34% of consumers think a Smart Website gives a local business more credibility

34% of consumers think a Smart Website gives a local business more credibility
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Key 'Takeaways' From This Post
  • 34% of consumers think a ‘clear & smart’ website gives a local business more credibility
  • 36% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business with a website
  • Lists of products & services are the most important information on a local business website
  • Poor quality content, no phone number & no prices displayed are the biggest barriers to using a local website
  • Most consumers prefer to contact a local business on the phone after viewing their website

What do local consumers want most from local business websites?

In 2014 we ran a survey that explored what local consumers want most from local business websites. We learned that most local consumers expected a local business to have a website. We also drilled down into what website features & content were needed to inspire trust in consumers and help convert browsers into actual customers.

In February 2016 we re-ran the survey – with some minor alterations & 1 new question. We can now see how the past 24 months have changed in the eyes of the consumer. Do consumers see local business websites as more or less critical? Do consumers still expect the same features & content in order to trust a business?

Or has the growth of mobile & tablet usage changed consumer attitudes & consumption in a major way?

In the 2016 survey we had 800 respondents from the United States. The distribution of region, age & gender was pretty equal. We’ve followed up this post with a gender & age breakdown of the findings.

Key areas looked at in 2016 survey

 


Consumer attitudes towards local business websites

Consumer attitudes towards local business websites

(Above): We asked our consumer panel which of the statements best applied to them.

Key Findings:

  • 36% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business with a website (vs 32% in 2014)
  • 34% of consumers think a ‘clear & smart’ website gives a local business more credibility (vs 36% in 2014)
  • 21% of consumers say it doesn’t matter if a local business has a website or not (vs 27% in 2014)
  • 9% say a bad or ugly website can put them off using a local business (vs 5% in 2014)

Analysis:

In aggregate, the findings show that purchase decisions made by local consumers are more impacted by websites now than in 2014.

  1. More consumers contact a business if it has a website (36% vs 32%)
  2. More consumers say they are put off by an ugly website (9% vs 5%)
  3. Fewer consumers will use a business that doesn’t have a website (21% vs 27%)

And…having a smart website gives a local business credibility in eyes of consumers. This metric is down slightly on 2014 but was still chose by 34% of survey respondents.

 

 

To summarise for business owners –

  • Consumers expect you to have a professional website & they are more likely to make contact with you if you do.
  • Having a bad or ugly website may not be the most off-putting thing to consumers either – you stand to lose more by simply not having a website.

Key information on a local business website

Most important factors

Key info on a local business website

(Above): We gave our consumer panel a choice of 18 factors, and asked them which information is the most important to them on a local business website (respondents were asked to select up to 3 answers).

Key Findings:

  • A list of products, opening hours, phone number & price list are the most important information on a local business website

Least important factors

Key info on a local business website

(Above): In this chart we display the factors that were of lesser importance to consumers.

Key Findings:

  • Pictures, accreditations & blog updates are of lesser importance
  • Consumers also don’t see having a ‘mobile friendly’ as a decisive factor in choosing a business

Analysis:

With any website the key objectives are to make it easy for customers to find the information that’s most important to them & to convert them into leads or customers.

Looking at the most important factors we can see which info visitors to local sites are most keen to find. This list varies only slightly from 2014 with the top 5 factors remaining the same –

  1. product/service list
  2. price list
  3. opening hours
  4. phone number
  5. physical address

Last year we referred to this list as the 4 P’sProducts, Phone, Price, Physical Address.

This year ‘opening hours’ has muscled it’s way into 2nd slot so we need to adapt this neat little acronym –

  • If you have any suggestions for an Acronym, then leave as a comment & we’ll publish 🙂

What is clear is that local consumers are after practical information that allows them to very quickly assess if a business meets their needs –

  1. Product list – “does this business provide what I’m looking for?”
  2. Prices – “can I afford to use this business?”
  3. Opening hours – “when can I visit this business & is it open now?”
  4. Phone number – “can I call the business?”
  5. Physical address – “how do I get to the business?”

None of these features/content relates to the design or style of a website.

 

Of the factors that are considered less important, it’s customer testimonials, images (of premises or staff), FAQs, accreditations, or a regularly updated blog etc.

We should clarify that these are good features to have; they will help to inspire trust, establish expertise, answer more tricky questions & even encourage return visits from knowledge hungry customers.

Crucially however they are not the first thing that local consumers are looking for… If a local business can provide the most important info first & foremost then these additional features can be added later to enhance the website experience.

It’s interesting that mobile friendliness is one of the lowest ranked requirements by consumers. We would expect this to be higher as mobile usage increases amongst consumers. We might also expect that younger consumers would rate this higher – we’ll find out in our ‘Gender & Age’ breakdown to be published in March.

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Website factors which make consumers WANT to use a local business

Website factors which make consumers want to use a local business

In Charts 2 & 3 above we looked at the information that consumers considered the most important, ie. a checklist of the features they expect. In this chart we examine the features that are most likely to ‘persuade’ a consumer to use that business. Again, respondents were asked to select up to 3 answers.

Most Important ‘Positive’ Features:

  1. Details about the business (e.g. company origins, products, services, people)
  2. Business proximity
  3. Clear address & contact details
  4. Customer testimonials

These 4 features/content items have the biggest influence on whether or not a consumer contacts & uses a local business

Analysis:

Consumers will be more likely to use a local business if it displays informative company details on its website (e.g. company origins and / or  history, basic details about the products / services offered, the local areas in which the company operates & mission statement, etc). As well as telling a customer what a business does & who’s behind the business, it also reinforces the values & personality of the business which can have a very positive effect on potential customers.

Another important factor is business proximity, meaning how close the consumer is located to that business. Convenience is a factor for many consumers and so using a business near to them is often more convenient that one further away. This is something that’s beyond control of a local business, but it’s worth bearing in mind when thinking about local SEO optimization tactics.

Having clear address & contact details are also key. If consumers have additional questions or concerns about a business then they want to alleviate those as quickly as possible.

Web designers, SEOs & local business owners can use this information as a blueprint for building a successful website. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in design minutiae or subtle functionality, while consumer needs are pretty basic. Deliver the basics first and then worry about the finer points.


Common problems on local business websites

Common problems on a local business website

Note: Having looked at positive factors, we now asked our consumer panel about factors on a website that stop them from wanting to use a local business (respondents were asked to select up to 3 answers).

Biggest Negatives for a local website:

  1. Poor quality content
  2. No phone number displayed
  3. No prices displayed
  4. Business isn’t local enough

Analysis:

If a local business has very little, or poor content (e.g. misspellings, poor grammer, spammy SEO text), then this is a major barrier to potential customers using that business. Of course, this should be common sense to most business owners, let alone SEOs, but it’s useful to bear in mind. If a business can’t even get the words on their website correct then how can a consumer trust it to deliver a quality service?

Likewise, not displaying phone number(s) or prices are clear barriers. Consumers clearly want to get in contact with a local business, and this is often their main reason for visiting the website. So make it simple.

Some websites will hide or disguise product / service costs in the hope of generating more initial leads, but this is often a mistake. Local businesses, like all businesses, should be transparent & upfront in their pricing & make it clear to consumers what they are getting for their money.

Business proximity to the consumer is not something a business can easily change or prevent, and of course, it often depends on the type of businesses.


How consumers prefer to contact a local business

Common problems on a local business website

Key Findings:

  • 41% of consumers prefer to contact a local business on the phone after viewing their website
  • 20% of consumers prefer to email the business
  • 19% of consumers want to visit the business*

*Because not all local businesses have a premises or serve customers at their home/office then this result will naturally be lower

Analysis:

Once a consumer has visited a local business website, the no. 1 preferred method of communication is to call them on the phone (41%). Therefore, it’s obvious that a phone number should be clearly displayed on the homepage.

After this, it’s sending an email (20%), which coincidently comes higher than a contact form (10%). Perhaps consumers feel more confident that an email will be delivered & read, while a contact us form may land in a lonely, unmonitored inbox somewhere!

Some consumers don’t like to use contact forms; not only are they impersonal, but they also don’t allow the user to keep a record of that initial contact – which if it is an important query – can be vital.

A lot of consumers will prefer to visit the store or premises (19%), which reinforces the importance of displaying clear address details and or maps / driving directions.

The most important thing for business owners/web designers/SEOs to note is that different people like to make contact in different ways. So to maximise the conversion to contact, a website should offer as many contact options as possible.


Summary

In summary, consumers want, or even expect a local business to have a website. They expect to find clear lists of products & services, opening hours, contact details & price lists.

Consumers will be encouraged to use a local business if it displays clear company details, contact details, testimonials and is located close to them. What they don’t want to find is poor quality content, or a lack of contact details & prices.

A local business website doesn’t have to be the most complex website in the world, but nor does it have to be the most basic. By all means, draw consumers in with great images, videos, a regularly updated blog & customer testimonials. However, do ensure that the key information they want and expect to find is present and easy for them to find. If local SEOs & business owners can follow these few simple rules, then they will not go far wrong.

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9 thoughts on “34% of consumers think a Smart Website gives a local business more credibility”

  1. Hi there

    I agree. A businesses website is absolutely key when portraying credibility. Thank you for the great article, wonderful graphics also.

    Businesses without a website run the risk of potential customers flocking to competitors that do have a website. If you already have a website but it is “home-made”, having it professionally redesigned will provide your business with a professional image which will inspire even greater confidence. SEO is also another vital key for boosting ranking and visibility within Google.

  2. Hi there

    Interesting article! I am also surprised about the stat showing more people would prefer to email a business rather than fill out the contact form. I personally find contact forms easier and quicker?

    I agree that consumers look for businesses in close proximity to them, and also looking at it from the business prospective, driving local SEO will mean facing less competition. Especially when it comes to keyword related words to your products.

    Thanks for the great article!

    1. It’s interesting! Personally I would prefer an email as it gives me a record of that communication, but all consumers are different.
      Thanks for commenting! Glad you found it useful.

  3. A smart website shows a company is thinking about the user and that in turn build trust from the visitor towards the company. Interesting statistics. I am surprised so many people still pick up the phone and call after viewing a local website.

  4. Some of these numbers are so low, as to be statistically irrelevant. I’m surprised by what you’ve included for stats. I’m also surprised at the repetition of nearly the exact information for each stat group. Yep, I get you’re going for long content. But really guys– who are you writing for? Google or us?

  5. Truly remarkable article, and the graphics are top notch. I love how you guys updated the states since 2014, very useful small business owners to get an idea of the trend.
    I was really surprised about the stat that more people would prefer to email a business rather than fill out the contact form. What if it was a quote form, do you think people would still prefer to call and then email in that order?

  6. I think it’s also important to remember that what people think they want and what actually makes them take a particular action are two very different things. For example, many people will tell you they are not influenced by certain kinds of advertising but the advertisers clearly know otherwise. This is where CRO is so brilliant because the science can tell you what works and what doesn’t. How many web designers and their clients place the highest priority on aesthetics but the CRO guys have the stats to prove that other things are often far more influential in converting visitors.

    The Page Speed example quoted by Cari is a good example of where the user may be unconscious of it and yet their behaviour may be influenced by it.

  7. As for the ‘Most Important Factors’, I vote for the acronym ‘PPOPP’ for Product/service list, Price list, Opening hours, Phone number, and Physical address.

    As for the ‘Least Important Factors’ to consumers, I find it interesting that at least two of them are important for local search engine ranking on Google: Fast website speed and mobile optimized site. Unless a business has very little competition, these factors may not be important to visitors but they might never be a visitor to the site without them!

    As always, a site has to be designed with both the consumer and the search engines in mind.

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