Online Marketing: Are Small Business Owners Crushing It or Getting Crushed? | Small Biz Marketing Specialist
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Online Marketing: Are Small Business Owners Crushing It or Getting Crushed?

When it comes to your online marketing, are you crushing it or are you getting crushed?

That’s what GoDaddy and Alignable asked more than 100,000 small business owners. The answers are below. See how you compare and share your comments at the end.

This quote summarizes what the survey found:

“Only a fraction of small business owners are truly satisfied with their current website and mobile experience. The need for trusted advice and support that’s concise and actionable for business owners is surging.” ~ Alignable CEO Eric Groves

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I don’t know how to start building a website.

Should I make my own website with a templated website builder such as Wix or GoDaddy Website Builder or a content management system like WordPress? Should I hire a professional web designer? What are my options, and how much is it going to cost? Survey respondents were split almost 50-50 between DIY (do it yourself) and DIFM (do it for me) website building solutions. Twenty-six percent used a template-based site builder, and 23 percent turned to a CMS like WordPress to build their own websites. Fifty-one percent of small business owners chose to hire a professional web designer. Overwhelmingly, SMBs found 45 percent of these web professionals through a word-of mouth referral.

small business online marketing

Only 9 percent of survey respondents are completely satisfied with their website. Honesty, I’m not surprised. I get calls all of the time asking for help with local marketing. Small business owners know they NEED to have an online presence . . . they just don’t know how to do it.

small business online marketing

Why are so many small business owners unhappy with their online presence? Many small business owners don’t have the time to properly maintain a website and lack the knowledge and resources to create the most optimal website for their particular business. That’s why more than half of SMBs turn to professional designers to do the heavy lifting.

Moreover, many times, what I find is that small business owners have unrealistic expectations about how much traffic their website can generate without an investment of time and, in many cases, money.


Take a strategic approach to choosing the right website designer for your business. Consider these five main factors when deciding whether or not to build your own website or to hire a professional:

1. Cost: It will cost in the ballpark of $50 to $100 per year to build your site using a templated site builder or hosted WordPress product. You’re looking at an initial design fee of between $500 and $3,000 for a professionally designed website.

2. Customization: Do you want a completely unique web design or need advanced features that require add-ons like databases? Outsourcing to a professional might be the way to go.

3. Time: How much time do you have to devote to building and maintaining your website? You can build an effective site using a templated site builder in less than a day and a slightly more customized WordPress site in a few days — if you’re motivated. Then you’ll want to commit a few hours per week to maintain and improve it. If you can’t commit the time, hire a pro.

4. Difficulty: Templated site builders are ideal for beginners; WordPress sites are suitable for intermediate users; and more customized sites require greater skill. Be honest about your ability level when you’re deciding who should build the kind of site you need.

5. Customer service: If you think you might need help or have questions (and if you’re not a web pro, you probably will), choose a website building solution that offers quality customer service.

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I’m overwhelmed by what it takes to make a website successful.

Small business owners need to keep their ear to the ground for many things when it comes it to their website. Is it fast? Is it mobile-friendly? Does it have a contact form? Is the content updated frequently enough? Is it optimized for search engines? The list of must-haves and to dos can seem overwhelming.

“A website is no longer an investment that needs to be made every 3 to 5 years. It is a marketing tool that constantly needs to be refreshed, upgraded, and renewed. Even for small businesses, if you don’t have a mobile friendly website that you yourself can update, then you need to think about upgrading.” ~ Alignable member Aaron Giagnocavo

According to the survey results, 47 percent of small business owners’ biggest complaint about their website is that it doesn’t show up in search engines. That’s likely because the vast majority of entrepreneurs seem to take a “build it and forget it” approach to websites. Seventy-four percent of the small business owners surveyed update the content on their website or blog two times or less per month.

small business online marketing


Prioritize three factors that will drive more traffic to your website: search engine optimization (SEO), valuable content creation, and a design that is optimized for mobile visitors. Take the time to understand SEO then schedule about three to five hours to start optimizing your website (with an ongoing commitment to review it monthly). To start:

1. Optimize each web page with relevant keywords.

2. Add internal links.

3. Add meta tags.

4. Add/update online business listings.

5. Add/update online maps.

If you can’t commit to doing your own SEO, turn to a reputable provider. Providing website content that’s valuable to visitors will also attract search engines. In fact, relevant content is the cornerstone of SEO strategy. Figure out what matters to your target customers and how your product or service meets their needs. Then create related, search optimized website copy, images, video and other content. It’s also important to make sure your website is optimized for mobile users — especially since Google has started ranking mobile-friendly sites higher in search results. Take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your site makes the grade.


I haven’t yet invested in business-class email.

Nearly 70 percent of all U.S. internet users prefer communications with businesses via email, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s “2015 State of Marketing Report.” Yet more than half of the business owners surveyed use a free email account such as Gmail or Yahoo! for business. To many customers, that generic email address translates to “not a serious business.” What’s more, using generic email instead of domain-based email for business means missing a branding opportunity every time you hit send.


“Offering customers special limited-time offers via business-class email campaigns has increased our online sales to more than double in some of our past promotions.” ~ Brad Indoe, founder of Urban Raccoon Snack Bars


Graduate from generic email to show you mean business. For less than $5 a month you can have a professional email address that matches your business’s domain name. Add an email signup form to your website and use that business-class email address to send sales generating email campaigns to subscribers.

About Stacey Riska

Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners #CrushIt by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. Stacey is the founder of Small Biz Marketing Specialist, THE go-to place for marketing tips, techniques and strategies that get results. Stacey is also the creator of the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program, an online video training program that teaches small and local business owners how to use daily deal sites like Groupon to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.


About the Author smallbizmarketing

Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money.

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