digital acceleration
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Business Without Website: A 2022 Update on Digital Acceleration

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It’s 2022, and the world is slowly going back to a sense of normalcy. Among the most affected by the pandemic are small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), whose marketing budgets are still reeling from the effects of Covid-19 and put a halt to their digital acceleration.

During the pandemic we analyzed the then-current state of digital acceleration. It’s only fair that, now that businesses are resuming their normal operations, we take a look at how things have changed since then.

Want a sneak peek? Here’s what we’ve discovered in our 2022 study:

  • 20% of Belgian businesses don’t have a website and don’t consider them a priority.
  • Almost half of all surveyed companies (47%) say their websites are mobile-friendly.
  • Lack of budget is no longer in the top three reasons for not having a website.
  • Almost 40% of companies that invested in a website after the pandemic say they were less expensive than expected.
  • 33.8% of businesses plan to develop an app, but only 12% use one instead of a website.
  • World events like the pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war had no impact on marketing budgets, except in Spain.
  • Website creation kickstarts further investments in marketing and digital acceleration.
  • Quality content is still businesses’ #1 priority for their websites.

Are there European businesses without websites in 2022?

The overview remains optimistic for the field of website development, since almost half of businesses surveyed (44%) said they have a website, although in the top 3 we also see small businesses without websites or that don’t plan to develop one.

percent of SMBs that have launched websites - digital acceleration chart

However, the study per market tells different stories. Belgium, for instance, has the highest percentage (20%) of businesses without websites and don’t consider them a priority.

It is at least a bit hopeful for Belgium, since this could also be the reason why 23% of Belgian SMBs plan to launch a website in 2023, way ahead of the other countries.

Additionally, in our previous piece 42% of Belgian SMBs did not have a website, so our most recent study highlights an improvement on digital acceleration in that country.

France and Spain are the two leading markets in terms of SMBs with websites, a stark contrast to our previous survey which had the Netherlands and Germany top the list.

comparative table per country - percent of SMBs that have launched websites

How mobile-friendly are these websites?

Almost half of the respondents said their websites are mobile-friendly, yet not too far behind is the 30% that admit it could be optimized for mobile screens.

mobile friendly SMB websites - digital acceleration graph

If you were wondering how much does it cost to make an app, you might want to think again. Mobile apps are still a debated topic among businesses, who mostly said an app was under way, although that number is closely followed by the decision not to develop one.

This result could easily correlate to the number of businesses saying their sites are mobile-friendly but could be optimized.

app vs website creation - graph
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Lack of budget is no longer a concern

The most surprising discovery that our 2022 survey put forward is that lack of budget was no longer in the top three reasons why some SMBs don’t have a website. As a matter of fact, only 14% of surveyed SMBs singled that answer out.

This seems to show that, at least for website creation, the worst part of the pandemic is already behind us.

why don't SMBs have websites - digital acceleration chart

In our previous study, the lack of a dedicated budget for website creation came out as the third reason why there were businesses without websites.

Additionally, it seems there has been renewed faith in this kind of digital acceleration, since almost 40% of companies that did invest in website creation after the pandemic said they were less expensive than expected.

website creation budget expectation for SMBs - chart

Have budgets changed for SMB websites?

The short answer? No. But despite budgets no longer being a main concern for SMBs with regards to website creation, most of the companies surveyed are keeping tight pockets in 2022.

The highest budget considered for website development is anywhere between 1,000 and 5,000 euros across markets, mimicking the same pattern as that of our previous survey.

website creation budgets for SMBs - chart

In terms of overall marketing budgets, not even a global pandemic nor an all-out war stood a chance against digital acceleration, except perhaps for Spanish businesses, who reported that the pandemic decreased their budget.

impact of recent events in marketing budget - comparative table per country

Furthermore, in-house staff came out as the most used resource (29.02%) for web design for small business, closely followed by specialized agencies—the direct inverse of what we saw in 2020.

resources for website creation - digital acceleration graph

Why do businesses without websites decide to invest in one?

In general, the opportunities a website brings (sales/leads/branding/traffic) was the main reason businesses decided to invest in website creation, although Dutch companies in the Netherlands consider the pandemic was the main factor.

what made SMBs invest in websites - digital acceleration chart

Furthermore, our study reveals that website creation could be seen as a catalyst for further investments in marketing and digital acceleration, except for Belgian companies. In Belgium, more than 60% of businesses consider that website creation did not boost more investments in marketing.

website creation as marketing catalyst - chart

SMB Websites’ Priority: Content remains king

There’s no other way to put it: in 2022 content takes the cake of businesses’ website priorities, with almost a quarter of companies willing to focus on top-quality website content creation for their sites. In 2020, it came out in second place, behind having a mobile-friendly website.

Curiously enough, only 11.06% will most focus on improving their website security.

website priorities for SMBs - chart

Digitalization: Better Late Than Never

After two years of tests and trials, the digital world seems ready to get back on track once again. In particular, SMBs appear to be optimistic about implementing or expanding their digital presence.

As more and more businesses without websites get started on their digital journey, we’ll be there to keep an eye out for trends and insights within the digital marketing world. After all, with some companies even questioning the impact of a website in their specific industry, it won’t be long before we uncover what the next step of digital commerce will look like.

Methodology

The study was conducted between April 4th and April 8th, 2022, among 1,000 companies across Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. In the study, we surveyed business owners about the current state of the websites of their SMBs, as well as their plans regarding website creation. The responses are anonymous.

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