Small-business web sites boost customer engagement, and a January 2015 study by Thrive Analytics found that US small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) were seeing more success with the channel than any other.
When SMBs were asked which marketing methods had been the most effective, company web sites—the No. 1 response in 2014—remained the most popular, at 45%. This was 6 percentage points ahead of social media and 19 points above print yellow pages—and blew all other channels out of the water by 30 points or more.
Nearly half (49%) of SMBs intended to increase their marketing budgets this year, and web sites will reap the benefits of that spending. Fully 36% planned to up expenditure on company web sites—the highest percentage out of all channels studied. Social media, mobile advertising, online display ads and paid search all followed closely behind, each cited by around one-third.
January 2015 research by HubShout also found strong interest in web sites among SMBs. When asked which services would be most in demand for 2015, 64% of SMB marketing professionals worldwide cited web development—trailing only search engine optimization (67%) and ahead of every other option, such as social media (38%) and content marketing (37%), by at least 26 percentage points.
The problem, though, is that small businesses are strapped for time, meaning they don’t necessarily have the hours to keep their web sites up to date. According to Thrive Analytics, SMBs were most likely to update their web sites quarterly (31%). Fewer than one-quarter made changes on a monthly basis, and just 16% did so daily. Promisingly, just under three in 10 (29%) updated their sites weekly.
SMBs should put some of their extra web site dollars toward more frequent updates. If they don’t, they risk having customers access out-of-date content on what is currently their most effective marketing tool.