Think referrals and word of mouth are the most crucial element of driving new customers? Think again.

Your business’s online presence - your website, online reputation, social media, reviews, and online search appearance - is the new king of sales driving activity.

A new study of American consumers discovered that "online presence is neck-and-neck with word-of-mouth" in terms of how consumers discover small businesses for the first time.

The study found that nearly one-third of respondents will hire or buy from a small business because of a recommendation from a friend or family member; and nearly 37% of people say they discover local shops and service providers through online search.

So, what does this mean?

As a client of High Level Marketing, you’re in good shape.  Your business has a professional looking website that ranks well in search.  And that’s one of the most important elements of a strong online presence.

Because, what other studies suggest is that simply having a website isn’t enough.

According to a study performed by Washington D.C. market research firm, Clutch, having an outdated or poorly designed website is worse than not having a website at all.

"A shoddy or antiquated online presence is actually worse than no online presence at all," cautioned Bowen. Nearly half of the people polled said they were unlikely to shop at a business with an unprofessional or poorly-designed website. Their reasoning: they fear it reflects the quality of the service and products that they can expect.

Today, a polished website looks and works well on mobile browsers. As small business owners weigh their options, they need to think beyond desktop browsers and seek out providers of mobile-optimized and responsive website services, suggested Bowen. "Pinch-and-zoom was a novelty years ago, but it's not a thing [anymore]."

 

This study reaffirms what we have felt for a long time now.  

A business has just a few seconds to make a first impression online.  With proper website design and search engine optimization, you can ensure that the impression is always a positive, lasting one.

If you're a small business owner without a website, or your website needs a redesign, we can help.  We've helped over 1200 small business owners with their business website, online presence, and lead generation.  Click here for a free quote.

29 Business Lesson from 29 Small Business Owners