YP Study Shows That Complete, Consistent Presence Critical to SMBs

The Why Before The Buy, research, research study, online presence, consistent presence, small business, local business, SMB, data, insights, LSA Insider, LSA, Local Search Association, Greg Sterling, YP
Oct
25
2016

Originally published by Greg Sterling on the LSA Insider on October 20, 2016.

A newly published study conducted by LSA research partner Thrive Analytics on behalf of YP offers a range of interesting findings about the customer journey. Among them, it underscores how critical it is for local businesses (or brands for that matter) to have a robust and consistent presence across channels and platforms.

The survey of more than 5,000 US consumers conducted earlier this year affirmed that consumers are using multiple devices and information sources to make purchase decisions. On average, consumers report using roughly 3 sources to make their buying decisions — the number varied by shopping category, however:

“Over half of all consumers (64%) consulted two or more sources of information with some using – as many as – 13 sources. The average number of sources of information used was 2.9. Automotive Services and Entertainment had the least number of sources used, with an average of 2.3 and 2.4, respectively. Moving and Storage Services had the most number of sources used with an average of 3.6.”

In addition, the emphasis on specific sources varied by category. For example, reviews and testimonials were relied upon more heavily in home services and healthcare than they were in legal/financial services or automotive services. Search engines were more widely used in entertainment and moving & storage than they were in personal care or pet care.

Mobile Device Usage by Number of Information Sources Used

Why Before Buy Purchase Path

The study found that 57% of consumers used mobile devices as part of the path to purchase. But the number went up to 70% in many product and service categories. Consumers that used more information sources also tended to be more likely to utilize mobile devices in their shopping. The chart above shows that among those consumers using more than 5 information sources, 75% used mobile devices.

What’s also very interesting about the study is the reliance on “primary” and “secondary” sources of information by consumers. The report describes primary information as follows:

“[C]ritical types of information like pricing, the availability of the product or service, the location of the business, and the availability of customer service, helps consumers know the basics about the businesses offering the product or service they need.”

For 52% of consumers, this was all the information they needed. However, in higher consideration categories, secondary information played a critical and determinative role:

“Secondary information is a driver for more complex shopping. Secondary information provides more context around the product or service. It includes testimonials, coupons or deals, information about the business, and photos or videos of the product or service. These pieces of information satisfy additional questions/needs that consumers may have.”

Almost half (48%) of consumers in these situations relied on secondary information to make buying decisions. These were typically larger spend categories as well. Indeed, there appears to be a significant opportunity cost for local businesses that don’t offer these types of information.

Accordingly, the report identified what types of missing or inaccurate information will disqualify a business from consideration in the consumer mind:

Top Reasons Consumers Will Not Consider a Business for a Product or Service

YP disqualifying factors

Here are the variables or factors that are deal-killers for consumers:

  • High prices: 62%
  • Negative reviews: 55%
  • Inconsistent or inaccurate website information: 37%
  • Bad contact information: 32%
  • No website (30%) or poor website experience (26%)
  • No reviews: 27%
  • No photos or video: 27%

This and other data in the report show the value and importance of having complete profiles in all the places that consumers will look for information to make a buying decision: Google, Yelp, Facebook, mapping and many verticals and directories, and so on. SMB websites must also have a range of information supportive of consumer buying considerations, as indicated.

According to some sources, more than 50% of SMBs don’t have a website (hard for me to accept at this point) while most American adults use the internet to find local business information. Local businesses and brands must meet consumer expectations with content and functionality — at each point along the purchase path.

Failure to do so will result in lost opportunities.

 

Header Photo Courtesy of: LSA Insider

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