American Express OPEN Forum has released a study giving some insight into this group. Here is a snapshot of what the surveyed companies said about their Internet efforts.
This next chart outlines what their plans are for the remainder of 2011.
One thing that is apparent is that at least most of the companies surveyed at least have a website! That’s progress. Depending on the source, the percentage of small businesses that still don’t have a website today can run as high as 50%. Now that we are getting close to the 20 year anniversary of this commercial Internet thing it’s one would think that the basics would be covered by now.
One interesting piece that stood out was a statistical match of sorts regarding Google Places. Of all the Place Page listings only about 10% of been verified. Interestingly enough only 10% of the surveyed companies are paying attention to this very important area (at least when it comes to Google and local search). Why is that? It’s because outside of Portland, OR Google doesn’t promote these assets so most SMB’s are still unaware of their existence in some cases and importance in many cases.
So the SMB space continues to garner attention but how much progress are we seeing? That’s debatable. Any progress that has happened to this point can be attributed to early adopters and SMB’s who have some level of tech savvy. The rest who are often older and more traditional in their business ways and marketing efforts need real help and the Internet marketing industry has fallen flat on its face in this regard.
The industry wants to always sell these people something rather than educate them, bring them up to speed then give real life solutions. Real life solutions require heavy customization and customization doesn’t scale. As a result, it is ignored and the products and service presented to this market are often short-sighted and poor options for the SMB.
How do we get out of this cycle? Education will need to be done from the top down. I am waiting for who between Google and Bing will actually invest in programs to educate the SMB space about the Internet as a whole. I doubt Google ever will so the door is left wide open for Bing but I don’t know if they have the chops to walk through it and take advantage. At least, they haven’t shown that desire to this point. In conversations I have had with Bing they seem to want to do this but wanting and doing are two very different things.
So the SMB space remains the Wild West of the Internet space. When it is corralled, tamed and trained in the right ways the Internet marketing industry will be very busy. When it will happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
What are your thoughts?