Growing pains

1and1 Internet’s Richard Stevenson reveals the importance of a professional online presence

The majority of UK businesses now recognise that a web presence is essential for effective sales, marketing and customer communication. And while salon professionals will always be most concerned with the standard of their work, no firm can afford to neglect its business development.

Thanks to the surge in popularity of smart phones, a growing number of Britons are now browsing the web on the move – making it easy for potential clients to research a business when passing
it on the street. However, according to latest research, too many small business websites are falling behind the times.

A study carried out by 1and1 Internet discovered that 46 per cent of consumers have cancelled their plans to spend with a small business after finding a poor website. Meanwhile, in the same study of nearly 2,000 adults, a further nine per cent opted to spend less as a direct result.

The data shows low levels of consumer satisfaction. And the risk of offering a bad online experience is clear: 49 per cent of consumers believe that a poor website makes a worse impact than none at all.

It’s clear that many small businesses’ websites have failed to evolve like they should have in recent years. One third of consumers surveyed (34 per cent) believe that, in general, the small business websites they use are “tired” and “unimpressive” while 41 per cent frequently find typos or broken URLs. Many consumers feel that many small business websites are unattractive and often do not perform well. So how well

does yours measure up?

Essential feedback

It’s unsurprising that a further study of 480 small firms with a website revealed that 50 per cent have never asked their customers for feedback. However, many owners are aware that they have website problems. Sixty six per cent of firms surveyed admitted they struggle to maintain an attractive website, with the most common pain-point being the sourcing of fresh content (38 per cent). Meanwhile, 30 per cent have been “reluctant” or “embarrassed” to recommend their website to their customers.

Significantly, many British consumers are keen to help businesses create a more satisfying online experience. Given the facility for providing feedback, 33 per cent said they’d provide a review – hence why all companies should add a form to their website or set up an email address for collecting user comments.

Research shows that keeping a badly functioning website can comprise a risk to your revenue and development. Consumers today have higher expectations so it’s essential that your website inspires confidence. So make an investment to improve and see a positive impact on your bottom line.

Head Start

Today there are web packages aimed at helping small businesses launch a compelling and effective website in minutes. In particular, there are packages from around £10 per month that provide a choice of industry- specific templates and content such as those for salons. These packages are designed to be used by any level of computer user and include everything that a hair or beauty professional needs to launch online.

A package comes with a salon- themed template and related pre- filled texts and images. Within such packages, there’ll be tools for social media and mobile functionality and features like feedback forms, relevant images, news and shop functionality.

No enterprise can afford the loss of sales that a poorly presented or broken website can lead to. Every salon owner would be wise to ensure their website grows and improves even modestly every month. Most often, it’s not the ‘wow factor’ that wins out but the consistent and effective sites that are rewarded on today’s web.

For more information on the tools available from 1and1 Internet, visit 1and1.co.uk

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