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How Do Customers Find Small Businesses? Survey Says… [INFOGRAPHIC]

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In an increasingly digital world, consumers find small businesses in more and more varied ways. Whether through word of mouth, or a Google search, or a social media share, there’s no doubt that digital plays a role in who shops with you.

To find out more, and help local businesses capitalize on growing trends, Vistaprint Digital surveyed over 2,000 consumers in the U.S. about the elements of a small business’s identity that factor into their decisions. The infographic below details the findings of our Digital Impact Report – some of which might surprise you! Keep scrolling after the graphic for more details and helpful tips:

Vistaprint Digital Impact Report

They start online

When an independent business opens its doors, the first customers are most often family and friends. As the owner, you tell those closest to you that you’ve taken on a new venture, and they spread the word to their close network in support. A little later on, it can be hard to imagine that strangers across the web are now finding your business! But they are. In fact, our survey showed that people rely on online research just as much as word of mouth (around 35%) when looking for new small businesses to patronize. Make sure you’ve optimized your website and search presence to take advantage of the trend!

They check out your website

While many independent businesses are still found through word of mouth or by window shopping, we’ve found that websites are incredibly important to people’s buying habits. Not only are 34% of respondents unlikely to shop with a business that doesn’t have a website, nearly half (45%) are dissuaded from buying by a poorly-designed site.

When looking at these numbers, you might be surprised to hear that around half of U.S. small businesses still don’t have a website! If you’re in the half that does, you’re ahead of the curve. If you don’t yet have a small business website, good news; if you start one soon you will be ahead of around half of your peers. Just make sure you choose a website builder that you feel comfortable with, because an unprofessional result can mean lost sales.

They read online reviews

As a person who shops with local businesses and visits local restaurants yourself, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that consumers put a huge amount of stock in reading online reviews before patronizing a business. In fact, 75% of survey-takers reported reviews are important to them. Perhaps even more importantly, 50% said that bad online reviews were the thing most likely to prevent them from choosing a particular business.

Make sure you keep on top of your business’s local search profile on sites like Yelp and Google Local. It’s very important that your business is listed on these directories, but equally important that you engage with the people leaving reviews there in case something negative pops up that needs to be responded to.

They expect to connect

It used to be that only certain types of businesses, or those that market to millennials, felt the need to maintain a social media presence. But in the last decade of explosive social media platform growth, Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, and the like have become ubiquitous – even for small businesses. Not only can social media marketing drive valuable traffic to your website, it also provides a space for customers to engage with your business. We found that 60% of people think it’s important to for a small business to have a presence on social media. Does yours?

Were there any statistics on our Digital Impact Report on Online Identity that you found surprising? What resonated with you the most? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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About the author

Sarah Matista

Sarah Matista is the marketing communications manager at Vistaprint Digital, the digital services division of Vistaprint. Sarah is passionate about SMBs, the District of Columbia, her food photography business, and whales. Not necessarily in that order.

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