How Important is a Responsive Website for Your Small Business?
With advances in e-commerce and the Internet rapidly changing consumer behavior, it has become imperative for small business owners to maintain an active online presence. Small business owners need to maintain viable websites to fully enhance their online marketing efforts. Indeed, a website that boasts useful, targeted content and responsive web design is more likely to drive traffic, convert leads into customers, and boost conversions.
Many Small Businesses Don’t Have Websites
Surprisingly, only slightly more than half of small businesses have websites this year. According to a July 2014 polling by Gallup and Wells Fargo, in Q3 2014, only 59% of American small business owners said their companies had websites. According to data gathered by Statistic Brain, the main reason why small business owners choose not to maintain websites is because they currently do not need one (41%). Other respondents say they don’t own a website because it’s costly (19%), while others say they’re too busy to even consider setting up one (16%).
While it is true that small businesses operate on smaller budgets; occupy smaller, more localized niches; and thrive on word of mouth reviews, building and maintaining an optimized digital presence offers small business owners numerous advantages.
Even without business websites, many small businesses actually have an online presence, found largely on review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google+. Users on these sites leave comments about small businesses, which can be read by netizens (including a small business’s potential customers). Consequentially, for small businesses that fail to maintain websites or optimize their online presence, the information potential customers will find about such businesses will be based entirely on reviews, both good and bad.
These reviews can seriously affect the buying decisions of potential customers. It goes without saying that small businesses that ignore the Internet and e-commerce are not tapping into a valuable source of lead generation, customer acquisition, and overall growth.
Internet Usage on Mobile Has Surpassed Internet Usage on Desktop
When it comes to utilizing the Internet, people’s behaviors have undergone a dramatic transformation. No longer do individuals access the Internet solely on desktop computers, as many individuals are now accessing the Internet via smartphones and tablets as well.
Today, more than ever, people are using their mobile devices to browse the web, find businesses, and purchase products and services. In fact, in early 2014, Internet usage on mobile devices surpassed Internet usage on desktop for the first time. Individuals are increasingly performing Internet-related tasks on mobile that were once largely performed on desktop, such as accessing content and searching for information, checking emails, and making purchases.
According to Google’s study, “Our Mobile Planet: United States of America (Understanding the Mobile Consumer)”, increased smartphone usage has radically changed the way consumers purchase products and services. According to the study, 77% of smartphone users have researched products and services on their devices, and 46% of smartphone users have made a purchase on their device.
Moreover, 94% of smartphone users have used their devices to look for local information, with 84% taking action as a direct result of their search. Of these local searchers, 65% visited the business premises, 24% told others about these businesses, and 38% made purchases.
These and other statistics found in the Google report should serve as a wakeup call for small business owners who don’t employ responsive web design on their websites. Small business owners who have websites that don’t load properly on mobile devices would experience serious losses, as potential customers would have a hard time locating them, and would end up purchasing products and services from businesses that maintain responsive websites.
There are other reasons why going responsive is a good idea for small business owners. Listed below are some of the most important ones:
- Responsive web design provides a great user experience. If your website employs responsive design, multi-screen users can browse through your content with ease. Offering a great user experience is key to converting leads and keeping existing customers.
- Websites load faster when they are responsive. If your site takes too long to load, search engines will perceive it as being low-quality, and may assign it lower rankings on their search engine results pages. Responsive websites usually load faster, provide great user experience, and are more likely to attain prominent rankings on the results pages of Google and Bing.
- Google prefers responsive websites. Going responsive means having a single URL, making it easier for search engines, particularly Google, to crawl through and evaluate your site.
- The majority of social media referrals come from mobile. Users regularly share social media and blog content via their smartphones. When they see that your content adjusts properly on their smartphones, chances are, they’ll keep coming back without hesitation.
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