It should come as no great surprise that small and medium-sized businesses view the Internet and e-commerce as important business elements.
But a new study from the ISP Interland is providing a measure of how e-commerce affects SMBs.
According to the Interland Spring 2005 Business Barometer, e-mail is critical to 70 percent of SMB’s, 94 percent of which have Internet access (64 percent broadband and 30 percent dial-up).
Two-thirds of the 1,032 SMB business leaders surveyed by Interland noted that their Web sites influenced online and offline sales.
The degree to which their Web sites are contributing to their bottom lines is not insignificant. Forty-four percent of respondents with sites indicated they anywhere from 1 to 25 percent of their total 2004 revenues were driven by their sites (either directly through e-commerce or by influencing offline purchases).
Twenty-four percent of respondents reported that 26 to 100 percent of their 2004 revenues were the direct or indirect result of activity generated via their Web sites.
Of the SMBs surveyed that are actively using e-commerce services on their sites (24 percent of survey respondents) 42 percent are earning more than a quarter of their total monthly revenue via their website.
SMB’s are utilizing a variety of marketing tactics online to get their messages across and their products sold. E-mail marketing is utilized by 21 percent, search engine keywords by 18 percent and web banner advertising by 5 percent.
As with virtually every online demographic segment, search is a heavily utilized Internet component for SMBs, with only 2 percent reporting that they never search online. The majority of SMBs (54 percent) are loyal to whatever search engine they use and usually do use the same one for each search.
Local business search is one of the most popular online SMB searches with 50 percent search for businesses online. That doesn’t preclude SMB from still using other traditional forms of business directories.
The Yellow Pages are used for business searches by 47 percent of respondents; two percent use directory assistance and a scant 1
percent actually just drove to wherever they thought the business they were looking for is located.