1&1 Internet Inc. recently released the results of its 2011 Virtual Main Street Audit — their survey on the relationship between consumer satisfaction and small business websites. Small business owners should take note of its key findings.
This study of more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that 35 percent of U.S. consumers have totally disengaged from any purchases with a small business after discovering they have a poor quality website. An additional 7 percent have opted to spend less with them as a direct result.
Although 1&1 reports that the majority of businesses in the U.S have taken steps to launch a website, 45 percent of consumers have the opinion that a bad website makes a worse impact than a business having no website at all. The Virtual Main Street Audit finds low levels of consumer satisfaction with the small business websites available to them, revealing that consumers believe many small business websites have not evolved to keep pace with advancing technology.
Survey respondents also cite their dissatisfaction with unattractive websites and many that also contain errors. Other specific turn-offs of inferior small business websites reported include:
- 30% of consumers surveyed believe small business websites most often lack essential features
- 28% found that the small business websites they use are “unimpressive”
- 29% report frequently finding errors such as typos or broken URLs
Many American consumers are willing to help business owners create a more satisfying online experience. The report showed if given the opportunity to provide feedback, 35% of shoppers would offer a review or provide a recommendation for improving a small business website.
Data from the survey suggests that keeping an unattractive or badly functioning website online can comprise a risk to sales revenue. Research shows that organizations should address their website’s weaknesses in order to improve the customer’s overall shopping experience to retain the customers they have and gain consumer loyalty. If they don’t —small businesses may face lost revenue do to consumers spending less or not spending at all, and never returning to the website.
It may be time to take a closer look at your small business website and make any necessary changes in order to take advantage of planned online consumer spending. Regardless of the findings of the 2011 Virtual Main Street Audit, the outlook for online spending remains strong:
- Nearly two-thirds of consumers plan to maintain their level of online spending from 2010
- 23% actually expect in the number of purchases they will make online to increase
All business owners can begin by inviting customer feedback and responding in positive ways. If something is working for the site—keep it! If it’s not working—fix it. If it is unattractive, enhance it. Improving a small business website’s look and feel, its navigation for easy customer use, decreasing loading times, proofreading for grammatical or spelling errors, and creating a simple checkout process for e-commerce sites can be a hugely effective. Keep these things in mind if you want to get the optimal performance from your online representation of your company and in the long run, to get your best return on investment.
About the Author
This post was submitted by Sarah Levy of Merchant Express. Learn more about Merchant Express at www.MerchantExpress.com and follow Sarah on twitter @sarah_levy81.
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