When many first-time entrepreneurs try to sell their product online, they quickly learn that it's harder than people make it seem on the internet. Good advertising is one way to bring consumers to a online store, but recent research suggests that a diversified approach may be best for catching customers. A survey from Clutch provides useful insights into how people shop online and what they are looking for when they do.

According to findings from Clutch, seven out of ten (70 percent) online shoppers prefer to purchase through Amazon, Etsy, eBay or other online marketplaces. This doesn't mean that small business owners with online stores are out of luck. The survey results suggest that small business owners can reap big benefits by selling through these marketplaces in addition to their dedicated online stores.

There are several reasons why consumers use multiple online marketplaces and comparison tools to do their online shopping. The majority (57 percent) of shoppers in the Clutch survey said they prefer an online marketplace for seeking lower prices found by comparing items from multiple brands at the same time.

Keeping with the theme of savings being a draw for online consumers, more than a third (37 percent) of the online shoppers said discounts or coupons can attract them back to retailers' websites. Ironically, just one in three shoppers (33 percent) cited convenience as the key motivator to shop online rather than in a physical store.

Despite these multiple reasons for shopping online, it's important business owners to make consumers feel comfortable with shopping online and develop a strong brand presence. In the Clutch survey, when thinking about their most recent purchase, three in ten (30 percent) shoppers said they found the item while browsing online, but only after already deciding whether to shop on an online marketplace or a specific retailer's website.

The study also provides insight into the best ways to alert consumers of a business's online offerings. In this survey, browsing through a store's website is what brought 30 percent of the respondents to the product they eventually bought. In contrast, 18 percent said they found the product the bought on Google. And nearly equal amounts of people learned of products through friend referrals (11 percent) or advertisements (10 percent).

The fact that referrals from friends and ads had nearly equal influence on consumers is something marketers can take to heart. When people aren't already motivated to buy a product (which they would be if they're searching Google or browsing through stores) then using advertising is just as effective as getting a person's friend to mention a product.

The news is even better for search advertisers and SEO marketers. Since nearly a fifth of consumers find online products through Google search, the time spent crafting an effective SEO strategy is well spent. As many studies have shown, the higher up a link is on the search results page, the more likely people will click on it. So SEO is still an important part of information about products to potential customers.

PPC ads on search engines are even better because the link is guaranteed to have high placement. And as much as people complain about ads, a small business that has the budget to run quality ads automatically gains some reputability in the eyes of the consumer.

As the holiday shopping season draws closer, it will become more and more important for business owners to use multiple channels and marketing tactics to catch the attention of consumers. As this data from Clutch shows, there isn't a single path to purchase that every consumer takes. Business owners will need to create multiple paths that lead consumers back to their online store.

For more tips for connecting with modern consumers, read this article on targeting consumers who are constantly switching screens.