Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Web? A lot of small businesses, that’s who. For the most part, that fear appears to be grounded in a lack of information about the actual costs and benefits of operating a Web site and engaging in some strategic e-marketing efforts.
Web marketing, in large part, is the province of companies with enough money to plaster their messages, goods and services all over the Internet. Missing from this equation is the traditional engine of American commerce: the small business.
A recent study showed that there is a major disconnect between the way most consumers look for goods and services on the Internet and the way small businesses use the Web to advertise.
The study, which surveyed nearly 4,000 U.S. Internet users on the tools they use to find local businesses, was conducted last November by Nielsen and WebVisible. Participants in the survey included 261 small business owners.
Here’s what Nielsen and WebVisible discovered: Search is the No. 1 choice of consumers and small business owners alike when looking for a local product or service on the Internet. Yet, half of all small businesses spent less than 10 percent of their marketing budgets on Internet ads.
In essence, most small businesses are missing out on a huge segment of the consumer population that turns to Internet search engines.
The biggest problem small businesses face when it comes to Web marketing is an attachment to an old way of doing business. It’s clear in many cases that small businesses simply don’t understand the inherent power of the Internet as a way to reach their customers
In fact, 63 percent of consumers turn to the Internet first when looking for local products and services, according to the Nielsen/WebVisible survey.
At the same time, only 44 percent of small businesses surveyed said they had a Web site.
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