Many small business owners rely on referrals, walk-in traffic and current connections and customers. This is the tried and tested way of cultivating an audience for your goods or services.
So it is understandable when some small businesses are slow to adopt online marketing, since certain marketing tactics may not have seemed effective for them in the past. However, the neighbourhood has changed. With vast numbers of prospective customers online, many businesses are re-evaluating if they should be there, too.
Consumer behavioral research and online activity trends show that business owners should have a strong interest in establishing an active online presence, in order to reach their current customers and future prospects.
88% of home buyers used the internet in their home search. (REALTORS®)
97% of consumers go online to do research on products or services (Google)
85% of consumers use the Internet to find Local Businesses (Yelp)
According to Alexa traffic rank, Facebook, Google and YouTube are the top 3 ranking sites in terms of traffic on the web for the last month. They each represent significant opportunities to market your business.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in his keynote at the National Retail Federation’s convention in New York spoke on some insights about the future of retail, and the possibility of getting left behind.
“We are witness to a seismic change in consumer behavior,” said Schultz. “And that seismic change is linked to technology. Social, digital, and mobile are fundamentally changing the way consumers buy things. Most companies already know this, but have been slow to act. And now, we’re at the point that retailers have no choice but to play catch up. It’s a race against the clock.” (BusinessInsider)
Huge uptick in Facebook’s influence on purchase
Last year, 68% of Americans using social networks said that none of those networks had an influence on their buying decisions. This year, just 36% said that there was no influence. Now, 47% say Facebook has the greatest impact on purchase behavior(compared to just 24% in 2011). Incidentally, Twitter ranks below “other” at 5%. If you want to drive purchase behaviors within social networks, Facebook is the one and only game to play, statistically speaking.
Customer research online is firmly entrenched, and continues to grow in specific ways.