local-website-requirementsWhat do Consumers Value in Local Business Websites?

Forward Push engaged more than a hundred people regarding their feelings on local business websites. As a San Francisco Bay Area and Nashville based marketing firm committed to small businesses and start-ups, these findings provided critical data to pass along to our customers regarding why certain aspects of their website — including the very notion of having a website — are so important to their business. Responders ranged in age between 25 and 54 across both genders.

Key questions examined in survey:

  • Do Local Business Need Websites?
  • Does Quality of Content Matter?
  • What Features Do Consumers Want In A Business Website?

Do Local Businesses Need Websites?

Key Findings

  • 8% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business if it has a website.
  • 6% of consumers are put off when a local business website appears unprofessional

Analysis

In the digital age, a website is the key marketing piece for many businesses. It’s the culmination of branding, message, and functional communication with a potential customer. It’s also a business standard — chances are, if you tried to think of a business that didn’t have a website, you’d be hard-pressed to actually locate one.

Thus, if you don’t actually have a website, that fact immediately reflects poorly on your business. This is the expectation now for businesses, and its appearance matters. With 2/3 of surveyed consumers stating that they are put off when a local business website appears unprofessional, that means that a modern design, strong branding, and well-written content are all needed to ensure maximum conversion with potential customers.

However, beyond consumer opinion, local businesses simply lose out on customers. It’s second nature to Google whenever a product or service is needed. This is especially so when you factor into the geo-location and instant access capabilities of smartphones.

Does Quality of Content Matter?

Key Findings

  • 8% of consumers feel that the quality of writing and design reflect poorly on a business’ credibility.
  • Poor quality content and poor quality photos are the two most cited problems on local websites.

Analysis

Simply having a website isn’t enough — it must give off the air of professionalism, from the way that it looks to the way it reads to the way it functions. What penalty will you pay if you don’t fulfill these needs? Nearly 82% of surveyed consumers feel that poor writing and design reflect poorly on a business.

Think about what that means: if a consumer is choosing between your local business and a competitor’s, your website may be the tipping point between winning their business and losing out to your fiercest rival. First impressions matter, and considering how many people use websites as their first impression of any business, it’s clear that both design and content writing are worth an investment. Not only will they probably win you new business, they will also prevent you from losing business to your closest competitor.

Regarding video, that’s the latest technology trend. As smartphone data rates and broadband/wi-fi transmission speeds become more consumer-friendly, we’re seeing more and more integration of video into website content. In this survey, 38.2% of those surveyed said that video content — particularly helpful videos or introductory videos — made them want to use the business more. This falls in line with research from Google: their consumer survey found that online video resulted in a 78% increase in offline sales.

In short, consumers are smart. They can easily discern the difference between quality work and something that’s simply been thrown together. And in terms of being tech savvy, more than a third of consumers are enticed and influenced by video. So remember, it’s not just about having a website; content matters.

What Features Do Consumers Want In A Business Website?

Key Findings

  • Basic business information — hours, address, phone number — are the most important features of a website.
  • 44.8% of consumers still prefer getting in touch with businesses over the phone.

Analysis

It’s easy to give into overstuffing your website with content or wanting to highlight the latest features offered by technology. But remember that technology is more than bells and whistles; in fact, going overboard on fancy features may clutter your website as well as confuse the user.

Instead, consider what a consumer actually needs to know and use that to direct your layout, message, and content. When someone visits a local business website, chances are they want to know 1) how can they get in touch and 2) what services you offer.

Those should be front-and-center on your site. With strong graphic design and content writing, that can be presented and integrated into a number of ways. However, they should be easily accessible to address the immediate needs of users.

What about other features? 48.9% cited blog updates as being the least importing piece of information on a local business. This makes sense: a blog update isn’t going to matter much to consumers if they can’t even contact the business. However, that’s not saying that a blog isn’t useful. Blog posts are a way to engage repeat customers with useful information. They also build your site’s search engine footprint. These two avenues impact your overall revenue, so while it’s not as important as having your basic info available, it’s still a worthy investment.

infographic-what-local-business-websites-must-have

Summary

To summarize, consumers feel that a website is a necessary part of modern business. They feel so emphatic about this point that a majority of consumers feel that a lack of a website reflects poorly on the business. The very existence of a website isn’t enough, though; as websites can create the first impression of a local business, the quality of written content, design, and photographs matters to consumers. Poor quality on any of those also reflects on the business. However, the content that matters the most to consumers is a simple and efficient way of getting in touch — that means displaying a phone number, address, and email are key.

In short, a website is a worthwhile investment for your local business. Not only is it an essential marketing tool, the quality of all website elements can be the difference between winning and losing a consumer.

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