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No Guesswork Here: Web Sites Work For SMBs

Web sites are more than image-builders for small to medium-sized businesses. They're about leads and sales as well.

According to the ISP Interland's Summer 2005 Small and Medium-sized Business Barometer, 76 percent of SMBs said they pluck plenty of leads from their Web sites. Another 57 noted in the survey said they generate leads from their Web sites. Fifty-seven percent said they made money either directly or via offline purchases influenced by their Web sites.

And putting up e-commerce features tends to generate, well e-commerce. Take SMBs that deployed features like online payment forms on their site: a whopping 82 percent of the survey reported that they generate monthly revenue via their Web site.

Among the features that SMB's said they use to help market their Web sites: e-mail marketing topped all at 60 percent. Another 54 percent said they deploy search engine optimization to make sure they're found online, and 27 percent said they use online coupons. But only 20 percent indicated they use pay-per-click as a marketing tool. Farther down the list was the use of blogs (19 percent), podcasting (11 percent) and RSS (10 percent) for generating sales.

SMB's are also apparently updating their Web sites more often. In an Interland report from the fall of 2003 only 37 percent indicated they update their site once a month or more. That number has jumped to 52 percent in the current study. The report also indicated the frequency of updates tend to grow once the website has been online for a period greater than one year.

Sales weren't the only criteria by which SMB's evaluate the success of their sites. The study found that a majority (54 percent) of respondents use customer and prospect comments as a success evaluation criterion. Site traffic (48 percent) came in second. Sales leads came in third at 36 percent and online sales fourth at 24 percent.

Creating efficiencies such as having few phone calls was noted by 21 percent of respondents.

On different note, the study also found that 70 percent of SMB's reported backing up their computer files on a weekly basis and 34 percent back up on a daily basis. 97 percent said they have anti-virus software on their PC's and 80 percent have anti-spyware tools installed.

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