63% of consumers turn to the Internet first when looking for local products and services

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Web? A lot of small businesses, that’s who. For the most part, that fear appears to be grounded in a lack of information about the actual costs and benefits of operating a Web site and engaging in some strategic e-marketing efforts.

Web marketing, in large part, is the province of companies with enough money to plaster their messages, goods and services all over the Internet. Missing from this equation is the traditional engine of American commerce: the small business.

A recent study showed that there is a major disconnect between the way most consumers look for goods and services on the Internet and the way small businesses use the Web to advertise.

The study, which surveyed nearly 4,000 U.S. Internet users on the tools they use to find local businesses, was conducted last November by Nielsen and WebVisible. Participants in the survey included 261 small business owners.

Here’s what Nielsen and WebVisible discovered: Search is the No. 1 choice of consumers and small business owners alike when looking for a local product or service on the Internet. Yet, half of all small businesses spent less than 10 percent of their marketing budgets on Internet ads.

In essence, most small businesses are missing out on a huge segment of the consumer population that turns to Internet search engines.

The biggest problem small businesses face when it comes to Web marketing is an attachment to an old way of doing business. It’s clear in many cases that small businesses simply don’t understand the inherent power of the Internet as a way to reach their customers

In fact, 63 percent of consumers turn to the Internet first when looking for local products and services, according to the Nielsen/WebVisible survey.

At the same time, only 44 percent of small businesses surveyed said they had a Web site.

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5 Responses to 63% of consumers turn to the Internet first when looking for local products and services

  1. davehatter says:

    Suzanne,

    Nice article, you are spot on! This problem will only get get worse for those small businesses that don’t participate in the web as an increasing number of folks will start their search for products and services there.

    I can’t even remember the last time I picked up a phone book, and would only do so as an absolute last resort.

  2. Hi Suzanne,

    Internet is now considered as the number marketing tool. Back here in Singapore, 80% of the small medium enterprise (SME) have alredy focus on the internet as their main sales and marketing tool. No doubt about the power of net and web 2.0

  3. Jay McKeever says:

    Hi Sue,

    It’s kind of like the old, “you can lead a horse to water…” for many small business owners. They are so busy with day to day operations that marketing tends to take a back seat. Even worse, the internet is often seen as a luxury but not a necessity. Good stuff from you–good luck!

    Jay

  4. […] 63% of consumers turn to the Internet first when looking for a local product or service.  Your website is accessible by more people than any of your marketing materials. Make your site a priority by keeping it updated. […]

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