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01/24/2012

Study Emphasizes Importance of Maintaining Strong Web Presence for Small Design Firms

Study finds that 35% of potential customers have walked away from a small business because of a poor website

 

45 percent of respondents believe that a bad website makes a worse impact than a business having no website at all.

Study Emphasizes Importance of Maintaining Strong Web Presence for Small Design Firms

PHILADELPHIA—A total of 46 percent of U.S. consumers have cancelled plans to spend with a small business after discovering a poor quality website, according to research recently released by 1&1 Internet Inc., www.1and1.com, a web hosting company. From a study of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, 35 percent have walked away completely and an additional 7 percent have opted to spend less as a direct result. Many consumers feel that small business websites today are mostly unattractive and often contain errors.

The majority of US businesses have now taken steps to launch a website and battle for valuable online visibility. However, 1&1’s "2011 Virtual Main Street Audit" finds worryingly low levels of consumer satisfaction with the small business websites available for them. The risk to SMBs from providing a bad online experience is clear—45 percent of consumers believe that a bad website makes a worse impact than a business having no website at all. This conclusion has led 35 percent to walk away from companies completely, in favor of using a competitor. An additional 7 percent of Americans have found themselves reducing their spending with small companies as a direct result of being deterred by a poor company website.

Oliver Mauss, CEO of 1&1 Internet, Inc. says, “Research shows that keeping an unattractive or badly functioning website online can comprise a risk to sales revenue. Consumers have increasingly  high expectations, and it is essential that every company website inspires confidence. Businesses that invest carefully in their web experience will see higher levels of customer spend, retention and referral.”

Many business websites have not evolved as they should have in recent years. One third of consumers surveyed (30 percent) believe they most often lack essential features, 28 percent find that  the small business websites they use are “unimpressive,” and 29 percent frequently find errors such as typos or broken URLs.

Significantly, many American consumers are keen to help business owners create a more satisfying online experience. Given the facility for providing feedback, 35 percent of shoppers would provide a review or recommendation for improving a small business website. Hence, companies should add a feedback form to their website, or set up an e-mail address to collect valuable user-comments.

The data suggests the outlook for online spending remains strong. Nearly two thirds of consumers plan to maintain their level of online spending from 2010, and 23 percent foresee an increase in the number of purchases they will make online. Thus, U.S. businesses can be reassured that investments made to improve their websites will positively impact their bottom line.

Mauss added, “Firms must not shy away from addressing their website’s weaknesses. For all business owners, customer feedback can be a hugely effective weapon for ensuring that the Web is performing for them.”