The Artlab was a guest speaker at a series of events organised by Business Growth Hub and the Manufacturing Advisory Service in November 2013 and February 2014; the theme of the events was ‘Survive and Thrive – Manufacturing meets Digital Growth’.
This blog is Part One of a series of blogs based on our presentation at the events.
Research carried out by Hibu and Impact Research in November and December 2013 with 1,800 SMEs in the UK and US found that:
“More than 2 out of 5 SMEs in the UK and U.S. still don’t have a website.”
Quite a stunning statistic. If you do have a website, you’re already at an advantage, but it’s only the start.
It’s always obvious whether a business invests any attention on their site. The design and even the images look dated or are of poor quality; if there’s a blog or news section, the last item is ancient.
Here are some of the reasons we hear from manufacturing companies about why their websites are not a priority:
“We already know everyone in our market.”
“All our business relationships are offline.”
A strong network of contacts and relationships is a valuable asset but it should be part of a wider plan. Relying on one channel for new business can be risky.
There could be potential business out there you don’t know anything about, maybe opportunities abroad. Markets change, new players come one board and companies go out of business; people move on – your contacts might leave and you then have to start a relationship with someone new, someone who might already have other suppliers in mind.
Companies can also change suppliers and they will research your business and products before making an approach. Your website is very likely to be the first place they will go to for information and this is where first impressions count.
In a Google study in August of 2012, researchers found that users make a judgement about websites within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second.
Visitors to your website will make a judgement about your business pretty much straight away based on their impressions of your site.
Maybe you think that compared to your competitors your site is great. Maybe you think that you’re no Amazon, so having all the bells and whistles is not relevant for a business like yours.
One important thing to bear in mind is that people regularly interact with high quality websites both for personal and business reasons, sites like banks, retailers and social media platforms.
Their expectations of websites will inevitably will be shaped by this and that’s the context that people will judge your site in.
You get what you pay for
When we talk to some manufacturers about their websites we come across recurring themes:
“A student on work experience built it for us.”
“I have a mate who’s going to build it for us.”
Nowadays it seems that everyone knows someone who can build a website.
Often the result can be a site that’s not fit for purpose or of poor quality. It doesn’t give the professional perception that you’re after and more importantly, it doesn’t get you the results you want.
Responsive website design
Digital technologies evolve fast. Smartphones and tablets are common now and they’ve changed the way people access the internet.
In a given month, an average of 23% of page views in the UK come from mobile and 8% from tablet devices (2013 figures, beta data from comScore Device Essentials).
Responsive website design has been developed to address this trend and is now a standard feature of many sites.
In summary, the content of responsive websites adapts (responds) to the device it’s being viewed on. This makes the site user-friendly regardless of the device you’re using.
Why should your business website have a responsive design?
To use an example, one of our manufacturing customers has a responsive e-commerce site selling their products. Google Analytics data shows that nearly 43% of visitors access the site it via a mobile or a tablet.
If the site wasn’t responsive, a visitor would have to zoom in and out to view products and to make a purchase, a frustrating process which would likely lead to the visitor leaving the site to try their luck elsewhere. Potentially losing 43% of your visitors is a significant problem.
If you want to find out the device share of traffic for your business, your Google Analytics account provides a report (Audience / Mobile / Overview) with this data.
A quality, responsive website aligned to the needs of your manufacturing business is the cornerstone of your online presence – the success of your online marketing activities depends on it.
If you’re thinking about updating your website, please contact The Artlab team on 0161 875 2528 to discuss your requirements.