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e-Relationships With Buyers Is Key To Small Business Growth

[ 0 ] Oct. 7, 2013 | SBO Editor

Small businesses are missing out on revenue, loyalty and customer engagement
opportunities by not extending face-to-face relationships with
consumers into the web and social media, according to a national survey
of 3,000 consumers and small business decision-makers
by Web.com Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:WWWW).

Nearly 30 percent (850) of the respondents were small business
decision-makers, allowing the survey to capture insights about the
relationships between consumers and small businesses, as well as
determine if small businesses are taking advantage of the web and
social media to build connections with customers.

“Small businesses have historically relied on face-to-face
relationships to grow and differentiate themselves, but today’s
consumers are demanding that these relationships extend into ‘e-Main
Street’,” said David Brown, chairman and CEO of Web.com. “Our survey
found a significant disconnect between how small businesses
decision-makers think they are delivering on customers’ expectations
versus the reality of consumers’ perceptions. The good news is small
businesses are starting to realize the web’s untapped potential to
reach consumers who are eager for online engagement.”

Following are the top five survey findings and implications for small

1. Consumers prefer to work with small businesses because of strong
personal relationships.

—  Personal involvement, engagement and connection are the most important
reasons why consumers choose small businesses over larger brands.
—  More than eight out of ten consumers say it’s important that small
businesses are “easy to do business with;” “personal, intimate, human,
face-to-face;” “customer-focused;” “reliable, there when you need them
most;” and “local, close-by, convenient.”

2. Consumers expect small businesses to build strong “e-relationships”
through the web and social media. Currently, the majority of small
businesses are not delivering on these expectations.

—  83 percent of consumers say that having website and use of social media
is important to their consideration and choice of a small business.
—  In significant contrast to these expectations, only 34 percent of
consumers say that small businesses they’re familiar with have a
business website.

3. The majority of small business decision-makers overestimate their
web and social media capabilities compared to what consumers expect.

—  For consumers, there is a 33 percent gap between the importance of small
businesses having a web/social media presence versus how their
expectations are being met (83 percent important to have; 50 percent
meeting/exceeding expectations). In contrast, for small businesses,
there is only a 10 percent gap (73 percent important to have; 63 percent
meeting/exceeding expectations).
—  61 percent of small business decision-makers rate their websites
positively in contrast to 46 percent of consumers who share this opinion
— a very significant 15 percent difference in perception about how well
small businesses are doing on the web.
—  Ultimately, the survey revealed that these perception gaps may be a
result of the two groups wanting different things. Consumers tend to
seek empowerment, engagement and relationships via the web and social
media, while small business decision-makers emphasize transactions,
awareness and marketing.

4. Small businesses that meet consumers’ expectations for web, social
media, and digital capabilities have a significant opportunity to
improve their bottom line by driving sales, loyalty, and ongoing online
and social engagement with their customers.

—  58 percent of consumers would be influenced to take positive actions if
a small business delivers on their web/social media expectations. Of
these consumers:

—  Approximately 60 percent would likely: check out the business’ website
and social media to find out more about the business; recommend the
business to family and friends; visit the physical store or office; and
learn what other customers have to say about the business.
—  Approximately half of consumers would likely: seriously consider the
small business over larger companies or internet-based businesses; put
the small business on their “short list” of favorites; and make a

5. While small businesses are starting to discover the untapped
opportunity of expanding their web presence, there is more work to be
done before these companies can realize the full potential of their
online and social media capabilities.

—  65 percent of small business decision-makers think they have “good to
strong” knowledge of web and digital technologies and services;
—  Yet less than half (41 percent) of small businesses that were surveyed
have a business website today. Those that do not have a website say that
they don’t see the need for one, or that costs to design it and maintain
it are a barrier.
—  More than half (52 percent) of small businesses with a website have had
it for three years or less, indicating that the web is a new area of
opportunity for them.
—  Today, just over half (57 percent) say that web-based capabilities,
technologies and services are very important to their businesses
overall. However, three out-of-four (73 percent) believe that the web,
social media and wireless will be very important in the future (next
four years) — a highly significant 16 percent increase.

“Small businesses may underestimate the importance of digital
capabilities today, but are beginning to take advantage of available
tools to close the gap,” added Brown. “This survey underscores the
significant opportunities to be gained by building a website and
engaging with customers online.”

*Online survey fielded by Toluna Research from August 9-15, 2013, with
a +/-2.25% to 2.74% margin of error at 95% confidence at the 3,000 “all
respondent level” and a +/-3.00% to 3.49% margin of error at 95%
confidence for the 850 small business decision-makers.

About Web.com

Web.com Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:WWWW) provides a full range of Internet
services to small businesses to help them compete and succeed online.
Web.com is a global domain registrar and further meets the needs of
small businesses anywhere along their lifecycle with affordable,
subscription-based solutions including website design and management,
search engine optimization, online marketing campaigns, local sales
leads, social media, mobile products, eCommerce solutions and call
center services. For more information, please visit www.web.com; follow
Web.com on Twitter @webdotcom or on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/web.com. For additional online marketing resources and
small business networking, please visit Web.com’s Small Business Forum.

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Category: Features