Posts Tagged 'e-commerce'

Research makes compelling argument for the importance of educating small business owners about the online channel

Small Business Not Keeping Up With Online Presence

Research from Research Brief column on MediaPost

According to research from Webvisible and Nielsen, reported by Marketing Charts, though 63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend
less than 10% of their marketing budget online.

My comment: This is not a sustainable business model in today’s digital economy.

The research finds an accelerating trend toward online media for local search. However, the report says the study uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online.
The survey found that search engines are the most popular source for finding local information:• 82% use search engines

57% use Yellow Pages directories.
53% use local newspapers
49% use Internet Yellow Pages
49% use TV
38% use direct mail
32% White Pages directories

Of those surveyed, 50% said search engines were the first place they looked when seeking a local business, while 24% chose the Yellow Pages directories.

92% of searchers say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines, though 39% report frequently not being able to locate a particular known business. This means, says the report, searchers don’t may choose to contact a similar business with a stronger online presence.

Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services. Compared with two years ago, respondents report they use search engines and email newsletters more, while they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less.

Despite the growing use of online media for local searches, only 41% of small businesses report turning to online search engines first, and 31% turn to Yellow pages directories first. In addition, only 44% of small businesses have a website.

When using a search engine to find a business they know exists, only 19% of survey respondents report never or rarely encountering trouble locating that business online and 39% say they routinely have difficulty.

Though less than half of small businesses do have a website, the ones that do are not happy overall with their online marketing.  Among those small businesses that have a website:
• 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new customers is only “fair” or
“poor”
• 30% of business owners feel that they typically do a better job of marketing than a close
competitor
• 78% believe they advertise in the same places as their competitors
• Only 7% of small business owners say their primary marketing goal is to get more visitors to
their website
• 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing their website
• 99% of small business owners are directly involved in the marketing
• 65% believe it is very important to know where their customers come from
• Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts
• 78% of small business owners dedicate 10% or less of their budget to marketing Of those,
30% do no Internet advertising

My Comment: eBizITPA Education and the eMarketing Learning Center are performing research to learn more about small businesses knowledge and interest in eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing  strategies Training.  Click to learn more about survey results.  Click to download a copy of the eBusiness, eCommerce and eMarketing eBook

Over the past two years, 43% of small businesses say they have increased use of search engines in their marketing efforts. In contrast, use of traditional small business advertising mediums is on the decline:
• 23% say they use the Yellow pages less
• 42% say they use the local newspaper less

For the purpose of this survey, the term “local business” refers to any retail business in a respondent’s local area, including restaurants, entertainment venues, places of recreation, etc. and services such as plumbers or accountants. The term “Internet Yellow Pages” refers to online Yellow Pages websites such as yellowpages.com, judysbook.com, superpages.com, etc.

Center for Media Research, February 13, 2009
MediaPost Communications, 1140 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001

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An E-Commerce Event Provides Useful Tools…

Recently, I represented eBizITPA at the E-Commerce Summit at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford.  At the summit, there were case studies and tools provided that gave insight into how some small businesses are utilizing the Internet to grow their business.  As most of you know, case studies are a helpful way for businesses to learn from others what may or may not work.     

Darron Schott of Blair Corporation, explained the importance of shopping cart navigation, especially when 60% or more of a site’s top audience includes senior citizens.  Though more and more elderly are beginning to surf the Web, many have difficulty finding their way around.  Therefore, navigation has to be quick, simple and in no way confusing, or the company risks losing customers.  Darron explained the process they went through to test which features should be provided and in what way for their target audience.  They completed a workshop with several elderly women where they were able to purchase a product online and as they were going through the check out process, they were videotaped so Blair Corp. could see exactly what areas gave them difficulties.  They then could fix those problems in order to create a better shopping experience for their customers. 

Another speaker, Sarah Caniglia of LaserMonks.com, explained how one small Benedictine Abbey in rural Wisconsin had an idea that could help raise money for his monastery.  But as with many other monks, the Father leading this novel business idea, had little business practice.  They wanted to sell ink cartridges on the Internet.  Sarah and a colleague of hers volunteered to assist the abbey by creating a business plan utilizing Internet marketing.  The company, which focuses highly on supporting their communities by donating to charities are not only able to support their abbey, they are also able to donate any leftover profits to other good causes.    

In addition to case studies, a list of Internet tools was provided to help business owners with Web site analytics.  Carolyn Newhouse of SuperUser Technologies  introduced a tool to assist with researching good keywords.  As many of you know, the key words or phrases you choose to use in the content within your site can help your ranking in popular search engines such as Google or Yahoo!.   With this tool by SEO Company, you can type in keywords or phrases that you use, or are thinking of using, within the titles or pages of your site.  It will provide you with the number of search results that particular word or phrase will receive in Google or Yahoo!.  For instance, say I plan to have a Web site selling glass vases.  I would type in ‘glass vases’ and see how many results that exact phrase will conjure up in Google today.  If the results display 175,000, then there are 175,000 other sites that use that keyword within their site.   

This tool also allows you to not only see how much certain words or phrases are being used but also enables you to go directly to the results within Google or Yahoo!.  Doing that will allow you to research who you’re direct competitors may be. 

Do you want your site to get lost in a pool as large as 175,000?  Of course not!  If you have a niche product or service, you should consider using words or phrases that don’t have as many search results in order to allow users to hone in on your site, and of course your product or service.  This will ensure that you’re site isn’t getting lost in the search results among the other thousands of sites that happen to sell a product similar to yours.   

So, what’s different about your product or site and what are the best key words that describe it?  This tool is really helpful for those of us that can think of keywords but have no idea if they’re the best words to use in terms of search engine rankings.  Have you used this tool before?  Tell us what you think! If you haven’t used it yet, check it out at SEO Company and give us your thoughts! 

http://www.seocompany.ca/tool/keyword-search/

For other keyword tools, visit the following:

http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html 

http://www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com

http://www.keyworddensity.com/


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