website design, seo

 By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you doing the bare minimum when it comes to your small business website? Just having a website is no longer enough (if it ever was). You’ve got to take action to get potential customers to discover, engage with and buy from your business. And that means creating an integrated online marketing plan where all parts of your Web presence work together.

Deluxe Corporation recently polled small business owners to find out what they’re doing online. Here’s some of what they found:

Small business owners say word-of-mouth is their most important way of engaging with customers (73 percent). However, they don’t seem to realize that social media has become a crucial part of word-of-mouth. Just 21 percent say social media is an important way to engage with customers; in comparison, 40 percent say business cards are.

What about websites? While two-thirds of small business owners have a business website, that number is still way too small. As I mentioned earlier, having a website is the bare minimum these days. Small business owners are also falling short in what features they have on their website. Fewer than half have photos or videos; just 32 percent use search engine optimization (SEO), and only 28 percent have reviews or social media share/follow buttons.

Speaking of social media, while 45 percent of small business owners have a Facebook page and 33 percent have a LinkedIn presence, half (51 percent) only post on social media once a month or less.

Somewhat surprisingly, 30 percent of small business owners think they’re proficient or extremely proficient at maintaining their company’s website.

What do these numbers mean to you? Clearly, small business owners have a long way to go when it comes to making their Web presence work for them. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Having a website won’t draw customers in unless you use SEO to increase your ranking in search results. SEO is fairly easy to learn yourself or, if you don’t have the time or inclination, it’s something you can hire someone to spend a few hours a week on for a reasonable price.
  • Put your money where your mouth is. Small business owners who think their websites are important are more likely to spend more time maintaining them, the survey found. It’s pretty obvious, but if your product relies on online sales or customers finding you via online search, you need to put marketing dollars behind optimizing your online presence.
  • The online world works together. Social media amplifies the power of your website and vice versa. Your email marketing messages, social media posts and website content should all refer to one another so that each method of marketing outreach attracts customers to follow you in other ways.

I don’t blame you if you’re not doing all you can with your website. The world of technology changes fast and can be intimidating if it’s not your strong suit. But there are plenty of places to get help, from IT consultants, SEO and social media experts to the free advisors at SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (disclosure: both organizations are clients of my company). So there’s no excuse to do the bare minimum anymore.