Does a Website Make a Difference?
We met the other day with the owner of a company that currently has no website. He asked for numbers: could we give him any numbers that showed a difference for companies when they had a website, compared with those that do not?
I couldn’t, off the top of my head. I have figures for how a blog improves business and how website upkeep improves business, but I had never before been asked for data on how a website improves business.
It’s hard to find. The assumption is that everyone has a website, but estimates of how many small businesses have no website at all range from 30-50% (mostly depending on the definition of “small business”). The benefits of having a website are clear:
- Most consumers look for information first online (not most young consumers or more tech-savvy consumers: most consumers).
- Most consumers research their options online before visiting a store or talking to a salesperson.
- A Nielsen study in April of 2012 found that more than half of consumers trust company websites, while fewer than half trust ads on TV or in print.
- Consumers consistently say they trust companies that have websites more than those that do not (numbers vary in surveys from a 30% to 80% greater degree of trust; lower numbers come from older studies).
- Your website, unlike your office, is open for business 24/7.
- 80% of companies that have a website, according to a recent study by 1&1, consider their websites essential to their success.
- Your website can reach more people than the number walking by your office door.
- People need to hear about your offer 5-12 times before they take action, and your website can provide quite a few of those interactions — especially in combination with social media and other elements of a good online marketing strategy.
- When customers ask, “Can I check that on your website?” or “Do you have this online?” and you admit that you have no website, they will think, “OMG! You don’t have a website? Did I take a time machine here?” This is not what you want.
When it comes to numbers, though, there don’t seem to be any current ones. A long time ago in internet years, the Small Business Administration found that businesses with websites had 39% more revenue than businesses without websites. In those days, that was $1.07 million, on average. Barlow research, in 2008, found that businesses with millions in revenue were way more likely to have websites: 73% of those making more than $5 million p.a. had websites way back then, compared with less than half of companies earning $100,000 a year. The correlation was clear throughout their research, in fact: the more money a company made, the more likely they were to have a website.
Have things changed? Is it now less important to have a website, and do websites contribute less to profits? By no means. It’s just considered so obvious now that every company needs an online presence that nobody is studying this question any more.
I’m happy to say that we’ll be getting the company in question online very soon now. I’m going to make sure to ask him whether it makes a difference. It won’t be a scientific study, but it’ll be a number for the next time I’m asked that question.
If you don’t have a website for your business, call Julianne at 479.966.9761 to discuss your needs.