A total of 46 per cent of British consumers have cancelled plans to spend with a small business after finding a poor quality website, according to research released today by 1&1 Internet Ltd, www.1and1.co.uk, a global leader amongst web hosts. From a study of more than 1800 UK adults, 37 per cent have walked away completely whilst a further 9 per cent have opted to spend less as a direct result. Many consumers feel that small business websites today are mostly unattractive and often contain errors. Whilst 1 in 3 consumers are willing to provide valuable feedback to business owners, a further study of small firms finds that half have never asked clients about their experiences of using their website.
The majority of UK businesses have now taken steps to launch a website and battle for valuable online visibility. However, 1&1’s ‘2011 Digital High Street Audit'(1) finds worryingly low levels of consumer satisfaction with the small business websites available to them. The risk to firms from providing a bad online experience is clear – 49 per cent of consumers believe that a bad website makes a worse impact than a business having no website at all. This conclusion has led 37 per cent to walk-away from companies completely, in favour of using a competitor. An additional 9 per cent of Britons have found themselves reducing their spend with small companies as a direct result of being deterred by a poor company website.
Oliver Mauss, CEO 1&1 Internet Ltd. said, “Research shows that keeping an ugly or badly functioning website online can comprise a risk to sales revenue. Consumers have ever higher expectations, and it is essential that every company website inspires confidence. Businesses that invest carefully in their web experience will see higher levels of customer spend, retention and referral”.
Many business websites have not evolved as they should have in recent years. One third of consumers surveyed (34 per cent) believe that in general, the small business websites they use are “tired” and “unimpressive”, and 41 per cent frequently find errors such as typos or broken URLs. It is thus unsurprising that a further study of 480 UK firms(2) finds that 50 per cent have never asked their customers for feedback about their website. However, many owners are aware that they have website problems. 66 per cent of companies surveyed admit that they struggle to maintain an attractive website, with the most common pain-point being the sourcing of fresh content (38 per cent). 30 per cent have been ‘reluctant’ or ‘embarrassed’ to recommend their website to their customers, at least once, because they knew of faults.
Significantly, many British consumers are keen to help business owners create a more satisfying online experience. Given the facility for providing feedback, 33 per cent of shoppers would provide a review or recommendation for improving a small business website. Hence, companies should add a feedback form to their website, or set up an email address for collecting valuable user-comments.
The data suggests the outlook for online spending remains strong. Two thirds of consumers plan to maintain their level of online spending from 2010, and 22 per cent foresee an increase in the number of purchases they will make online. Thus, UK businesses can be reassured that investments made to improve their websites can positively impact their bottom line.
Mauss added, “Firms must not shy-away from addressing their website’s weaknesses. For all business owners, customer feedback can be a hugely effective weapon for ensuring that the web is performing for them”.
Nowadays, there are website packages that ensure that small business websites feature all the essential functions consumers now expect. Aimed specifically at helping small businesses launch a compelling and effective website in minutes, 1&1 offers its MyBusiness Site range of packages. From only £9.99/month+VAT, all three 1&1 MyBusiness Site packages include a choice of 125 industry-specific templates with related pre-filled texts for sectors ranging from accountant to wine merchant. From this month, brand new features have been integrated and include a Visitor Counter and Guestbook. Within the range, advanced tools include feedback forms, Industry specific Image Library and RSS Feeds on news and weather, as well as catalogue and product search and shop functionality.
1&1 Internet Ltd is well placed to deliver a high-quality service to businesses, with a wide range of web-based solutions to maximise their IT resources. 1&1 serves 9.5 million customers worldwide and manages over 11 million domain names. 1&1’s products include domain names, web building tools, shared web hosting, dedicated and virtual servers, Software-as-a-Service, business class e-mail, eCommerce solutions, and cloud server solutions.
Find more information at www.1and1.co.uk
(1) 1887 UK adults surveyed by OpinionMatters via electronic feedback form
(2) 483 UK firms with a website surveyed via electronic feedback form