SIOUX FALLS, SD -
There is not much we cannot get from the internet. In fact, 97 percent of consumers go online as a key part of their shopping experiences. However, only 42 percent of small businesses in America have websites, causing them to lose money every year. South Dakota Get Your Business Online is helping local business leaders log on and get more attention.
Just like a cookie, a good business starts with strong a recipe.
"Facebook and Pinterest and Google places," The Cookie Jar Store Manager Greg Koch said.
These are just some of the tools Koch uses to promote his downtown business.
Locally, about 61 percent of small businesses in South Dakota are missing a key ingredient to success in the digital age: a website.
"Everyone goes online and they want to know what we have before they come. They look for recommendations. Do their friends go there? Do people in town like it?" Koch said.
People from 200 local businesses filled the Museum of Visual Arts in Downtown Sioux Falls on Monday. The turnout is a big contrast to an audience of about 50 people that showed up during a session in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"It's unbelievable how many chairs we had today," Joe DeMike with Google said.
Google, along with the South Dakota Small Business Development Center and Score Foundation and website-builder Intuit, are helping people create and use business websites.
"I think it's very difficult for a business to thrive online now in 2012. More businesses need a website to communicate and reach out to customers they wouldn't reach otherwise," DeMike said.
Half of the businesses already have websites, but another component of the session is learning how to properly use them to effectively promote the businesses. Koch is one of those learning how to promote his website to increase customer traffic.
"Our family business, it's a mom-and-pop place, but we use technology daily," Koch said. "Today is great to fine tune our skills and make sure we're on the right track."
This program has been set up in several cities in the last year and has put 275,000 businesses online for the first time.
According to DeMike, during the next three years, businesses that use the web will grow 40 percent faster than those that do not.
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