Your small business website is as important to your business as your actual store. Whether you sell products online or not, your website is often how consumers find out about your business, what you do and where you are located. The interesting point that many small business owners still don’t realize is that their small business website is one of the most important elements of their business’ online presence and the data supports this fact!

Did you know that many local shoppers consider a small business website an extremely important factor in deciding to shop with your business? The fact is that a larger percentage do.

What you need to know about a website for your local business isn’t simple, isn’t a do it yourself endeavor and most importantly it isn’t going away. Let’s look at the facts.

What Small Business Needs To Know About Their Website

As a small business, your website is increasingly becoming your window to the world of customers that you are trying to entice to your brick and mortar location. More frequently than ever before, consumers start online when looking for a place to spend their money and the local website is often what either convinces them to come in to your store, or to stay away from your business altogether.

How people find small businesses today

Based on a study earlier this year conducted by Vistaprint, there are a few main ways that US consumers find a local small business. After polling more than 2,000 US internet users, here’s what the study shows on how consumers find a small business.

Online Research 36.7% – Do not underestimate this number. The majority of all users find out about a local business by researching online. No, it’s not from the yellow pages, your newspaper ads, your current customer referrals or anything else. It’s because they were researching something online and came across a website.

Word Of Mouth 35% – Just behind online research as the primary way consumers discover a small business is word of mouth or referrals. This is your customers telling someone else about your small business. The interesting point about this is that it is crucial for the small business to have referrals from their customers, but it is something that can also be done in unison online through effective social media marketing and review sites. Don’t just rely on customers to tell your story, be sure your online and social presence is telling it for you as well.

Social Media 13%  – As we stated above, social media should be an active component of marketing your local business. As you will see below, it isn’t a stand alone, but works with your website to be most effective.

Walk-in 8% – This should seriously get you thinking about your small business marketing efforts. Only 8% of those surveyed said that just coming across a small business and walking in is their primary way of finding out about a small business. If you are relying on location, location, location, you really need to be rethinking your marketing strategy.

How Often Consumers Research A Small Business Online Before Visiting

If the above numbers have not shaken your thinking about your small business online presence, the following facts are certain to. You see, consumers shopping habits have largely changed and it is directly reflected in their purchase journey, or the process they use to make purchases with companies. The majority start online and with your company website.

When consumers in the study were asked how often they research a small business online before they actually visit the business, here where their answers.

Always – 22.8%

Often – 36.4%

Sometimes – 33.7%

Never – 7.2%

So let’s be very clear here. Some 59% of consumers at least frequently research a small business online before doing business with them and only 7% never do. Are you seeing a pattern here and why your small business website is so crucial to your success today? Well, it gets even more intense.

The Two Most Important Small Business Website Facts

Now that you have a much clearly understanding of how your customers are discovering your small business, we wanted to give you what we believe are the most important website statistics you need to know as a small business. These stats show the benefits of having a small business website and the requirement that they be designed and optimized for user experience, professional look and proper messaging. Here’s the small business website facts you have to know.

34% of users said they were unlikely to shop with a small business that didn’t have a website.

45% said they were unlikely to shop with a small business that had a poorly designed website.

Today’s consumer is quite internet savvy and along with that always connected interest comes expectations that even the smallest business must contend with. A small business today must have an incredibly designed website with clear and effective messaging that offers an experience that matches the consumer’s interest and expectations. Then and only then are they willing to consider doing business with your local company.

Is your small business website and internet presence meeting your prospective customers expectations of you, or are almost half of them that visit your small business website deciding not to shop with you?