Web Sites Crucial to Customers; Survey

There was a survey that talked about how Web sites are crucial to shoppers. In the survey, a third said lack of a Web site would make them shop elsewhere. Some 28% said that the lack of a Web site would give them doubt or reservations as to buying from that business. But there is more!

The survey goes on to conclude that providing an email makes it easier for customers to get a hold of the business and helps to ensure the customer that there is a clear support chain.

Maybe I am off base but this survey seems like a bunch of bull to me. For the most part, brick and mortar have been the benchmark for legitamacy. A clear address, a physical location shows the company has staying power at least long enough to have a formal place of residence. For the most part, the only time I get bummed with a lack of a Web site is when I want to browse a catalog of sorts. I’m bored I want to see what the selection of products said company has.

But everything about this survey came into clear focus when I noticed a few facts. First off it was commissioned by a Web host. Not that I am immediately blaming Web hosts for not being objective, but if you pay good money for a survey chances are you are going to want that survey to support your company’s focus.

The best part was it was a survey of only 520 househoulds.

I don’t have any recent figures so we will take the 2005 figures for number of Internet users. Based on the Computer Industry Almanac, 1 billion users were using the Internet 2 years ago. So, lets just say the number of users hasn’t grown in the past two years (I figure this can give the survey the benefit of the doubt).

So lets see 520 users… One Billion users as of 2005. Hmmmmmm. As a percentage of the whole that is 5.2 x 10^-7 .

I understand in statistics overall population doesn’t matter. It could be a billion it could be a million. Call me crazy, but if I remember my Statistics class you would need to survey roughly sixteen thousand people for a +/- of 4% accuracy with a 99% confidence level (personally I like having a confidence level of 99%, but they might have thought 95% confidence is good enough). And the bigger thing is, was this cross section randomly called (the survey doesn’t say) or selected from Web savvy individuals?
Personally I don’t put much stock into surveys, but they always give me a good chuckle.