Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Websites Drive Sales Online & Offline for Small Businesses

A report from Interland's annual Spring 2005 Business Barometer of Small Business Activities revealed some interesting results from small to medium-sized businesses. The survey was a national study on small and medium-sized businesses.

Some nuggets of information include:

On Websites & E-commerce:
Small and medium-sized businesses are profiting from their website through online sales or online marketing influencing offline sales.
  • 24% of businesses say that 26%-100% of their 2004 revenues were generated by online sales or online-marketing-influenced sales offline.
  • Of those 24%, 42% of them report that at least 26% of monthly sales come from online conversions
On E-mail Marketing:
94% of small and medium-sized businesses report being connected by email. 70% of them believe that email is vital to business operations.
  • 72% use email to communicate with existing customers
  • 53% use email to engage prospective buyers
On Critical Marketing Tactics:
What did small and medium-sized businesses consider to be critical marketing tactics that drives business? It appears to be integrated interactive marketing! A mixture of online and offline marketing, leveraging multiple communication channels, seems to be the most effective marketing strategy in driving business.
  • 55% consider community relations to be critical
  • 47% consider the business website to be critical
  • 31% consider public relations & media coverage to be critical [see my PR post]
  • direct mail came in at 26%
  • Yellow Pages advertising came in at 23%, although not specific if that is strictly offline, strictly online, or listing for both
  • Search engine keywords came in at 18%
This survey shows that websites indeed are useful for all businesses. Websites do not only drive online sales but can influence offline sales.

This survey also shows that email does not have to be spam, but rather serves as a valuable customer retention tool. We can also extrapolate that good customer service can lead to word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing and repeat sales.

What can you come away from this? We've talked about the importance of leveraging your offline marketing and offline image with your online marketing and image. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Search engine optimization is NOT a magic bullet, but at 18%, is still a critical element in a marketing mix.

Utilize all of your communication channels! Maximize your business.


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