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SMB Websites: Error Page Not Found

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A recent dealer survey from Outdoor Power Equipment exposed some interesting facts about the current online presence of US Outdoor Power (i.e. lawn & garden equipment) dealers. The 2016 survey of more than 100 dealers revealed that 77% of dealers had a website. This was up dramatically from 2001 when only 48.7% had an online presence. While this might sound like a very high number, it left me wondering about the other 23%. What were they thinking?

Juxtapose that finding with the LSA survey of how consumers found local businesses in a given week (Local Media Tracking Study Year End Report – 2014). Out of 8,591 searches, 174 of them were looking for Lawn & Garden Equipment retailers, 107 for lawnmower repair and 69 for Landscape Equipment that week for a total of 350 searches.

Here’s the interesting part: the majority of them used an online search engine to find those businesses (56% weighted average). The next highest method used to find these local SMB’s was spread between Store Circulars, Yellow pages and other means. In fact, you could argue that between Internet Yellow Pages, and Social Media options in the survey that the total using online methods to find these businesses was closer to 75%.

How is it then that in 2016, 23% of Lawn and Garden dealers don’t feel the need to have a website and optimize that website for search engines? This incidentally was the same percentage as the 2014 survey, so it leveled off with no growth.

To pile on a bit more, eMarketer published a survey of U.S. Digital Users in February 2017 that said that 80% would use a mobile device to locate a business in 2017. You could assume that all of those Lawn and Garden Equipment dealers had a mobile optimized website, but that might be optimistic. Recent eMarketer analysis from 2016 put that percentage closer to 50%.

In case you think I’m picking on one type of retailer, of the numbers of consumers who searched for local businesses in the past week, search engines were the most used media outlet by far. Out of 142 types of products/businesses listed, only three had a percentage of online search engine usage less than another type of media.

We online marketers can often be drawn to focus on the latest trends (wearables, virtual reality, IoT) which are all very cool, but I’d argue that until we get our SMB website percentage up toward 100%, with mobile optimization following closely behind – we have a lot more work to do.

One Response to “SMB Websites: Error Page Not Found”

  1. Martin says:

    Hi Brett,

    my guess we will never get close to 100% and the reasons are twofold.

    1) Very small businesses owners sometimes have a different business attitude that managers in larger companies. Growth is not the ultimate goal but a lot of them rather seek a decent work/life balance. If their business is established they might get sufficient new customers by word of moth (still one of the most important lead sources for SMBs) and they simply do not have the need to get a website to generate more customers.

    2) More and more SMBs choose to have a different online presence than a website. For companies with rather simple products and services which are highly standardised it might not make sense to have a website as their customers simply do not care enough. All their customers need are their address and opening hours, hence a decent Google My Business/Maps entry might be enough. For others a Facebook Page is a better “deal” as they can more easily interact with their customers.

    Best
    Martin

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