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Most Small Businesses Are Discovered Online First

Why not have a mobile-optimized presence too?

June 1, 2016 | Retail & Ecommerce

More than one-third of US internet users said they first find out about small businesses when researching online, according to a survey. Walking into a local store, meanwhile, was the least likely path to discovery.

Primary Way in Which US Internet Users Discover Small Businesses, April 2016 (% of respondents)

Vistaprint Digital Services, owned by Cimpress, polled 2,000 US internet users on the impact of an online presence for small businesses during March and April 2016.

According to the results, 36.7% of respondents said they primarily first find out about small businesses through online research, closely followed by word-of-mouth (35%). Meanwhile, only 8.4% said they usually found out about such firms by walking into the store.

The survey also tracked how often these internet users research a local business online before showing up at its door. Of those polled, 36.4% said they often check out the store online prior to visiting, compared to 7.2%, who said they don’t.

Frequency with Which US Internet Users Research a Small Business Digitally Prior to Visiting, April 2016 (% of respondents)

Based on this behavioral research, and the millions of US consumers with smartphones in hand, small businesses should probably be thinking more critically about their mobile presence. In fact, many are already. In a separate study from Yodle, and Research Now 52% of small businesses had a mobile-optimized website in February 2016. However, alarmingly, 40% said they have not optimized their sites yet.

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