time warner business classIt’s more important for a small business to have a website than it is for the business to advertise on the air, conduct loyalty programs or have a Facebook page, according to a small business website survey from Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC).

Consumers expect small business websites to include more than clearly, concisely presented product and pricing information, according to TWCBC’s ¨Small Business Technology Impact Study.¨ They look for personal stories and the history of small businesses, TWCBC highlights in a news release.

Small Business Website Survey
“It’s no secret that small business owners are hungry to get a prospect’s attention, while keeping their current customers coming back for more,” Maureen Link, Group Vice President, Small Business, Time Warner Cable Business Class, was quoted as saying.

“Our recent survey findings can help empower small business owners to rethink their strategies and start thinking critically about how they invest in technology and gain more customers. For example, in many cases no online connection means no customers: one out of two consumers surveyed said they avoid small businesses without websites or social monitoring.”

An active social media presence is another critical facet of small businesses’ commercial footprint, according to the study results. That’s especially the case if a small business caters to females.

The release of TWCBC’s study coincides with the start of National Small Business Week, which is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). According to the TWCBC small business website survey:

  • Regardless of business type more consumers may not shop at small businesses who don’t have a website (36%) than those who don’t have a loyalty program (20%) and don’t advertise on TV/Cable or radio (12%).
  • Small businesses should set up a website first if they have to choose between that and a Facebook page. Depending on the type of small business, as many as 50% of consumers surveyed said they might not buy from a company without a website.
  • Small businesses should consider using their websites to share their stories. 93% of consumers surveyed said that knowing the owner helped attract and retain them as customers. Additionally, 70% of those surveyed said that sharing the owner’s photo along with a story about their business on the website was effective.
  • 56% of those surveyed feel a website with relevant business information is the most important necessity for a small business.

Social Media, Mobile Options
Turning to small businesses and social media, TWCBC advised:

  • Monitor review sites or you could lose customers: nearly 1 in 5 consumers surveyed won’t frequent small businesses who don’t respond to comments on Yelp or other review sites.
  • If you’re choosing between setting up a website and starting a Facebook page for your business, know that up to 30% might not buy from a company without a social media presence, according to the TWCBC small business website survey.
  • If most of your customers are women then make sure you have a social presence: over 46% of women say that regularly posting on Facebook is very effective at attracting or keeping them as a customer, compared to only 32% of men.
  • 50% of 18-34 year olds, 42% of 35-54 year olds, and 24% of 55+ year olds prefer businesses that regularly post to their Facebook pages.

Furthermore, it turned out that Millennials were more interested in getting to know the story of a small business owner than their older counterparts. More than 7 in 10 Millennials 18-34 (73%) as compared to 63% of those 55 and over said including a photo of the owner and a story about their business on their website is a ¨very¨ or ¨somewhat¨ effective way to attract and retain them as customers.

Small business owners should also consider including other mobile services or apps, such as bill payment, when looking to attract and retain Millennials, according to TWCBC. Nearly 3 in 10 Millennial shoppers (27%) said they considered mobile payments a necessity. That compares to just 19% of those 35-55.

In addition, nearly one-quarter of 18-34 year olds (23%) said they preferred a small business that has a mobile app for promotional discounts, orders and/or appointments.

On the flip side, not doing enough to ensure the security of personal customer data is the quickest and easiest way to lose customers, TWCBC found. Eight in 10 respondents (79%) said it’s necessary for small businesses to take measures to keep customers’ personal and financial data secure, more than 20% higher than the second-ranked necessity.

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