The state of the economy is directly linked to the health of small businesses in the United States and across most of the world. As consumer confidence weakens, business owners find themselves scrambling for new ways to combat the downward spiral of a recessed economy. Recently released data in the world of small business reveals there is plenty of room for improvement, particularly with Web design and marketing-related expenditures.
Zoomerang, in conjunction with GrowBiz Media, recently surveyed U.S. small business owners about their current marketing budgets in addition to 2011 projections. Seventy-five percent of responders reported marketing budgets of less than $9,000 per year with 25 percent of those below $1,000 per year. With limited resources, small business owners are forced to search for new ways to boost revenue without exceeding tight budgets.
According to the survey,“54 percent of respondents indicated that their businesses currently have websites.” Yet only 45 percent of these websites were focused on lead generation, a mere 30 percent could take online transactions, and only 13 percent had a blog.
To make matters worse, the general consensus among small businesses operating in today’s unique economic environment reveals lead generation is down and online transactions have hit a wall. These issues can be remedied with a good Web designer and experienced professional copywriter, but many business owners are not yet convinced a blog is worth their time and effort.
Whether the purpose is to drive traffic, generate leads, or provide vital information to potential or existing customers, blogs today can have enormous purpose and value. According to a study by Universal McCann,“36 percent [of online users] think more positively about companies that have blogs.” Yet the Small Business Success Index™, a benchmarking survey launched by Networks Solution® and the Center for Excellence in Service, reported a measly 8 percent of small businesses using blogs, 5 percent lower than Zoomerang’s analysis.
The same survey found that only 27 percent of small businesses used Facebook®, while 7 percent used Twitter®. Once again there’s room for improvement, especially considering the fact that social media directly connects a company to its consumers.
Steve Brown is the owner of Business Web Design & Marketing (BWDM), a California firm that provides affordable Web design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, online marketing, public relations, and a host of professional copywriting services. “In the pre-Web 2.0 world of information sharing, most businesses developed their websites to be purely informational. Today, many small businesses are simply not aware of modern Web design and online marketing practices. Consequently, their online brand awareness has hit a standstill, the number of new prospects has dissipated, and profit margins have shrunk,” Brown said.
Many small business owners are offered quotes of $3,000 and upward for a new website. Take into account a minimal marketing budget and it’s not surprising that only about half of American small businesses have websites. It’s also not surprising that a large percentage of these websites are poorly designed, considering the speed at which technology is accelerating. Small businesses simply don’t have the upfront capital to keep up.
But is $3,000 truly an accurate quote? Not necessarily. BWDM’s packages start at only $499 and the full-service firm even provides revenue-sharing options for certain companies that qualify. When choosing a firm for your website, certainly be conscious of a firm’s ability to write effective direct-response copy to generate leads, something BWDM prides itself on.
While the fate of the economy in 2011 and beyond is unknown, convincing data reveals there is still great opportunity for growth among small businesses. Through smart, cutting-edge Web design and marketing installments, businesses can not only survive, but even thrive with much less up-front capital than years past.
Business Web Design & Marketing (businesswebdesignandmarketing.com) is a full-service Web design and marketing firm specializing in revitalizing small businesses, especially during times of recession. Through creative copywriting and effective marketing plan development, BWDM gives websites the boost they need to thrive in today's economy.