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Micro-SMBs and Websites – Still An Issue seen in BIA/Kelsey’s LCM 20 Results

by | Oct 11, 2016 | BIA, Blog, SMBs

Just 40.3% of small businesses use websites for advertising or promotion purposes, according to BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor™ (Wave 20) survey of businesses with less than 100 employees conducted in Q3 2016. Where are the other 60%?

Websites rank among the top 10 media used for advertising in terms of ROI. About two-thirds (67.3%) of small businesses report getting at least a five times return on their website investments. Driving website traffic and click throughs also are some of their most important metrics for determining advertising results, according to 40.9% of small businesses.

So how does this add up? small businesses report that websites ( 1) have high ROI, (2) drive some of their top metrics to determine the success of advertising and (3) of course are critical to SEO. With these positives, why aren’t the other 60% of small businesses using websites as part of their marketing mix?

Price and complexity could be a barrier for some SMBs. We estimate that smaller SMBs (less than $25K annual ad budget) spend an average of $1,761 per year on their websites. That can be a big number for the really small, micro-SMBs that comprise the biggest part of the small business market. Furthermore, the complexities of dealing with websites that these days must be fully featured and mobile friendly to meet customer expectations create further challenges.

Small businesses are price sensitive in their marketing solutions. About half  (48.2%) of small businesses prefer “Do It Yourself” (DIY) models for advertising. Most (57.3%) cite DIY as less expensive and 42.2% say it works well. So far so good.

But the stakes are getting higher for websites. Even as 60.8% of SMBs want new technologies for advertising and promotion to be easy to use, we see more innovations and technology introduced making it harder for small businesses to keep up in the digital world. And increasingly the front line in marketing is requiring better integration in digital and physical customer touch points.  A tall order for micro-SMBs.

We’ve talked in the past about micro-SMBs and the challenges they face. At one of our conferences, we featured Scott Bowen, VP and GM Vistaprint Digital and their approach to this market segment with solutions. We spoke with Scott last week to get an update on Vistaprint’s roadmap for this segment that was tied to today’s announcement by Vistaprint Digital of a new web-building platform that empowers SMBs with a platform offering tools, templates, designs both for  their websites and also physical marketing assets including promotional print materials.

Here’s an example of the new kinds of solutions micro-SMBs now have available to them. Vistaprint Digital uses a relatively easy on-boarding process offering templates, professional design selections, automation and personalization to create solutions suited to the needs of the micro-SMB market.


That stakes for small businesses are high when it comes to getting their websites right and bridging these into print channels. Bowen shared that, “We recently found that one-third of consumers discover small businesses for the first time online, but 45 percent are unlikely to shop at one with a poorly designed website,” Bowen said. “To stand out in a crowded market, the business owners we serve need a professional online presence today. They need to be able to easily create a professional, consistent brand across print and digital.”

With more overall ad spend going to digital yet higher stakes in the need to bridge digital and physical marketing worlds for more effective consumer touch points, we’re expecting more of the long-tail micro-small business market segment to look for these types of solutions in the future.