Good news, small business owners: Despite the tempting holiday price cuts and super sales pulling customers into big box retail stores, you might still come out ahead this season.
Through Web.com's second annual Consumer and Small Business Perception Survey, Business News Daily found that consumers are in fact willing to pay a higher price if it means supporting a small business. Forty-eight percent of the 2,036 consumers surveyed said they would "definitely" or "probably" pay extra for a small business, and nearly 40 percent said they would seriously consider it. Of those consumers, more than half said they would pay up to 14 percent extra for a small business product that meets or exceeds their expectations.
David Brown, chairman, CEO and president of Web.com, said that the higher, more personalized level of customer service a small business can provide is a major draw for consumers. [Holiday Shopping 2014: A Guide for Small Businesses]
"The reason consumers like dealing with small businesses is because there's a relationship that can be developed," said Brown, citing trends from previous Web.com surveys. "There's a human connection [that happens] when you do business with someone you can see. Consumers still value that ... face-to-face personal contact, as opposed to big businesses online that you never speak to or meet."
So you know you can win consumers' business, even if your prices are a little higher than those of your larger competitors — but how do you get them in the door? Brown offered the following tips to help small business owners bring customers in for the holiday season and beyond.
Make sure people can find you. Your online presence can make or break you, especially during the holidays. If you don't have top-notch SEO practices and a well-built, mobile-enabled site, you may as well be invisible. But making sure customers can find you goes beyond having a good website. Brown reminded small business owners to list their contact information and location (if applicable) in a highly visible, accessible place.
"Many small businesses don't have [contact details] easily available on their home page," he said. "Make sure customers know you exist and how to reach you."
Run special offers, and not just for the holidays. Based on Web.com survey results, Brown said that consumers factor special offers into their final decision on where to shop. The key to turning holiday shoppers into loyal customers is running promotions year-round.
"What works for big businesses works for small, as well," Brown said. "Tell existing clients [about your offers]. It acts as an accelerant for business."
Stay social. Social media marketing has become a must-have strategy for business of all sizes, but today, you can't get away with simply churning out self-promotional content. You need to really engage with your followers and have meaningful interactions with them on social. Brown noted that connecting with your target audience can help build the genuine relationships that small business customers crave.
"It's all about a personal touch and local connectivity," Brown said. "Let people know what's happening at your store. Social helps [to] capitalize on the natural desire for consumers to see a face and stay connected."
Business News Daily submitted questions to Web.com's 2014 Consumer and Small Business Perception Survey. The resulting exclusive data points were used in this piece. The overall survey was conducted by Toluna Research and surveyed 2,036 consumers and 1,003 small business owners to better understand consumers' relationships and engagement with small businesses. Click hereto view the full survey report.