Despite the critical position a company website has in organisations’ sales and brand armoury, more than a third (39%)of Britain’s small and medium businesses (SMBs) think their closest competitor’s website is better than their own, giving rise to a new breed of website envy among British businesses.

One in five people (20%) don’t actually think their own company website represents their brand. Yet 44 per cent of people say they would consider not even doing business with a company that had an out of date or hard to navigate website and a third (36%) of people would be put off working for a company with a poor web presence, signalling significant revenue and talent loss implications for UK’s SMBs.

The stark findings, from a nationwide study by Decibel Technology, shows that a third (30%) of people put their stale company websites down to clunky content management (CMS).

Companies who do want to make changes to their web presence, however, are potentially being thwarted, with the process for signing off of budgets for website development taking up to one year for 57% of SMBs and between one and two years for 18.5 per cent of them.

“Web envy is good if it inspires businesses to maximise the performance of their own website but the consequences of not acting on this are rather more sobering. What these findings really dramatize is that UK business could potentially be losing hundreds of millions of pounds by deflecting their trade – and even talent – to the competition,” said Ben Harris, Managing Director, Decibel Technology.

“UK businesses clearly understand a website’s influence on potential customers and recognise that competitors’ websites are often much better but in many situations have their hands tied because they haven’t got the right software in place to do anything about it – or budgets are being approved too slowly.”

Other key findings from the study, conducted among 1,222 people holding senior management positions in IT and marketing in the UK – 71.5% from SMBs – indicate that companies are not armed with enough information about website build and management, leading to unneeded cost.

  • One in every two (49%) SMB websites have been overhauled in the past 2-3 years
  • Reasons SMBs cite for having to overhaul or rebuild websites –a rebranding exercise (33%), a change of focus in the organisation (39%) and significant growth in the organisation (31%) – all activities which don’t require companies to start their website from scratch if they source the right CMS in the first place
  • More than a quarter (28%) SMBs say they didn’t think about the longer term needs of their business when building their website
  • A third (33%) of SMBs think the website functionality they now need is for big companies only
  • More than a third (36%) of SMBs say there is too much complexity surrounding CMS, making selection and purchasing hard

Harris concluded: “More companies should recognise at board level that websites need to generate the best ROI possible over the longest period possible. Putting software in place that help them squeeze more leads and sales out over a much long period is now the game they should be in. The good news is the technology pendulum has dramatically shifted.”