The website. It made promises. It was supposed to be the solution to your future success as a small business owner. Make your website look professional and watch the sales roll in, they said. Produce great content on your website and you’re destined for revenue, they said. Build your website yourself, it’s easy, they said.
Perhaps no other segment has been targeted more by sales vendors than small business owners during the past 5 years. There’s certainly no shortage of “experts” or software solutions flying around the industry, touting themselves as “the answer” to your website and your business.
You’d think that with all this money, time, people, choice, education and resources pouring into the small business website space that things must be great, right?
Not so fast This isn’t one of those “startup disruption” pitches in which I announce that the SMB website space is broken and it’s time for a change. No. This notion of doubt comes directly from the source, over 100,000 small businesses right here in North America. Alignable (full transparency, I work for Alignable) recently released a study, analyzing the state of website satisfaction for small business owners, and the results are worth your consideration.
Website performance - One question from the study asked small business owners - “are you satisfied with the amount of business your website generates for you?” Only 9% of small business owners said that they were definitely satisfied. That means a whopping 91% of are looking for more out of their website.
So what is the answer to increase satisfaction levels? According to a HubSpot study done last year, publishing new content multiple times per week will produce significant website traffic – but even with all of the growth around content/inbound marketing over the past few years, there’s still plenty of room to grow.
Content creation - A second question from the study dug deeper into the dissatisfaction with website performance. When asked how often they’re producing new content/blogging on their website, only 26% of business owners said they were doing so once a week. This means that 74% of small business owners are producing new content less than once per month.
Had the data said that only 40% of business owners were happy, that would be one thing, but 9% is definitive. Clearly, the website optimization/adoption levels that are happening across medium/enterprise businesses are not representative of small business owners.
The problem is clear – Small business owners want more from their website in the form of more traffic and more conversions.
The solution is less clear – While content marketing can bring additional traffic to websites, small business owners haven’t been able to justify the time over the past few years to consistently publish.
Now what? The first question to answer as a small business owner is whether or not your website provides a high quality experience for potential customers, which you can find out here. If the answer is no, then consider contacting a local web designer or using a DIY website builder...but be careful who you trust and ask fellow business owners about their experiences first so you can avoid unnecessary mistakes.
If you’re confident in your current website, then it comes down to how much you believe in the potential of a website for your business. For some, focusing on traditional marketing will continue to be their priority. For others, dedicating time/resources to building a great website will be the priority. In order to ensure that the time/money you spend on your website is worthwhile, setting goals is paramount.
Dedicate a few hours per week to producing content. If you don’t have time to produce content, consider hiring a part-time writer or spend time researching a content marketplace.
Have an easy way on your website to capture email addresses to make sure that you can contact website visitors with a weekly email to tell them about promotions, sales and more awesome content. This is free to use.
For those that want to improve the current performance of their website, there is no easy answer. Yes, you could go spend a boatload of cash on Google Adwords of Facebook ads, but if you don’t have the budget/time to manage those programs, then you’re going to need to make up for it with time and energy. The good news, is that if you spend your time wisely improving your website, the benefits will justify the efforts.
Dan Slagen is currently CMO at Alignable. A frequent speaker and guest contributor, Dan has been featured in The New York Times, Bloomberg TV, WSJ and Forbes. He advises startups and marketing departments. With successes in building and scaling comprehensive marketing teams, Dan has lead teams at HubSpot, Wayfair and others. In addition to marketing experience both on and offline, Dan has forged strategic marketing partnerships with companies including Google, Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Connect with Dan on Twitter and LinkedIn.