SUFFOLK TOURIST GUIDE

Get Online Or Risk Missing Out

June 2010
New research shows a lack of trust in businesses without a web presence.
A poll by web hosting firm 1&1 Internet reveals nearly 50% of consumers have 'concerns' if a firm has no website.
The survey showed how half of consumers now regularly buy from online-only businesses.
According to the poll:
• 41% of retailers believe the internet has led to an improvement in work/life balance.
• 54% said they had made adjustments to their business plan as a result.
83% of those polled said the internet had made it easier for people to succeed in business while a third believe it has been a significant motivator for people from less privileged backgrounds to start up a venture.

Get Online Or Risk Missing Out Fresh Business Thinking 18/02/10

By Patrick Elliott, chief executive, Business Link in London

A recent survey of how London's small and medium sized businesses use the internet has revealed some surprising findings. Just over 62% of businesses polled said they did not need a website, while 40% admit they do not currently have one.

With consumers relying so heavily on the internet, small businesses need to establish an presence if they are to be successful in the market. Developing an online company identity does not have to be expensive or time consuming. Websites can be quick to set up and inexpensive to maintain.

Nonetheless, they are incredibly important. The internet has, in many cases, replaced the Yellow Pages and local business directories. Rather than looking up a company, consumers and other businesses will simply search online to find the service they need.

If you don't have a website, many people will not be aware of your company and you run the risk of losing out on potential customers, simply because you're ignoring the internet.

In this way, a website can be invaluable in helping your business connect with potential customers and maintain existing relationships.

Having a strong online presence can also open up your business to an entirely new customer base. Research from Google shows that online sales account for 17p of every pound spent in the UK. Offering products and services online can provide a valuable source of additional revenue for many small businesses.

In this sense, the internet is very much an opportunity and a threat. While small businesses that are savvy about the potential of the internet will benefit from expansion into new markets, those that are slower to adapt may find they are losing businesses to online competitors.

In a recent poll, 54% of London's small businesses stated they planned to increase marketing while 50% planned to enter new markets. Building your business' presence online can facilitate both these goals.

But what does this mean in practice?

Websites should not be a victory of style over substance.

It is important to be clear about the services and products your business offers and be mindful of what information your customers will need to know. Tailor your website to meet the needs of your customers. Listing your business' contact details and enabling your customers to communicate with you easily is also vital for every website.

Developing a presence online is not necessarily the right thing for every business, but many businesses that would benefit from engaging in the online world are clearly failing to do so. If you believe your business should have a presence on the internet, think carefully about the sort of information you will need to include on your website and what you are trying to achieve. Build your website around these details.

Of course, many business owners will find it difficult to crack the online world alone. Go out and get advice from organisations like Business Link, whether you're starting from scratch or you're looking to make your current online presence more effective.'

Note from Suffolk Guides - by advertising on the Suffolk Guides your business can have an immediate, cheap and easy to maintain presence online, and consumers will be able to find you when they search the internet even if you don't have a website. So this is a cheap way to test the waters before you dive in to the web!
Register Now or email info@suffolktouristguide.com if you have any questions about the Suffolk Guides

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