Why are SMBs lagging behind online?

It’s a sad truth that many SMBs are lagging behind online. Do a search of small businesses and you’ll find plenty of out-of-date websites. Old content, legacy code and old fashioned practises are often compounded by poor design, lack of SEO, no support for mobile and little sign of social connectivity.

So why is this? What are the barriers?

  • Modern web development isn’t very expensive anymore so it can’t be cost.
  • We all experience modern websites on a daily basis which rules out ignorance.
  • You can’t be a business owner and not have heard about SEO every 5 minutes, or understand its importance.
  • If you’ve ever had to pinch and zoom around a busy website on a smartphone, you’ll appreciate the advantages of a mobile version.
  • And you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years if you still don’t ‘get’ social media and what it can do for your business.

Lack of time and resources

It’s not that business owners don’t have all this in the back of their minds. Marketers and social media gurus have been going on about it for a fair while now. However, it’s worth noting that the lacklustre economy has forced many SMBs to be rather lean. When all hands are to the pumps to keep the ship afloat, it’s understandable that marketing goes down the list of priorities. Sales departments try to take up the slack, but soon find they don’t have the tools they need. The brand looks tired, the online shop window looks like it could do with refit, and opportunities are being missed.

The effect of a dated online stategy

If the marketing department is under resourced (or doesn’t exist in any real shape or form), the company eventually suffers. It doesn’t matter if you’re b2b or b2c, the perception of your brand is everything and how you conduct your business online is one of the main contributing factors. Customers won’t find you. And if they do, they are frustrated by the website and your lack of social connectivity.

Act like a start-up

The things I’ve listed are now the norm for larger organisations, “but the big guys have an army of people to cover it – we do not” is often the cry from SMBs. But what about the start-ups? They do all of this and more. How do they manage it? They do it because they have to. It’s in their DNA from the very beginning. It’s second nature to them and it needs to become second nature to SMBs.

Online marketing needs all your lovin’

The days of building a ‘company website’ and forgetting about it for 5 years are well and truly gone. Your web presence is part of your online brand and needs continual monitoring and appraisal.

  1. Search and social media will increase the number of relevant visitors to your site.
  2. Usability is a key factor in giving those visitors what they came for.
  3. Content must be up-to-date and be easy to digest.
  4. New content must be regular, insightful and have value.
  5. The aesthetics of your website impact on your credibility.
  6. Mobile is growing, so cater for all devices when designing your website.
  7. Social interaction is expected and must be responsive.

All of these practises are now baseline requirements. They are simply what a business needs to do in 2013, as much as paying the rent and the salaries each month. When this is in place and ticking over, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it years ago. Then you’ll be able to start doing the fun stuff, but that’s for another post…

Contact Peter O’Flynn on 01869 243988 if you wish to discuss any of the topics in this post.