Reputation Management Services: Online Identity Crucial for SMBs

millennials

Online identity is crucial for small businesses. A Vistaprint Digital Services survey finds one third of consumers now discover small businesses online. One in three respondents are unlikely to shop at a small business that does not have a website; 75 percent of respondents shop at a small business at least once per month.

How are consumers discovering the small businesses around them? And what elements of a small business's identity do they look at when deciding where to shop? Vistaprint Digital Services announced the results of its Digital Impact Report on Online Identity. The survey was taken by 2,000 people in the U.S. in April 2016, in the spirit of National Small Business Week.

Top findings include:

  • 75 percent of respondents shop at a small business at least once per month
  • The proportion of respondents that find small businesses online is the same as the proportion that rely on word of mouth, at approximately one third
  • 45 percent of respondents are unlikely to shop at a small business with a poorly designed website
  • 60 percent say it is important for small businesses to have a social media presence

"National Small Business Week recognizes the hard work of small business owners across the country, and their major contributions to our economy as a whole," said Scott Bowen, vice president and general manager of Vistaprint Digital Services. "Our goal with this survey is to provide small businesses with unique data that will help them more effectively reach, attract and retain consumers. Small businesses should understand not only that an online presence is vital to helping them reach new audiences, but that a professional and well-​maintained presence can be the difference between a customer walking in the door and choosing to shop elsewhere."

Key takeaways from the survey include:

CONSUMERS GRAVITATE TO SMALL BUSINESSES

Good news for small business owners. One in three survey respondents shop at small businesses on a weekly basis, while three in four respondents shop at a small business at least once per month. This is especially surprising in light of the fact that only 69 percent of consumers shop online every month. Even as the number of available shopping platforms and channels expands, small businesses are maintaining their strength.

ONLINE PRESENCE IS KEY

Over one third – 36.7 percent – of survey respondents discover small businesses for the first time online, which is virtually the same as the percentage of respondents who report word of mouth as their typical discovery channel. This is especially important given around half of U.S. small businesses still don't even have a website, indicating a major opportunity for these companies to reach much larger audiences.

Online presence is not just limited to websites, either. One in four respondents say that a social media presence is very important for small businesses. The survey also found that one in four millennials now use social media as a first point of research for small businesses, highlighting the growing importance of that medium.

Try reaching Reputation Management Service Users on their favorite social media channels. The AudienceSCAN study reported 30% are on Twitter and 21.5% participate on LinkedIn.

A POOR WEBSITE IS WORSE THAN NO WEBSITE

While one third of survey respondents are unlikely to shop at a business that doesn't have a website, 45 percent of respondents say they are unlikely to shop at a business with a poorly designed or otherwise unprofessional website. This underscores the fact that consumers increasingly expect an online presence, and are savvy enough to identify the elements of a website that indicate a reliable and well-​run business.

REVIEWS ARE A MAJOR FACTOR

75 percent of respondents feel that reading reviews is either somewhat or very important before visiting a location, while 50 percent of respondents say that bad reviews are the most likely factor to prevent them from shopping at a small business. Monitoring and maintaining a positive local listings presence has never been more important for small businesses.

Even Reputation Management Service Users know this! AudienceSCAN results said 16.3% used Yelp to search for information about a local business – including hours, phone number, location and reviews.

MILLENNIALS DRIVE CHANGE

The survey's findings on millennials represent the future of small business shopping behavior. 25 percent of millennial respondents use social media to find small businesses, compared to 7.5 percent of baby boomers. Only one in five millennials surveyed say that an inconvenient location would be a deterrent to shopping at a small business, versus one in three boomers. And, perhaps most critically, only five percent of millennials would be very likely to visit a store with a poorly designed website.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.