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Research reveals importance of websites for SMEs

Posted on July 21, 2021

 

New research released by Yell shows the importance of having an online presence, along with the value of having a website that’s up to date, fast and designed well.

The importance of a website

Yell spoke to small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and customers based in the UK, and it identified that having an online presence is a key component in driving both enquiries and sales for this market. Of the businesses surveyed, a total of 80% said that their social media channels and website were the two most important factors in the generation of both leads and sales, which was followed closely by branding and digital marketing, which 79% of businesses said were important components.

In addition to this, 34% of the SMEs surveyed revealed that before the COVID-19 pandemic, they had considered their website to be unimportant, but that they now consider it to be of high importance. Over a third (35%) of SMEs also believe that they couldn’t survive without their website.

SME websites aren’t just important to the businesses themselves, either – the research also revealed that an average of 69% of customers said they were likely or extremely likely to look up a business on the internet before committing to a purchase or a booking. This isn’t just limited to the time of the pandemic either, as 36% of those surveyed revealed they plan to make the majority of purchases via the web once all COVID restrictions are lifted.

Up-to-date content

Yell analysed one million websites for its research, and found that SMEs fail to regularly update their sites, with websites on average having been last updated around 15 months ago. Transport and trades SMEs were identified to be particularly neglectful, with those sites last being updated around 20 months ago.

The research reveals that not keeping websites up-to-date can have a direct effect on sales, with customers spending an average of 54% less each month on websites that aren’t regularly updated compared to those sites that do receive regular updates. Further to this, 42% of customers identified that a website having up-to-date information would increase the likelihood of them either purchasing or using a service from that business.

Design

In addition to content being up to date, the research also revealed the design of a website is of importance to both SMEs and customers. Regarding SMEs, 48% said the design of their site was its most important aspect. When it comes to customers, 50% said they would be less likely to do business with a website if its website wasn’t designed well, and a total of 41% revealed that they wouldn’t use a business again if it had a poorly designed website.

While the design of a website was highlighted to be of high importance, Yell’s analysis revealed that 34% of the websites analysed had horizontal scrolling when viewed on a mobile device, a common complaint among mobile users. Additionally, 13% had text that couldn’t be read on a mobile as it was too small, and 19% weren’t even mobile optimised.

Speed

The speed of websites was also identified to be a key factor. Just over a third of customers (36%) said that a slow website would make them less likely to give a company custom, and 9% of customers revealed they would go as far as posting on social media about their bad experience.

Again, while speed is an important factor, SMEs fell short on this too – Yell found that websites took an average of 6.7 seconds to fully load. The family entertainment, travel, and leisure and sports industries were identified to have the slowest-loading websites, at 7.7, 7.7 and 7.5 seconds respectively. In contrast, pet-related companies, businesses concerning waste and workshop trades were found to have the swiftest loading sites, at 5.8, 6 and 6.1 seconds.

Yell’s research highlights that for SMEs, having a website is extremely important, and that ensuring that site is regularly updated, has an attractive mobile-friendly design and is quick to load is just as important. Here at Engage Web, we can provide your business with a fast, fully optimised website designed with both your business and customers in mind. If you opt for our Fresh Start website leasing package, we can even update it for you at no extra cost. To learn more, contact our team today.

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