Businesses Embrace Online Marketing

If your business has a Web site, chances are good that you are relying on online tools more and more to communicate your company’s message, according to a survey conducted by hosting giant Interland.

In conjunction with National Small Business Week, Web hosting provider Interland announced the results of its Spring 2004 Business Barometer of Online Activities, a nationwide survey of online usage by small businesses with Web sites.

Not suprisingly, online marketing tools are becoming increasing important and in some casee are overtaking traditional marketing methods, according to Interland’s survey. Of course, it should be noted that the survey was conducted among a sample of Interland’s shared hosting customers, so the findings are skewed towards online marketing options. Still, the message is a valuable one: If you have a Web presence, you should leverage it for greater exposure.

When asked to select three marketing tools critical in driving business for their companies, having a Web site topped the list at 69 percent followed by search engine keywords (36 percent) and then community relations (35 percent). E-mail marketing (24 percent) edged direct mail (22 percent).

Surprising, Yellow Pages listings, once a staple of SMB marketing tools, was seen as critical in driving business by only 12 percent of the respondents. At the bottom of the list were newspaper advertising, outdoor advertising and print coupons, which all came in at 5 percent or less.

When asked to rate various online capabilities in terms of importance in the coming year, respondents indicated the following:

  • 67 percent said online interactivity (e.g. Web-based business forms, blogs, interactive maps and e-newsletters) is very or somewhat important.

  • 62 percent rated online promotions (e.g. search engine optimization, keyword advertising and e-mail marketing) as very or somewhat important.

  • 55 percent said conducting online transactions (e.g., e-commerce, online catalogs and coupons, and selling via third-party sites like Amazon or eBay) is either very or somewhat important.

Of those surveyed, 34 percent said they sold products or services online. Among that group, 71 percent sold through both online and off-line methods such as retail stores, catalogs and telephone sales.

“As small business usage of the Internet for finding relevant business information climbs so too does the groups understanding of how the Net can help them grow their business,” said Kim T. Gordon, president of National Marketing Federation Inc., in a statement. “From using complex e-commerce Web sites to ongoing e-mail communications with customers and partners, use of the Internet is vital to small business success.”

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