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Is Your Web Presence Getting You More Customers?

A recent survey of consumers and small businesses found that businesses aren't doing as well as they thought at connecting with consumers online.

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Small businesses are missing out on the chance to build their consumer base through social media--and most don’t realize it, according to new data.

A recent study by Web.com found that small businesses underestimated the opportunity they have to build relationships with customers via the web and also overestimated their positive presence online. 

Polling 2,150 consumers and 850 small business "decision-makers" across the country, the August survey found that 83 percent of consumers surveyed said a small business' social media presence and website influence their decision to shop at that business. But only 34 percent of consumers surveyed said that the small businesses they know have a website. 

Even for the small businesses that do have a web presence, most aren’t doing enough, however. Only 50 percent of consumers surveyed reported that small businesses meet or exceed their expectations in terms of a web and social media presence--something most businesses owners don't realize. Of the small business decision-makers who were surveyed, 61 percent rated their websites positively, while only 46 percent of consumers shared the same view. 

The report shed some light on why this difference in opinion might exist: 

The survey revealed that these perception gaps may be a result of the two groups wanting different things. Consumers tend to seek empowerment, engagement and relationships via the web and social media, while small business decision-makers emphasize transactions, awareness and marketing.

About 58 percent of consumers would take positive action if a small business met their web expectations, this survey shows just how important it is for small businesses to use the Internet and social media to their advantage. 

IMAGE: Thomas Barwick/Getty
Last updated: Sep 11, 2013

ABIGAIL TRACY is a staff reporter for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked for Seattle Metropolitan magazine and Chicago magazine.
@abigailtracy




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