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Study: More SMBs Have Social Presence (61%) than Website (56%)

In December 2014 I posted about the two-fold problem facing local marketing providers as it relates to SMB websites: many SMBs still don’t have one and those that do aren’t happy with them. Studies at the time said that around half of SMBs didn’t have a website and more recently, a 2016 study found only 9% of SMBs are “definitely satisfied” with their website.

Two years after writing that post, not much has changed as it relates to websites. A new Capital One survey of 400 SMBs found that only 56% of SMBs have a company website compared to 61% that are utilizing social media for their business. While SMB website adoption still hovers around 50% like it did in 2014, social media continues to rise in usage among SMBs.

Another interesting point from the study was that 32% said increasing advertising and marketing efforts would best improve their business in 2017, while only 14% said the same about creating a website. With 44% without a website, and only 14% saying a website would improve business, it is clear these businesses don’t see websites as a growth strategy.

One explanation that can be derived from the data is that for many of these businesses, social media is a stand-in for a website and accomplishes what a website does and can do more in some cases. However, cost and lacking perceived value could also be keeping SMBs away from investing in a website but this isn’t made clear in the study.

Based on the data, SMBs appear disconnected from consumer behavior. Many studies point to websites as a critical tool on the path to purchase. A BrightLocal study found that after reading a positive online review, 54% of consumers visited the company website. A 2015 study found that websites are the second most-trusted advertising source behind “recommendations from people I know.”

However this disconnect between SMBs and consumer behavior may be a reflection of the survey data, rather than the SMBs. A new Borrell Associates study of over 7,000 SMBs found that they believe websites are the second most effective channel for growing new customers behind referrals.

Whether SMBs truly are lagging behind consumer behavior or the survey data isn’t reflective of the broader SMB market or both, websites are still a pain point for SMBs and have been for years. While lacking website adoption has remained constant in the SMB community, social media appears to be accelerating. Social ads are too, as reflected by Facebook advertiser growth.

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