconnect? Perhaps understandably, at the 20-year mark, some businesses decide to “ride it out” to a sale or closing doing things the way they always have. Owners may have trouble getting out of their “comfort zone.” Traditional techniques for earning and maintaining business still work, but ignore the cultural shift to online search and growing use of smart phones and tablets.

The Solution: Leverage websites and inbound marketing, take advantage of the technology trend towards smart phones and tablets. The web is actually another form of referral and word-of-mouth marketing. This free factbook will help you understand why.

Over 80% of small business owners are over the age of 50.

In small businesses – especially trades, it takes time to learn all the in’s and out’s and build a successful company. The rewards often can’t be reaped until a solid base has been established. That can mean a few decades of hard work. In these situations, profit and benefits are often enjoyed toward the end of the businesses’ life cycle.

Where’s the disconnect? The “fifty-somethings” certainly know how to use the web to find what they want and need from others, but many are not comfortable turning the equation around and helping the world use online tools to find them.

Solution: It’s never to late to plan and develop and effective inbound program. Implementing a successful online marketing program can add dimension to a business which in turn can make it more valuable.

Over 60% have 1-5 employees

Many small businesses don’t require a big staff to deliver the goods and services they offer. In these situations, marketing takes a back seat to other activities. Small business owners focus more on what’s “in the shop” more than “feeding the pipeline” of future sales. Until recently, their reputation, product and word-of-mouth were the primary marketing tools and thinking beyond that may seem unnecessary.

Where’s the disconnect? According to experts, inbound marketing requires 8-20 hours a week at a minimum to make progress and see results within the first 6 months. That’s a meaningful amount of staff time for a small business.

Solution: The only way to solve the new demand on staff time that inbound marketing creates is to consider hiring freelance help, or locate a qualified inbound specialist. If you’re serious, the latter is the best way to proceed. A specialist like Vortex can help you identify challenges and pain points and develop a comprehensive plan to reach attainable goals.

Almost 80% of small-business owners are sole owners

Sole ownership usually means the company is run with a top-down approach to decision-making about marketing and sales. Typically, the owner has the most contact with existing and potential customers and the clearest picture of what’s needed in terms of product, service and sales. If you are starting to attract prospects and leads through website and social media, there’s less direct contact and less clarity about what your visitors want and need.

Where’s the disconnect? Top-down management approaches can certainly streamline efforts and increase productivity, but may leave out insight from the entire company that may more accurately reflect the marketplace.

Solution: If you’re an owner, recognize that great ideas are percolating among your team. Engage your entire staff in a discussion of how online marketing may help improve the sales and marketing of your product and services.

52% of small business owners do not have a website

Surprised? This explains why we are seeing so much advertising for “do-it-yourself” website solutions. Unfortunately, the challenge of creating a website is not in the build, it’s the design and content portion of the project.

Where’s the disconnect? Most small business owners know their industry and trade well, but they generally lack the expertise and confidence in how to leverage a website, social media or inbound program. They often see a website as a necessity more than an opportunity.

Solution: Effective website design goes beyond templates, and focuses content around your buyer personas. No matter how busy you are, a strong website and inbound program can make things even better.

Only 14% employ technology for Acquisition Marketing

While most small businesses have integrated technology for every other aspect of their business, when it comes to acquisition marketing, they’re still doing things the old way.

Where’s the disconnect? In the past few years, a full range of online marketing platforms have come onto the market that small businesses are not aware of. It’s difficult to know which tools are best for their business without a good recommendation. In these situations, owners tend to fall back to simplified social media and email platforms that don’t fully serve their needs.

Solution: Many established and respected companies are offering a sophisticated suite of tools to help you connect with prospects and drive sales. With the help of a qualified inbound professional, getting started is easy, and you can add-on when the time is right.

Over 56% do not measure results of their marketing efforts.

Other than making lists of email addresses, there’s often no tracking system in place. In these situations, small businesses tend to look at monthly or quarterly business accounting as their reporting tool of choice. If sales are up and costs are down, the system in place is thought to be working.

Where’s the disconnect? The primary problem with using accounting as a reporting tool is that it is historical in nature and provides no real-time insight to the effectiveness of marketing efforts.

Solution: Integrating a well-designed online marketing platform can inform and improve your efforts. A small business owner can have instant access to what is working and what is not. Adjustments and changes can be made early on and along the way. Even though the cost of using analytics systems may seem high, when compared with other expenses, the return is actually higher. Another big advantage of online marketing platforms is that they can be automated to nurture the sales conversion process.

Get on the Right Side of the Statistics Starting Today.

Ask yourself if you would like more business or qualified leads. If the answer is yes, I highly recommend implementing an online marketing strategy that extends beyond your existing referral and word-of-mouth approaches. Online marketing can be effective for many types of small businesses including law firms and accountants, and physicians.

If you’re not sure where to begin, give us a call. We can help determine how inbound marketing can best serve you. The cost of a comprehensive inbound program can compete with “social only” approaches and deliver more effective results.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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