Does a business need a website?

What do businesses use their website for?
What do businesses use their website for?

Our Business Healthcheck questionnaire has been running for nearly a month now. It has two aims:

  1. To make people think about how they run their business and whether there were any inherent risks or inefficiencies in the way they operate.
  2. To look at how businesses in general operate in various key “backroom” areas.

The survey side of the aims has produced some interesting statistics which we intend to publish as a series of blogs to stimulate further thought and discussion. This first blog looks at the results from the questions on websites and internet marketing.

The aim of these questions was to find out what people were using their websites for and how important they are for the business. It also covered how people use social media for marketing.

Answering the use of websites is easy; the overwhelming majority use theirs simply as a marketing tool of one sort or another and very few sell directly online. In this vein, there was a marked split between respondents getting most of their contacts via the internet and those getting very few indeed. There were very few in the middle.

Pie chart showing how often does a business change its website?
How often does a business change its website?

Perhaps the most unexpected result came from the very first question. This looked at how often businesses changed the content of their website. Whilst more than 40% changed content at least once a month and obviously viewed their websites as an important part of their marketing strategy, 24% stated that they did not need a website at all. This seems a very high figure.

So, the puzzle is why do nearly one quarter of businesses completing the survey think that they do not need a website? It could be that these are the one-man businesses, several of whom completed the survey, and they are gaining business purely by personal recommendation. If they are larger, then again, are they simply using the same method or are they using “real” sales people?  We didn’t ask that question!

Graph showing which social media businesses use
Which social media do businesses use?

The answers to the social media questions are equally interesting.  The most popular social media tool for business is LinkedIn with about 75% of businesses saying that they use this tool. This is not surprising given that most businesses taking part are selling to business rather than the public and therefore Facebook is less relevant. However, less than half have their businesses registered on it. We have to assume that they are using it purely as a way of striking up conversations and interacting with other business people rather than explicitly marketing their company.  In a way it is intriguing that the LinkedIn figure isn’t nearer 100% as the way the questionnaire was advertised initially was only via our website and LinkedIn. How did they find the Healthcheck?

So, do you need a website? When we started Nepeta Consulting, one of the pieces of advice we were often given was that every company should have a website. There were several reasons stated for this:

  1. It shows you are reasonably up to date with technology!
  2. It is a cheap and easily updateable form of marketing brochure.  You don’t have to get lots of copies printed and then realise you haven’t got it quite right and start again.
  3. It gives you a certain gravitas – people can go and read more about you, if nothing else. If you have gone to the effort of producing a site then you must be serious about your business.

So, let us know if you think businesses without websites are missing a trick. Are they not serious about business, do they not need more business or is it simply they operate in an internet-free world?