SMBs Neglect Mobile Customers, Risk Revenue Loss

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted February 19, 2014

Only nine percent of small and midsized businesses (SMBs) in the U.S. have mobile-optimized websites, according to a report from Impact Research conducted on behalf of Hibu, a provider of website building services. In essence, 91 percent of American SMBs are passing up a huge opportunity to grow their businesses.

Small business owners are missing out on an estimated of $1 trillion in potential revenues—equivalent to the GDP of New York State—by ignoring the fact that people search and shop online with smartphones and tablets. The reason is simple: mobile is becoming the new normal. Matt Anderson, Hibu's chief digital officer, told Small Business Computing, "This year, more than half of searches will be made on a mobile phone."

"If you don't have mobile website, it's like you turned off half of the Internet," added Anderson.

Mobile-friendly Websites By the Numbers

According to the report, SMBs without mobile websites said that building one would grow their businesses by 4 percent, on average. On average, respondents said that they generate $1.1 million in annual revenues.

"Effectively, SMBs are losing out on $1 trillion in revenue per year," reiterated Anderson. If the 24 million small businesses in the U.S. that don't currently have mobile-optimized websites were to target mobile devices, it would "singlehandedly change the trajectory of the GDP of the U.S.," he said.

Smartphone and tablet users are also growing more comfortable with shopping on their mobile devices. Mobile online transactions are expected to skyrocket to $90 billion in 2014, a six-fold increase over last year, according to the report.

Anderson believes that for small businesses, the math adds up and the message is clear. "Go with the mobile-first approach, supplement desktop on top of that," he advised. "Your cheapest and most effective marketing is on the [mobile] phone."

Of course, building a mobile-friendly website is usually low on a small business owner's to-do list, or budget for that matter. Fortunately, a new breed of DIY (do-it-yourself) tools and services, such as DudaMobile, can help even novice users cook up professional-looking, search engine optimized (SEO) mobile websites.

Not surprisingly, Anderson's company, Hibu, offers website-building services that range from drag-and-drop templates to fully-managed websites, and mobile comes standard. "Our website offering automatically builds mobile and tablet-optimized [sites]," he said..

Hibu offers hundreds of templates, and it specializes in building websites that render on variety of devices and allow for customization—including ecommerce capability.

On the SEO and social fronts, the company's Wave services establishes business pages on social media, including social network, including Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, and claims an SMB's listing on all major online directories. When a change is made to the site, it "ripples" out to those online resources automatically.

Hibu's DIY sites are free. The company's "build-it-for-me" offering carries a one-time cost of $799. Monthly plans range from $9.99 to $29.99.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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