Not all businesses are jumping on the website bandwagon in today’s digital world, and who they are varies across revenue, geographic location, and industry.
The process of building a website—let alone a quality one—from scratch can be complex, time-consuming, and overwhelming. For some small businesses owners, that feat alone is reason enough to question if developing and maintaining a website is even worth the hassle.
Our team at UpCity surveyed 600 respondents from small businesses across the United States and Canada to gather insight about their websites and related processes and found that 40% of businesses don’t even have a website.
As more experts tout the importance of investing in a modern website and establishing an online presence for businesses, we’ll take a look at why these businesses continue to forgo them and how they maintain their business without one.
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Who Are the Business Owners Opting Out of Websites?
The reasons for not having a website in today’s digital world depend on revenue, geographic location, and industry, as well as simply having the bandwidth. While businesses in the marketing, technology, and real estate sectors are more likely to need a website to convert customers, 72% of survey respondents lacking a website are in unspecified industries, such as construction, churches, or medical businesses.
Of this 72%, they stated the following as reasons for not utilizing a website:
- 40% don’t think a website is relevant to their business/industry
- 21% use social media in place of a website
- 21% don’t have the necessary technical expertise
- 18% lack the financial ability or necessary human resources
A striking fact, in particular, is that 68% of businesses without websites earn annual revenue of less than $500,000. Not to mention, 59% of businesses without a website have one to five employees. With fewer financial and human resources, these businesses can’t afford to make website development or design a priority.
In looking at survey respondents from across the United States, we found a sizable difference in the small businesses that have websites versus the ones that don’t based on the region they’re in. Of the small businesses that don’t have websites, the largest portion of them are in the southern U.S. The full breakdown is as follows:
- 42% South
- 32% Midwest
- 22% Northeast
- 22% West
Interestingly enough, if you were to look at that map on our survey and compare it to Census Bureau data on broadband internet access, you’ll find a correlation between regions that are less likely to have a website with less broadband access–and vice versa.
In the linked data, the Census Bureau reveals that mapping broadband internet subscription patterns shows that counties with higher subscription rates tend to be in or around urban areas, especially those along both coasts.
With densely populated New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. dominating the Northeast region of the U.S. and Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland hailing in the west coast, it’s no wonder small businesses in these areas are relying more on websites than rural communities in the Midwest and South.
This pattern was also consistent with our Canadian survey respondents. According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, “residents of rural areas must cope with starkly inferior [internet] access compared to cities.” The largest Canadian cities–Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City–are all located in Central Canada, which is the largest region to claim having a website in our survey. The full breakdown is as follows:
- 33% Prairie Provinces
- 40% Northern Territories
- 44% Atlantic Provinces
- 71% Central Canada
- 50% West Coast
So How Do These Businesses Maintain a Presence?
How are companies lacking websites still getting an audience? For many of them: social media. In fact, the survey reveals that 46% of businesses that use social media in place of a website leverage Facebook most heavily, along with Instagram and TikTok as runner-ups.
With popular social media platforms, maintaining the actual website is up to the social media company, and not the business with a profile itself. That saves a significant amount of savings, time, and effort for short-staffed businesses.
If you’re using social media in place of a website, however, we recommend checking it and responding to messages daily. Because that’s the only face of your brand online, it’s still important to keep it up to date, just as you would with a website. The same best practices we preach for UpCity profiles apply to social media profiles as well.
Respond to comments, messages, and reviews in a timely manner so others can see the dynamic you have with customers. And don’t forget to post regularly, with company updates, project examples or case studies, and fun tidbits of staff having fun on the job.
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Word of Mouth Still Holds Value
Of our survey respondents that don’t intend to create a website anytime soon, a whopping 69% simply don’t feel that having a website is necessary for their business to succeed. It isn’t about them feeling that social media is a good substitute for a website. It’s because they haven’t lost faith in referrals or word of mouth.
Which makes sense for our survey respondents in rural areas. When you’re in a small town, “everyone knows everyone.” It’s easier to get the word out to a community you’re familiar with, which is especially useful when not all of your customers may have access to the internet.
Businesses located in largely populated areas, however, don’t necessarily have that small-town camaraderie–or they just may rely on digital outreach as they have the access and resources for it.