What is the chief online discovery tool of the Internet Age?
In an online article for SMBs appearing June 1, 2016, the eMarketer said, “Most Small Businesses [are] Discovered Online First.” That is the new preeminent discovery tool of your potential customer.
More specifically the article stated, “More than one-third of US internet users said they first find out about small businesses when researching online…” If that doesn’t pique your interest, what about this statement? “Walking into a local store, meanwhile, was the least likely path to discovery.” That certainly grabbed mine! Online discovery is not the only tool. Those who fail to use their feet? Adventure lost.
Of course, information like this probably falls into that class derisively called, ‘No brainer,” by those who feel they have a handle on all things IT. After all, we all know that this is the age of the Internet where nearly everybody is online. Telephone books and newspapers, magazines and TV, are being antiquated as we speak. Books are tenuously maintaining their presence along with brick-and-mortar businesses. But online discovery is the buzz word that fuels all future speculation.
So. How’s your online presence? And if you are online with a website, have you looked at the metrics to see who’s visiting your site? Are the Millennials finding your business with that great online discovery tool – the Internet? Or anyone else that needs your services? And to press for one more stage of advancement, is your online presence, your website, optimized for mobile? Because in the same way that everybody is online, so also everybody is getting there with their mobile phone. More and more.
Now there is a silver lining to that dreary cloud (and for obscure reasons it does strike one as dreary). While the survey of 2000 internet users reported 36.7% of respondents saying they primarily first find out about small businesses through online discovery, there were 35% of the same group who still relied (first) on word-of-mouth.
Which is really quite remarkable. Evidently, the head-down posture for mobile phone users is occasionally interrupted from time to time for real conversations. Perhaps a question: “Do you know a good restaurant? Or a business that can help me with (insert your industry)?” That’s encouraging! Meanwhile, only 8.4% said they usually (first) found out about such firms by walking into the store.
We all watch in amazement as millions of US consumers with smartphones in hand go forth to conquer. Hesitatingly, I admit, “I am one of them.” But if this trend is growing – and world-wide it is – then there is reason to consider whether your website is one of the 52% of SMBs whose websites are mobile-optimized; or one of the 40% whose websites are not optimized; or one of the remaining 8% who haven’t really given it much thought and so just don’t know.
Sufficiently alarmed at the direction this whole thing is taking, you would obviously pick up your phone and dial 626-461-1300 and ask for help optimizing your website for mobile so it will be an attractive and efficient online discovery tool. Or maybe you would just ask, “What does it mean?” Which is as good a starting point as any and currently very welcome.