62% of Small Businesses Do Not Have a Website: the Glass is 38% Full
I stumbled onto an article on Entrepreneur’s website (Turn Web Traffic Into Foot Traffic; Justin Kitch) that changed one of my basic assumptions, which was that "most" businesses have a website. Note the imprecision in the word "most," which is a hallmark of bad assumptions; I should have known. The survey from which the numbers were taken is recent: April 2009.
Clearly, the benefits of online marketing are not as well known to the general public as "most" of us in the online industry believe. Or maybe people have some idea of the benefits, but aren’t sure how to get started and follow through. Maybe it’s just easier to let their local Yellow Pages provider sell them an overpriced and under-performing print ad. (BTW, I called Dex to inquire about pricing for Yellow Pages advertising, and they took my information and told me they would have a "marketing consultant" contact me in 5-7 business days. I promise to share the results in a future post.) Or maybe it’s all of the above.
The business and marketing landscape is changing: advertising does not yield the same results it did even a decade ago (I looked hard for data, but was confronted with words like "colinearity" and other words I’ve never read before. My personal belief is that the difficulty of determining ROI on advertising has resulted in a great deal of obfuscation). People’s behavior when they are preparing to buy is changing: a Performics survey indicated 75% of baby boomers use search engines when looking for information to assist in the purchase of automobiles, appliances and electronics. But so far, only 38% of small businesses even have an online channel with which to speak to their customers and prospects. In 2009, that’s almost unbelievable.
As I mentioned, I had hoped to do a comparison between online marketing and Yellow Pages advertising. Sort of a "Marketing Media Smackdown." That will have to wait until the lumbering Yellow Pages mechanism fires up enough neurons to contact me. Watch this space.
August 2009 update: I had reason to go look up the study referenced in Justin’s post. It turns out that 38% of small businesses surveyed did NOT have a website. The figure was 37%. What about the other 1%? They "weren’t sure."