Why does an online presence matter to small business?
Because like it or not, this is how people find out about you and your business. Don’t believe me?
An online study conducted by Intelius showed that 78% of consumers believe it is very important to look up information about people and/or businesses online before deciding to interact or do business with them. Now, online reviews of your small business probably doesn’t happen 100% of the time, but it happens a lot more than you realize.
Impact of Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social media channels have underlined the importance of an online presence. People are far more likely to rely upon the feedback and referrals that receive from their trusted followers and fans than they are to paw through a yellow page directory.
It used to be one would be Googled. Today, prospects and consumers search for a small business’ Fan Page or the Linkedin profile to see what connections they may have with the company and what their connections think about your organization, your service, your product offerings.
Customer reviews can be found on Yelp, CitySearch, Google Places and other online business listings carry a lot of weight.
A personal example was my most recent search for a shoe repair shop. I had used a shoe repair shop downtown several years ago, but wasn’t certain they were in the same location. I was fully prepared to visit this shoe place once I confirmed their location, but that didn’t happen. You see, while I was confirming their address, several negative customer reviews caught my eye and I realized that while they may not have moved, their bar for quality repairs had moved down the scale.
Result: I shopped online for a shoe repair outlet that received a lot of positive reviews and I too became one of their fans and would recommend them highly.
Take aways: Having an online presence is important.
If you don’t have one for your small business, start the process. The quickest way is to claim your free online business listings from Google, Bing and Yahoo. Once you have these, get your current customers involved in reviewing your business and singing your praises.
Once you have established your online presence, monitor it and keep it up-to-date and positive.