Is your business making the most effective use of its website? If you’re running a small or medium-sized enterprise in the UK there’s a good chance the answer is no according to research from the marketing specialist Vistaprint. Its analysis of 1,000 sites launched and maintained by UK SMEs found five common mistakes businesses up and down the country repeat time and again. Some 98 per cent of the sites in the research featured at least one of these errors:
A third of SMEs (33 per cent) use the same handful of hackneyed and over-employed adjectives to describe themselves. The most common descriptors employed, Vistaprint says, are friendly, independent, specialist, family-run and experienced. And while none of these words are offensive or misleading, the fact that they appear on so many SME websites means they have little impact. Businesses using them risk just blending into the crowd.
Almost all SMEs use just a single colour in their logo and for 46 per cent of the websites surveyed, that colour was blue. Businesses showing greater imagination in their use of colour have an opportunity to stand out, establishing themselves as vibrant and confident – colour sends important messages to potential customers, Vistaprint argues, while lack of colour gives the impression of a lack of personality. More than a quarter of SMEs (28 per cent) make the mistake of setting their websites on a white background, missing an opportunity to raise their brand’s profile against the rest.
More than three quarters of SMEs in the UK (77 per cent) use more than one font on their websites, while more than half (51 per cent) use more than three. This risks creating perceptions of messiness, inconsistency and lack of clarity. By contrast, a well-chosen font will positively affect the way that website viewers perceive the business, Vistaprint claims.
More than two-thirds of UK SMEs use only one or two descriptors on their website and are failing to communicate to potential customers about what they stand for. Vistaprint’s advice is to think harder about to create a business identity capable of attracting and retaining customers.
Some 5 per cent of SMEs either have no imagery at all on their websites or are using pictures that have no connection to their businesses. Better use of images can help promote sharing and engage website visitors, Vistaprint says.
Jake Amos, head of UK marketing at Vistaprint, said too many small businesses were failing to use their websites effectively, missing an opportunity to communicate their points of differentiation and competitive advantage to both existing and potential customers.
In a multi-channel business environment, where online marketing and e-commerce are increasingly important to many businesses, that could ultimately prove to be an expensive mistake.
“Small businesses were born to stand out from the crowd,” Amos said. “There are so many brilliant creative and individual small businesses in the UK, but there is a disconnect in how many of them communicate that individuality to the world.”
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