Small businesses remain the backbone of the US economy. In fact, 98% of businesses in the US have less than 20 employees, with 96% having less than 10 employees. And virtually every one of those 26.5 million small businesses exists in a crowded market where competition for consumers is fierce.
To win consumers’ business, it’s important for small businesses to remain apprised of their preferences and behaviors. We surveyed 614 US consumers to ask them various questions about where and how they engage with and ultimately end up doing business with small businesses.
The raw results of our survey can be found here. You are free to use the results via whatever means you would like, we simply ask that you credit Service Direct for the survey data.
Summary of Findings
Below are some of the interesting insights our survey revealed.
Word-of-Mouth is Still Very Important
Google is still king, but good old word-of-mouth is queen. 66% of respondents said they typically use Google when researching a small business, while 56% said they ask a friend in person. 32% of respondents said they used Facebook.
Mobile’s Lead Continues to Grow
66% of overall respondents reported using their mobile device most often when researching a small business.
When filtering by the 18-59 age group, that number rose to 74%.
Membership in Local Organizations Matters to Consumers
69% of respondents said it was important to them that small businesses be members of local organizations like the BBB or local chamber of commerce, with more than 1 in 3 respondents saying it was either very or extremely important.
A Big Heart Can Make for a Fatter Wallet
50% of consumers were more likely to patronize a small business if they knew that business supported charitable causes.
Having a Bad Website is Worse than Having No Website at All
36% of respondents said they were either unlikely or highly unlikely to patronize a small business that did not have a website. Surprisingly, 51% of respondents said the same about small businesses with outdated websites.
A Recommendation from a Friend Supersedes any Lack of Online Presence
While only 22% of respondents reported being either likely or very likely to patronize a small business without a website, that number rises to 63% if it’s a business being recommended by a friend.
Videos Build Trust and Connections
50% of consumers said seeing videos from the small business would make them more likely to patronize that business, while only 16% disagreed with that statement.
Blogging can Help Seal the Deal
40% of consumers said being able to read more about a company and their knowledge/insights via their blog would make them more likely to patronize that business.
Social Posts & Video are the Most Frequently Consumed Types of Content
51% of consumers engage with social media content from small businesses at least weekly, while 35% consume video content. 28% consume email newsletters at least weekly, while 23% consume a podcast and 18% consume blog content.
A Strong Segment of Consumers Will Opt in to Email Newsletter if Given the Chance
37% said they sometimes subscribed to small business email newsletters, while 19% said they usually do and 6% said they always do.
Happy Customers Love Promos
An overwhelming majority (80%) of satisfied customers are likely or highly likely to do business with a local business again by taking advantage of a promotional offer.
Don’t Sleep on Direct Mail
30% of consumers reported having patronized a small business as a result of a direct mail/coupon offer, virtually the same percentage (30.78%) that reported having patronized a small business as a result of a Facebook ad. Google Local Listing was the leader, with 39% of consumers reporting the same, while a Google ad had succeeded with 24.27% of consumers in the past 12 months.
The Rise of TikTok with the Younger Crowd Continues
TikTok is neck and neck with Facebook with the 18-29 age group. 33% of respondents reported patronizing a local business as a result of a TikTok ad (compared with 37% with Facebook).
Not Asking for Testimonials is a Huge Mistake
Testimonials are invaluable when it comes to building a customer base and not asking for them is a huge mistake. 71% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to provide a review after being satisfied if the company made it easy for them to do so.
Customers Want to Give Online Reviews – Stay Top of Mind
More than half (55%) of respondents said they were likely or very likely to respond to a social media post from a friend requesting a recommendation for a small business.
Google Remains the Dominant Platform for Reviews
42% of respondents said Google is the platform they are most likely to leave a review, while 25% said they were most likely to leave a review on Facebook.