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Out-of-date websites are losing money for small firms

20 July 2021

A new study has found that shoppers spend 54% less with small businesses that have not updated their websites compared to those that have.

The research, conducted by Censuswide for Yell, polled business owners and consumers for their views on the importance of websites. In addition, Yell analysed more than one million SME websites. The results show that many businesses are neglecting to update their websites, with the average site last updated 15 months ago.

The data suggests that this could have a direct impact on revenue from online sales, with the study finding that consumers spend 54% less per month on average on websites that have not been updated regularly versus those that have. When asked what element of a business's website would most likely increase their chances of making a purchase, 42% of shoppers polled cited up-to-date information.

The findings come at a time when online shopping has risen significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, 69% of consumers are either likely or very likely to seek out a business online before making a purchase or booking a service. This trend looks set to continue beyond the pandemic, with 36% of respondents saying they plan to make most of their purchases online following the lifting of restrictions.

Small business owners themselves agree that having an effective online presence is a key driver for sales and enquiries - 80% of those polled said that their website and social media presence were the most important tools for generating leads and sales, followed by digital marketing and branding (both 79%). One-third (34%) of small firms said they thought their website was unimportant before the pandemic, but now think that it is important and 35% said that their business would not survive without a website.

However, the report finds that businesses face barriers when it comes to keeping their websites up-to-date. The findings show that:

  • 34% of SMEs say they don't update their website because of a lack of expertise;
  • 31% of SMEs blame lack of time;
  • 30% are afraid something will go wrong that could break their current site;
  • 26% say they don't have the money to make changes to their website.

According to SMEs, design is the most important part of their website; consumers agree, with half of those polled saying they would be less likely to give a website their business if it was badly designed and 41% said they would not use that business again.

Even so, the study found that 13% of websites featured text that was too small to be read on a mobile device and 19% were not optimised for mobile at all. Another key factor is speed, with 36% of consumers saying that they would be less likely to give a company their business if their website was slow to use.

Claire Miles, Yell ceo, said: "It's been an incredibly tough time for businesses across the country. The pandemic has forced them to adapt quickly and has led to a widespread adoption of digital services at speed. Whilst these digital services have been crucial for businesses to survive the past 16 months, our insights show that this trend towards digital is set to continue long past the pandemic. Therefore, it is crucial for SMEs to be getting their digital strategy right and an effective website will always be at the heart of that."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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