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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 25, 201212:00 PM EST

Web.com: Small businesses consider mobile marketing crucial to growth

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Jacksonville-based Web.com Group Inc. reports that 69 percent of small businesses consider mobile marketing crucial to their growth in the next five years.

In recognition of national Small Business Month, Web.com announced results of a Small Business Mobile Survey.

It found that while 69 percent of small businesses considered it critical, a majority had not taken full advantage of mobile marketing.

Web.com said that comScore reported that 82.2 million of the 234 million U.S. mobile customers use a smartphone. ComScore measures digital marketing.

“Today’s mobile consumers are seamlessly searching, processing and making a purchase decision via smartphone devices,” reports Web.com.

“But are U.S. small businesses ready to attract the mobile consumer or are they missing out on a golden opportunity?”

Web.com Chairman and CEO David Brown said in a news release that it’s imperative for small businesses to “invest in a mobile presence.”

“Having a mobile presence can be a huge competitive advantage for small businesses trying to attract local customers by instantly introducing a potential customer to their business’ products and services in a mobile-enhanced way,” he said.

The Web.com survey results show the current state of U.S. small businesses using mobile technology, including key motivations and challenges in integrating mobile into their marketing mix and their plans for future investment in mobile marketing. 

The seven key findings:

• Key to growth.

“There has been a significant increase over the past year in overall awareness and acceptance that having a mobile presence is critical to small business growth,” the survey reported.

The 69 percent of the small businesses surveyed who agreed that mobile marketing is a key to their growth said they will consider increasing their mobile spend this year.

• Mobile presence lacking.

U.S. small businesses maintain a good Web presence but lack a mobile presence.

While 60 percent of small businesses surveyed have a website, only 26 percent have a mobile-friendly website. Such websites have the same layout and content as the standard site but are adjusted to suit smartphone screens.

An even smaller percentage, 14 percent, of small business owners have a stand-alone mobile website, in which the content and layout is designed specifically for mobile purposes.

• Mobile presence boosts business.

The survey found that 84 percent of small businesses with a current mobile presence see increases in new business activity.

Of the small business owners surveyed, 14 percent have a stand-alone mobile website, of which 84 percent indicated that they have seen an increase in new business activity because of their mobile-marketing efforts.

“This alone serves as validation to make the move into mobile for the majority of small businesses that are skeptical to invest in mobile efforts,” it said.

• Mobile search strategies lacking.

While mobile searches become mainstream, small businesses still are not ready to be found via smartphones.

“There is a large gap between the rapidly increasing mobile search volumes and the majority of small businesses (are) lagging behind in mobile search strategy,” the survey said.

More than 61 percent of small businesses currently do not have a mobile search strategy. Web.com said they are missing out on consumers trying to find them via a smartphone device.

• Serving existing customers.

The biggest motivation to embrace mobile is to provide better serve to existing customers, said Web.com.

Asked to rank their top motivations to invest in mobile marketing, small business owners indicated their top three motivations were to provide better service to existing customers (38 percent), attract more local customers (36 percent) and gain a competitive advantage (34 percent).

• Lack of time and resources.

The biggest hurdle to embrace mobile is limited time and resources, the survey found. “It’s not surprising that time and resource limitations prevent small businesses from entertaining new solutions to market themselves,” said Web.com.

The survey found that 64 percent of small business owners also are acting as their one-person marketing team. “This puts pressure on the small business owner to wear multiple hats and find the time to build a mobile presence besides running other aspects of their business,” it said.

• Spending more this year.

The survey found that 64 percent of small businesses will spend more on mobile marketing this year. It explained that 64 percent of the small business owners surveyed expressed an intention to increase their mobile investments this year.

Another 33 percent indicated that their mobile spending this year will remain the same as last year. 

The survey was conducted online via social networks from April 5-12 among 500 small business owners, defined as those having fewer than 100 employees.

Web.com Group provides Internet services and online marketing solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses.

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