The companies saying ‘no’ to a website

The companies saying ‘no’ to a website

Most companies have endured an unprecedented 2020 followed by an unpredictable 2021. But how has this affected their expectations and plans for the 12 months ahead?

For this special report, Azimo Business polled over 1,200 small business owners, freelancers, and sole traders on how they run their business and what they’re planning for 2022.

We asked business owners for their opinion on topics like: 

  • How optimistic they are about 2022.
  • Where they will be investing their budgets for growth – and where they won’t.
  • What are some potential obstacles to their growth?
  • How would they spend a £100K marketing budget?
  • What do they think about influencer marketing?

In part one, we’re looking at the companies that are turning away from traditional websites. Surprisingly, 12% of respondents said that they don’t have a company website – and they don’t plan to launch one in 2022. Perhaps the bright lights of social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn are diverting people’s attention away from traditional company websites. Let’s look at what that could mean for your business.

Small businesses look to LinkedIn, not Google, for growth

It seems like businesses are looking to personalise their accounts on third party sites, in favour of their custom domains. When we asked which channels were most effective for growth, companies like LinkedIn (46.8%) and specialist industry websites (33.4%) outperformed organic search engines like Google (32.7%). 

Is this trend linked to evolving customer needs and expectations?

Marketing expert Charlotte Sheridan certainly believes that there has been a shift. Businesses realise the need to be more ‘human’ in their customer communication. Social channels, for instance, could make this change easier..

“Customer needs have changed and the experience those customers expect has changed too. The rise of TikTok has shown that people’s attention spans have shortened, everything is snappier“.

“We are seeing businesses showing their personalities more on platforms like Facebook. Businesses are turning to their representatives on these channels more than ever to reflect the culture and identity of the business. Human emotion is on show, not just press releases and blog posts” Sheridan explains.

Getting your website back up to speed

Although 41% of small businesses say that their website is essential for growth in 2022, our survey shows that many aren’t happy with it in its current form.

When offered a £100,000 marketing budget, only 13.7% said they would use it on re-designing their website. Whereas nearly half of business owners confirmed they would invest the amount on Amazon and eBay advertising.

We also asked businesses about the improvements they would like to make to their website. The top answers were making it better at capturing leads (42.3%) and improving the design (40.6%). The relatively basic nature of these improvements suggests that small businesses have not invested heavily in their websites in recent years.

“Among many small business owners, there’s a mentality of ‘build it and they will come’ with regard to their websites. They’ve rested on their laurels while new businesses have emerged to provide fresh competition. Now those that sat back are beginning to feel the pressure,” adds Sheridan.

But digital isn’t the only route to market in 2022. While paid media channels remain very popular, customers are savvier than ever to new techniques. Consumers are less easily persuaded by industry tactics and are often looking for personal recommendations instead.

“Consumers are more attuned to advertising online. Even with paid media, many brands are coming to us and saying, ‘Look, this technique earns me half what it did a year ago’, the consumer is far smarter,” says Charly Booth of EngageHub.

When asked about the most effective channels for growth in 2022, some business owners mentioned word of mouth. Interestingly, this answer wasn’t included in the multiple-choice options, but four per cent of respondents chose to enter it manually. 

So how can businesses increase recommendations and boost growth in 2022? If customers are indeed becoming savvier about paid advertising, businesses need to find more authentic ways to acquire customers.

“You can’t just chuck a fiver at a boosted post and hope to make money in 2022. Over the past two years, I’ve had more referrals than ever before, and online communities really support this. I’ve joined some really niche groups on Facebook, for instance, and get asked things like, ‘how do I fix this problem with my tracking?’, and from that you get people referring you to others.

“There’s way more value-add stuff out there like webinars and online groups that enable community building – getting referrals as a natural by-product,” explains Sheridan.

Key takeaways for your business

  • Around 12% of small business owners do not have a company website, nor do they plan to get one.
  • Social media channels such as Facebook/LinkedIn are most effective for growing business.
  • Word of mouth remains an effective channel for growth.

More in the series

Enjoyed part one of this special report? Great. You’ll find more in the series below.