For many industries, moving to the Internet was an obvious decision. However, in the industrial world, many companies needed a lot of pressure before they were willing to have a web presence and to take it seriously.
Twice a year, ThomasNet conducts a survey and releases the data in their Industry Market Barometer. The IMB surveyed 3,370 professionals who are all from North America. The majority are from small companies that have fewer than 100 employees and less than $10 million revenue.
The results from the survey demonstrate a changing industry, where companies are realizing that a website is not only necessary, but actually a tool that can generate increased revenue.
Three-quarters of those surveyed reported that their website had a big contribution to revenue growth from July to December 2010.
In the survey, a sub-group “Outperformers” is a company that had experienced growth in the second half of 2010 and anticipated growth in the first half of 2011. Of these “Outperformers,” 42% stated that their website contributed to new revenue growth, 53% said that it opened up new sources of business and 54% revealed that it helped serve customers more efficiently.
These numbers demonstrate that more industrial buyers are moving online, which has made the importance of having a website far greater.
Unfortunately, many of these industrial websites don’t properly serve the buyer’s needs. Many of the buyers surveyed admitted to numerous challenges in working on these websites.
Of those surveyed, 42% revealed that not enough detailed product or capabilities information available made it difficult to purchase. Over a third said that a lack of pricing was a major challenge. The greatest challenge, though, was with the 47% of those that wished there were comparison features on a website and that the absence of these features made buying harder.
With this data, it is important for industrial companies to make changes to their websites to ensure that these needs are met. With so many buyers wanting to purchase online, getting rid of these challenges could easily increase revenue.
One part of the Internet that these companies don’t have much experience with—and are still having a hard time accepting—is social media. A large group of those surveyed said that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter aren’t very important to their business. What is promising is the growing number that do recognize the importance. Half said that Industry Forums are their preferred method of social media followed by 43% who like blogs.
The Internet is obviously growing faster than most companies can keep up with. However, what is apparent is the need for these companies to assimilate their Internet business to their overall business. This will allow them to maximize revenues and continue to grow. With the sluggish economy, these companies need to find revenue anywhere they can. The Internet, as this survey demonstrates, is one effective place.