Small Firms Show Web Confidence

December 26, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — The results of Verizon’s 4th annual Small Business Internet survey are in and it reports that even as the economic recession has affected four out of five small businesses, 96 percent of small businesses still plan to maintain or increase Internet expenditures in 2003.

Of the small businesses surveyed, 40 percent reported a less profitable year and 40 percent report flat profits. But that hasn’t changed the attitude, for most, toward the importance of the Internet.

“Today’s small businesses are beginning to treat the Internet as a standard marketing and advertising tool,” said Patrick Marshall, group vice president-marketing of Verizon Information Services. “Our experience with our own small business customers underscores this trend.”

Despite an uncertain economy, has experienced a more than 30 percent increase in customers this year.

Also, the average amount of money each customer invested in their annual Internet presence increased nearly 30 percent in 2002.

“Small businesses that use the Web to market their products and services outperform those that don’t. The promise of the Internet presence increased nearly 30 percent in 2002,” said Marshall.

After launching a Web site, 41 percent of small businesses report an increase in sales volume, and more than half (55 percent) of small businesses with a Web site say the Web sites have generated a profit or paid for themselves. Of the small businesses still without a Web site, 26 percent report they “definitely” or “probably will” create Web sites in 2003.

Overall, 63 percent of small businesses intend to upgrade the functionality of their Web sites. Additionally, 54 percent will add a list of products or services on the Web site and 53 percent plan to change the design of the Web site.

Nearly half of small businesses with a Web site (47 percent) report a higher level of satisfaction this year with the Web site than last year, and 42 percent say the Web site has exceeded or met expectations this year.

“There is a direct correlation between small businesses’ increased use of the Internet and their satisfaction level. The ease of use and availability of online advertising tools is fueling additional investment in Internet activities,” added Marshall.

“As small businesses continue to adopt the tools big businesses are using, including voiceover IP, video and audio enhancements and second-language marketing, the number of small businesses online will continue to grow.”

Verizon provides Web development and Internet advertising services for small to medium-sized businesses, serving more than 100,000 businesses to date.

The Small Business Internet Survey was conducted by The Gallup Organization Inc. for Verizon Information Services. This is the fourth annual Small Business Internet Survey sponsored by Verizon. The on-going study is intended to monitor small businesses in the United States with regard to their attitudes toward and involvement with the Internet as a small business tool.

The random telephone survey of 500 companies in the United States that have 50 or fewer employees was conducted in September.           

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