BrightLocal’s annual consumer survey was recently released, which focused on what consumers are looking for in local business websites. The survey was aimed at exploring both the information consumers expect and want (and don’t want) to be included on a local site, and how they react to local business websites in general. Additionally, the survey revealed those factors that are most likely to influence (or deter) consumers and ultimately draw them to spend money at that business.
What makes this survey especially helpful to small business owners is the way the data was broken down both by gender and age group. A solid understanding of this data will improve the way local business interact digitally with their targeted demographics.
A panel of 800 consumers was used for this survey, with all participants based in the United States but of mixed aged and gender. The age breakdown was comprised of 44% 18 to 34 year olds, 34% 35 to 54 year olds, and 22% 55+. Of those surveyed, 56% were female and 44% male. Here are the main takeaways by subject and age/gender demographics.
Customer Attitudes toward Local Business Websites
- (18 to 34): Younger consumers expect every local business to have a website and that it look professional, and this is a major determinant in whether they buy from that business.
- (35 to 54): Although this consumer group is more forgiving about a lack of a website, they are still more likely to do contact those businesses with active sites. Interestingly, this group is the least likely to be put off by an ugly or sloppy website.
- (55+): Not surprisingly, this group is much less concerned about the presence of a website or what it looks like. However, they do think a smart website gives a business credibility in the community.
- Female consumers are more likely to contact a local business with a website and link that site with business credibility. They are more expectant about a site being active but are less judgmental by less-than-polished sites.
- Male consumers report the same opinions regarding websites as females, except that they are less expectant about a business having a site but react more negatively to ugly or unprofessional sites.
Key Information on a Local Business Website
Across all age groups, consumers want websites to provide a product/service list, price list, store hours, phone number, and physical address. However, there are some differences across groups.
- (18 to 34): Younger consumers prioritize both the appearance of the website and whether it is mobile optimized.
- (35 to 54): This group also cares about appearance and mobile optimization, but their biggest focus is on the ability to procure key information about a business from its website.
- (55+): The biggest priority for this age group is getting core information from the site, particularly product lists, phone numbers, and physical addresses. They also want fast website performance.
On local business websites, male and female consumers are looking for product and price lists, and a phone number.
- Men also want the website to be good-looking (more so than females), and look for supplementary information like images, accreditations, and an updated blog.
- Female consumers value product lists and store hours more than men and are less concerned about supplementary information.
Driving Website Factors That Attract Consumers
Practical data is most persuasive in converting browsers to customers across all age groups.
- (18 to 34): Younger consumers are in addition attracted to a good-looking website with clear photos.
- (35 to 54): This group is most influenced by details about a business and business proximity (but not as much as older consumers).
- (55+): For this group, determining factors include business proximity, business details, and clear and easy-to-find contact info. Interestingly, add-ons like website videos and social media connections are almost irrelevant to this consumer group.
Both genders agree that business details, proximity, and clear address/contact details are key.
- Female consumers are much more influenced by proximity than their male counterparts. They also put more trust in online reviews.
- To males, things like business proximity and testimonials aren’t as important, but they could be persuaded by fast website speed.
Common Website Issues That Deter Consumers
Although there are major differences across age groups in this category, all can agree that poor quality content, a missing phone number, and failure to display prices will stop them from wanting to use a local business.
- (18 to 34): For younger consumers, a slow or buggy or low functioning website is a huge deterrent. They are also less likely to use a business if its website isn’t mobile friendly.
- (35 to 54): While this age group is more forgiving than others about websites in general, they will ultimately be harsher on a website/business than younger consumers if it doesn’t meet their requirements.
- (55+): This group is the most deterred by poor quality content, including misspellings and minute details.
Again, across both genders a website not displaying a phone number or including product prices is most off-putting.
- For females, poor quality content is the number-one deterrent that stops them from using a local business (to a much larger extent than males).
- Males are more discouraged when the site doesn’t provide a phone number, product prices, or map/address details.
How Consumers Prefer to Contact a Local Business
Across age groups, the preferred method of contact is via telephone.
- (18 to 34): This is the most likely group to contact a business via social media and also like sending e-mails. However, they are the least likely to visit that business in person.
- (35 to 54): This group favors both telephone and e-mail contact. In addition, they are most likely to use a “request a call back” feature.
- (55+): This is the age group most in favor of visiting the store to do business, although they also favor telephone contact. Not surprisingly, there is minimal interest in social media interactions.
Telephone contact is the preferred method of contact across both groups.
- Female consumers prefer telephone contact more than males, but they are also more open to e-mailing or using contact forms.
- After the telephone, male consumers prefer visiting the actual store over sending an e-mail. They also favor “request a call back” features.