Small Local Businesses Need Websites Too

Three women searching for local products and services online

In 1995 only 1 in 10 Americans had internet access. Five years later that number was up to 5 in 10. Today there are over 300 million people in the United States, and over 240 million of them are online. That’s nearly 80%, and it’s still rising every year. When it comes to teenagers, the number is over 95%.

Today over 75% of U.S. households use the internet as an information source when shopping locally for products and services. That is, when they want to buy something locally, or find a local service whether it’s a hair salon, or a restaurant, or a contractor, they search online for that person.

60% use the internet as their ONLY source of information as they’ve ditched the Yellow Pages. Think on that if you’ve spent money for a Yellow Pages ad recently. 60% of American households don’t even let that book in their door anymore. It goes from the stoop to the trash (or probably the recycling).

Over half of Americans surveyed say they “shop online, purchase offline”. That is that even though they look for products and services on the internet, they still prefer to find what they want and then call, or physically go to a store to purchase it. Just because they’re searching online, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in your business.

In fact nearly 90% of people searching for local products and services follow up their searching with “offline” contact with the actual business.(that is a phone call, an email, physically going to the location.)

So for any particular age group from teenagers to adults, the chances they have internet access these days is anywhere from 80 to 95%. The vast majority of those people use the internet to find local services and products, and even a supermajority ONLY use the internet to find your business. And if they find your business and you offer what they want, over 90% of them will follow up with you in some way, even if that means just stopping by.

Also 90% of the searching is done directly through search engines, and the majority of those people don’t search past the first page of search results, and barely any past the third page of results. Those people are likely to look at no more than 3 to 5 websites, and are most likely to contact and follow up with the one which looks the most professional, and is the best designed, and conveys the right information.

Lastly, even if your business runs on referrals, the best place for those these days are on social networks tied into your website. Over half of all Americans are on Facebook, and a quarter of them are over the age of 45. It’s not just for kids. In fact 60% of Facebook users are over the age of 25. Referrals for products and services via links in Facebook are trusted by nearly 80% of users (versus trust levels for an advertisement that are under 20%).

Anyone know a good plumber? Where do you get your kids hair cut? Is there a decent Ethiopian restaurant in town? Questions asked on Facebook, that are answered with a link to a local business.

So you tell me. Does your small local business need a good website and social media presence?

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