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How to Cook Up a Perfectly Fried Landing Page

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 18:13

It’s a terrible day when the truth becomes trite and that’s what has happened with one of the most important truths in marketing: Know your customer.

Ask a marketing guru what’s the most important thing, and the person will say that it’s to “know your customer.” We have heard this so many times that we have stopped “hearing” it.

I want to bring this truth back among the living and I think the way to do that is by example. I want to use an example that puts the need to “know your customer” into perhaps its sharpest focus.

If you’re at all familiar with the culinary world, you may know that some chefs, when auditioning new chefs, will ask them to fry an egg. Frying an egg reduces the craft of cooking to its most essential and basic skills. Any chef who can produce a perfectly fried egg on demand is a worthy hire.

In the world of digital marketing, I think producing the perfect landing page is the equivalent of serving the perfectly fried egg, so we will look at landing page essentials and relate them back to the concept of “knowing your customer.” I’ve written before on these pages about some of the layout basics of landing pages. Here I want to focus more on psychology.

I think you will see how critical it is to be able to get into the mind of your customer when you face head on the challenges of producing the perfectly fried landing page. A great formula for a landing page is to combine four elements: A value proposition, an incentive, a deadline and a call to action.

Your value proposition

Gene Schwartz was one of the best direct mail copywriters of all time. He wrote headlines like:

  • World’s first effortless exerciser
  • How to make 13 ½ percent on your savings or more – All fully insured!
  • Why haven’t TV owners been told these facts?
  • How to eat your way out of fatigue

Look at each of these headlines and try to picture the consumer to which they would appeal. Next, work back from that image and identify where that consumer would find the “value.”

In the first headline, I picture someone who is overweight and – to put it politely – a person who has never enjoyed breaking a sweat. Being able to understand what makes that person tick gave Schwartz the clues he needed to appeal on an emotional or psychological level.

To sum it up: Understand the area in your customer’s psyche where the benefits of your product or service overlap and find emotional language to express or imply the value.

The incentive

Every machine operates best when a little oil is applied. Adding an incentive to your landing page is the oil. Your job is to understand what kind of incentive will strike a chord with your customer.

Sometimes you can toss in a little something extra. There was a time when banks gave away toasters, gas stations gave away free glasses and hamburger restaurants gave away toys with children’s meals – okay, the burger joints still do this; the other premiums are long gone.

However, if your customers are somewhat risk adverse – perhaps you’re the new kid on the block and you need to establish credibility – an unconditional money-back guarantee might be the answer. These virtually always prove to be cost effective ways of drumming up new business.

The deadline

In Popeye cartoons, Wimpy’s famous line was, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” The gag was funny because Wimpy said it all the time and everyone knew that “Tuesday” was no real deadline for payment.

Again, some understanding of how your customers think and relate to your product will help you set the right deadline. The deadline can be a point in time, like “today,” or when some event occurs, such as “The first 15 companies who contact us…” or “Extremely Limited Supply.”

The call to action

There are two elements in the typical digital call to action today, the graphic and the wording. Graphically, it’s critical to make your CTA standout and be obvious that it’s something to be clicked on.

Your CTA button will have a word or short phrase on it and here’s where you need to understand how your customer is thinking. You can come up with some very good wording for your button by completing this phrase “I want to ­­­­­­­____________.”

For example if you’re selling a weight loss program, the phrase “lose weight easily” might work on your button. Give some thought to this. Avoid tired phrases like “Click Here.”

I hope that by discussing these four landing page fundamentals, you begin to have a new, and more focused appreciation for the need to “know your customers” and an improved ability to apply that knowledge.

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Categories: SMB

Dropbox Adds Two New Features. Document Collaboration Easier and Smoother.

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 17:00

Many of us have used Dropbox for years. It works well and is one of the popular ways to share files.

In addition to making it easy to share files, Dropbox is adding some new features that make it much better. These features include:

File requests – With file requests, you can request and receive files from anyone, and they’ll go right into the Dropbox folder you specify. Here’s how it works:

  • Get files from anyone: Anyone can send you a file, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account
  • Easily receive large files: Unlike most email attachments, you can receive files as large as 2 GB
  • Keep your files handy and secure: Submitted files are accessible on all your devices, but just to you — people who send you files can’t see those uploaded by others (unless you choose to share them), and can’t access your Dropbox

The Dropbox badge – The next time you open a Dropbox file in Excel, PowerPoint, or Word on your computer, the Dropbox badge will be waiting for you. It’s a handy tool designed to help you move your project forward, right from inside the file you’re working on. You can:

  • Easily share the file you’re working on
  • Ask for feedback or contributions by commenting on the file
  • View file history to go back in time and find content you’ve already changed or deleted

With these features Dropbox is becoming much more than a file sharing tool, it’s being a collaboration and communication platform.

What platforms do you use? Google Drive? Office 365? Yousend It?

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Categories: SMB

Square Is Going Public. Here’s Why It Matters To Growing Businesses

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 13:00

Square has flied to go public reports the New York Times. Square is best known for it’s “credit card swipe” dongles that attach to smart phones and tables making it easy to accept credit card payments. If you didn’t know it yet, that’s just the beginning. Square needs to make more money and GROW.

What’s Square’s big play? To offer financing options to growing businesses. If you need $10,000 , $50,000 etc, you can get it from Square. Square is competing with PayPal, OnDeck, Fundera and many other companies offering these solutions – include your bank and credit card companies.

Looking for financing? You have lots of ways to get money – make your decisions smart.

 

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Categories: SMB

Shipping Company Uses AT&T Service to Monitor Its Fine Art

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 18:00

 

Technology can be used in the most amazing ways. I just watched a video which shows how a NY area shipping company uses AT&T’s Cargo View and Flight Safe service to monitor its fine art shipments.  No matter what business you are in, there’s always technology you can find which can help you do it better and more efficiently.

Watch the video below or here.

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Categories: SMB

Data Is Nice. Information Is Better. Microsoft Release Analytics Tool for Small Businesses

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 00:04

We business owners are drowning in data – from our financial software, to marketing, to our HR software and more. Seeing and measuring our key performance indicators is not always easy – but it’s an important part of growing and managing our businesses.

Microsoft has recently release a new tool, “Power BI” to give small business owners a fresh way to visualize their data and make better decisions.

According to a Microsoft at Work blog post:

At its core, Power BI is a centralized hub that allows users to easily pull in, visualize and interpret the vast amount of data that their business generates on a daily basis. SMBs use a wide range of tools and services to run the different aspects of their business. By generating unified charts, graphs, maps and statistics, Power BI allows users to spot trends that would be difficult or impossible to identify by looking at an unorganized assortment of different spreadsheets and dashboards.

Check out more details on Microsoft’s blog here.

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Categories: SMB

Intuit Exec Joins Infusionsoft Small Business Marketing Company

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 13:30

While Apple leads in consumer mobile design, Intuit leads in small business accounting software and other solutions.

Like many large companies who’ve been many years in business, there are many former Intuit executives leading other companies. One of these executives, Terry Hicks, has joined small business sales and marketing software company Infusionsoft.

According to Infusionsoft’s press release, Hicks brings deep insight, knowledge, and understanding of small businesses and how to meet their rapidly evolving technology needs.

During his 15 years at Intuit, Hicks served in a variety of general management and product leadership roles in the Small Business Group and Global Business Division. He established from the ground up to the now $600 million payments business, and most recently, prior to joining Infusionsoft, focused on accelerating worldwide customer growth as the vice president and general manager of QuickBooks Online.

Terry’s role at Infusionsoft is pretty big, to lead their global product strategy, including product management, payments and business development and more.

Intuit’s pedigree of being able to adapt, such as their evolution from Quickbooks for the desktop computer to one more focused on Quickbooks Online and creating a variety of “apps” to help small businesses is amazing. It’s not easy to innovate, but Intuit has continued to do so and create great products.

Terry has a big job ahead of him, to accelerate and continue Infusionsofts growth in providing solutions to small businesses.

While Infusionsoft is the leader in small business sales and marketing software, the market is crowded and will continue to get more crowded as more and more established companies and upstarts seek to offer varying degrees of CRM solutions to small businesses.

There’s three things Terry needs to do, to continue to help Infusionsoft succeed, taking a play book from Intuit:

  • Grow and innovate a thriving and improved ecosystem for Infusionsoft, embodied in its marketplace
  • Create software as easy to use and well designed as Quickboks Online
  • Seek and build other growth opportunities, such as payments

 

 

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Categories: SMB

Join the #HPProductivity Chat For Ways to Improve Office Productivity

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 19:31

If there is one area we commonly hear small business wanting to improve, it’s office productivity. They know they may be missing big opportunities to save time and money, but staying ahead of new technologies and processes can be tough. That’s why the team at HP has teamed up with Ramon Ray, Smart Hustle Magazine and Smallbiztechnology and Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends, for an hour long Twitter chat – #HPProductivity –  on how to improve office productivity.

The Twitter chat, which takes place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 1pm ET, will teach small business owners how to enable and improve efficiency in their office. Whether it’s optimizing mobile technologies, taking advantage of the cloud or finding new ways to communicate with team members, they’ll be sharing tons of tips and strategies that will help you save time and money.

They’ll also be looking for participants to share their thoughts and opinions on questions like:

  • What top productivity tips save the most time or money in businesses?
  • What is the incidence of employees using personal computing devices?
  • Can virtual offices be as productive as physical offices (or more)?
  • What printer features help offices the most, etc.?

It’s going to be an interactive hour jam-packed with great tips, tools and techniques to help you start saving time and money…RIGHT AWAY!

Here are the details again so you don’t miss joining this event:

Who:  @HP_SmallBiz, Ramon Ray @RamonRay, Anita Campbell @smallbiztrends

What: Enabling Small Business Efficiencies: How to Improve Your Office Productivity

When:  Tuesday, July 21, 2015 – 1 p.m. EDT

Where: On Twitter under the hashtag #HPProductivity

We hope to “see” you on the 21st! Get your questions ready!!

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Categories: SMB

How Dropbox Integration with Microsoft Affects Your Business

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 18:06

Dropbox has become a top collaboration tool for many companies. It allows businesses to share files that are too big to send through email, as well as storing files for access from any device. But the Dropbox integration with Microsoft has taken the app to a new level, helping professionals not only access their documents but work with them whether they’re in the office or on the road.

The integration effort is just the latest example of how Microsoft is becoming more open under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella. Even though Microsoft offers storage services that compete with Dropbox’s, thanks to Nadella’s vision, the company sees the many benefits of partnering up with one of the top collaboration tools used in business today. Here are a few things business owners should know about the Microsoft-Dropbox partnership.

What This Means for Microsoft and Dropbox

Before taking over as CEO of Microsoft in early 2014, Nadella served as the company’s corporate vice president for business solutions. As far back as 2006, Nadella was expressing the importance of integrating desktop and online solutions. Microsoft is surrounded by companies that are using the cloud to meet businesses’ everyday needs and by having a visionary like Nadella in place, the company has been able to compete with forward-thinking companies like Google. In fact, one Forbes contributor recently speculated that Microsoft is now the innovator, while Google has taken Microsoft’s place as being behind the times. By partnering with Dropbox, Microsoft can leverage the heavy user bases of both software platforms for the benefit of both.

Although Dropbox has only been around since 2008, the company has quickly become a leader in cloud file storage. In addition to Microsoft, it recently announced an alliance with accounting software company Xero. Although Dropbox already has 400 million users, these partnerships are aimed at improving the user experience, as well as potentially drawing new users to its platform.

What This Means for Your Business

Through the Microsoft-Dropbox partnership, businesses can enjoy an improved ease of use, including the ability to:

  • Edit Word documents on a mobile device or in a web browser, with changes automatically synced across all devices.
  • Send Dropbox links to Office documents through email.
  • Collaborate on documents in real time.
  • Be notified when others are viewing or editing a document while logged into that document.
  • Leave comments for others within Dropbox.
  • Integrate with apps like Smartsheet for collaboration on Excel documents.

By integrating, both Dropbox and Microsoft are creating a more seamless user experience, where employees can move seamlessly between mobile devices and PCs. These changes will make it easier for professionals to collaborate and communicate even when team members are on the other side of the country.

Microsoft is growing its community to include more solutions than ever. In doing so, the company is improving its own cloud solutions in the hopes of continuing to remain at the top of its field. This is to the benefit of end users, who will now be able to edit and view documents from anywhere, using the devices they have with them.

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Categories: SMB

10 WordPress Plugins Designed for Small Businesses

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 14:57
What is your favorite WP plugin, and why is this an absolutely necessary feature for your business?

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. iThemes Security

iThemes Security is a plugin that my company uses on our own site, and I recommend that all of our clients use it as well. Website security is something that cannot be overlooked by anyone, and this plugin has great features. It’s also easy to set up and manage, even for a business owner with little to no technical knowledge. The free version provides a lot of great security benefits.

– Jonathan LongMarket Domination Media

2. W3 Total Cache

Site speed is absolutely critical from a conversion standpoint as well as for SEO purposes and improved rankings. We have seen with Amazon how one second could cost them $1.6 billion in sales, but even for much smaller companies we’re talking about the difference between a visitor staying or leaving. W3 Total Cache is installed on all of our sites and it dramatically increases load speed.

– Alex Miller, PosiRank LLC

3. Akismet

We can’t live without the anti-spam Akismet plugin at SheTakesOnTheWorld.com since we produce so much content and always have comments enabled for our readers. Akismet protects you from the inevitable spam comments that pour in when you have a highly visible site, so you only see the comments that really matter. This saves so much time for our team.

– Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World

4. EditFlow

EditFlow is a fantastic plugin to manage multiple authors, editorial calendars, deadlines, etc. It makes the management of a multi-author blog seamless and significantly more streamlined. Instead of using a variety of tools, we use EditFlow to create and follow a content strategy, without dropping deadlines. We complement this with Podio to track the status of each article.

– Marcela DeVivoNational Debt Relief

5. Yoast

While there are hundreds of WP plugins, the one that has helped clients the most to ensure their blogs meet the credentials of good SEO is Yoast. Using this little section, blogs get a green light when they are good to go. It takes the brains out of guessing if you’ve done it correctly.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

6. SumoMe

I’ve been loving SumoMe recently. It’s super easy to set up and gives you a variety of plugins to add to your site. They have tools for sharing, list building and analytics. They all take seconds to implement and are very high quality.

– Ben LangMapme

7. Leadin

For the non-techie WP user, I always recommend Leadin. Leadin enables a site owner to start gathering useful data on the activity of their site visitors and it has some nice lead capture functions. It perfectly rides the line of being powerful enough for basic needs while still being very easy to install and friendly to use.

– Christie KernerLaunch MiE

8. Migrate DB Pro

Migrate DB Pro makes copying the database and images/media files between sites (either from staging to production or migrating to different servers) a breeze. It also automatically updates the site URL when transferring over posts and data. We constantly use it on WordPress projects at Spartan.

– Jesse MorrisSpartan

9. HTTPS Redirection

Google, your visitors, your investors and your partners now look at your site’s address bar with far more scrutiny. It’s become an expectation that your site runs using SSL, that’s the “https://” part of the URL. More than ever, visitors will stop a transaction with you if they feel insecure. The Easy HTTPS Redirection plugin makes this pretty easy. Just install and configure a few fields to get SSL rolling.

– Brian FrittonPatch of Land

10. ShareThis

ShareThis is a social sharing plugin that embeds easy Facebook and other social media share buttons on a WP website. It has a variety of layouts and options to choose from, and takes away the need for a developer to manipulate the embeds. For example, if you do not want to show the number of shares on a particular post or if you want the buttons to be left aligned, ShareThis has settings and options for that.

– Pratham MittalVenturePact

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Categories: SMB

9 SaaS Products Perfect for Business-Based Voice Communications

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 15:13
What’s one SaaS product that your business can’t live without for your voice communication needs and what makes it so important to your business?

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Ring Central

We use Ring Central because it eliminates the need for an on-premise PBX in order to have a complete enterprise phone system. The cloud gives the same capability at a fraction of the cost. The mobility it offers is excellent: we can literally take our entire phone system out of the office, forwarding calls to our mobile devices and monitoring all activity through the app.

– Jonathan LongMarket Domination Media

2. TollFreeForwarding

Using a virtual PBX phone system and TollFreeForwarding has allowed us to expand our business considerably. By establishing local and toll-free numbers in a variety of countries, we can market to international audiences and serve them in their own language. Even though all of the phone lines forward to our US offices, each line has a native speaker who is able to help individuals in a variety of countries.

– Marcela DeVivoNational Debt Relief

3. Grasshopper

We use Grasshopper because it protects the personal phone numbers of our employees who answer phones and reach out to customers. It’s also easily integrated into a voice command system where the employees using the system are only one click away from connecting with customers and vice versa. I’ve always used it and have never had any complaints about their user interface.

– Rob FultonAudioLumin™

4. Google Hangouts

We are fans of Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts are the easiest way to quickly voice and video chat with one or more people both within or external to the organization. Powerful tools like the ability to host live hangouts — which stream to YouTube and directly ring phone numbers into a conference — make it even more versatile. Best of all, it’s free.

– Nanxi LiuEnplug

5. Sqwiggle

Swiggle is great for remote teams as not only can you communicate with the rest of your team, you can easily engage with them throughout the work day. They have an innovative product with click-to-talk and instant video. This allows you to stay in close contact with your team and build a strong remote culture.

– Randy RayessVenturePact

6. HipChat

We utilize HipChat as a company. It keeps everyone connected so even our remote workers feel like they’re not missing out on anything. If we didn’t have HipChat, we would be less productive because we would have to halt projects to set up a meeting in order to ask simple questions or solve quick problems.

– Chad HalvorsonWhen I Work

7. CallRail

CallRail is a call center in the cloud tool that not only helps provide a professional customer experience, but also allows us to use detailed call based analytics. We like it because we can now track the specific origin of our leads down to a landing page or even a campaign. We can integrate it with our CRM and even make automatic calls to leads as soon as they fill out a form.

– Pratham MittalVenturePact

8. Skype

Our staff is based remotely around the world, and Skype wins for its universality. Everyone knows it and knows how to use it. It’s cost effective for our business, and our clients prefer using it to some of the newer voice communication SaaS products. We use it for company and team-wide chats, voice and for transferring small files. We haven’t needed to look elsewhere for communication tools.

– Jared BrownHubstaff

9. Switch

Switch is a virtual phone system made by the same guy that invented Google Voice and UberConference. Switch has a simple and clean user interface, as well as all of the features and functionality that you hope for in a modern phone system. It never ceases to amaze me how far telecom has lagged behind in terms of features and functionality. Switch gives me hope!

– Danny BoiceTrustify

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Categories: SMB

Using a CRM to Connect Your Marketing Dots [Video]

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 14:53

 

I recently had the opportunity to appear on the Plus Your Business show, hosted by Google+ expert Martin Shervington to talk about the importance of small business marketing and technology tools that every small business can use, specifically CRM systems.

During the fun-filled and informative 30-minute conversation, Martin and I covered many topics relevant to today’s small business, but most importantly who crucial it is for them to ‘connect the dots’ in their marketing – or in other words the process of guiding the user through the online journey of becoming a website visitor to becoming a customer to becoming a lifetime user and advocate.

We also talked about the importance of personalization in today’s marketing and how a good CRM system can help even the smallest of businesses level the playing field and advantage that many big businesses, like Amazon, have. While big companies have bigger budgets and more access to platforms that allow custom personalization, small businesses have options as well. Infusionsoft, along with other CRM products designed for small business, allow automation and personalization for businesses to help drive people from interest to the ‘sale’ and then to turn them into a life long customer that refers business to you. If used correctly, and often with the help of consultants, small businesses can level the playing field by embracing and utilizing the technology to it’s full capability.

I also shared with Martin two of the coolest things I’ve seen happening in small business lately, including a cool new tool for designing graphics called Canva. Check out the full interview here:

As part of the conversation, Martin shares the following five Plus Your Business Academy tips:

  1. Are you looking outwards? Are you focused on sharing other peoples content? Reach out, share and start to build relationships!
  2. Do you have a ‘why’? Why do you do what you do? What’s the purpose of your actions. Make sure you know exactly what you’why’ is!
  3. Are you making cross platform connections? By following and engaging with people on multiple platforms you increase the complexity of the relationship. It’s a powerful way of embedding the relationship in someones mind.
  4. Do you have daily / weekly processes in place? This includes a newsletter, blog posts, email messages. Are you doing the work needed to be relevant in in front of people? And, are you constantly evaluating the effectiveness of your efforts.
  5. Who will you help next? Being a part of the community includes reaching out to help others.

This was a great interview jam packed with great tips and strategies for small business. Let me know in the comments below if you are using a CRM, what the biggest advantage you’ve experienced using one and your biggest tip for other small businesses moving into a CRM.

 

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Categories: SMB

Yodle Survey Reveals What Local Business Customers Really Want

Fri, 07/03/2015 - 18:02

Running a local business is unique in that every day you get real, genuine opportunities to connect with your customers. You know their names, you may even know what they’re going to order before they say it – but do you really know what they want? A recent Yodle survey gives us new insights on what your local business customers really want from you.

Yodle is a marketing platform for local businesses, offering assistance with websites, local search, customer reviews, email marketing and social media for over 50,000 local businesses. They conducted a survey of over 6,000 consumers in April, 2015 titled, “Yodle Insights: What Consumers Want from Local Business,” in order to find out what local business customers want – and therefore how local businesses can answer those needs to grow their businesses and accumulate more loyal customers.

So what do local business customers want? Some of the survey’s key findings reveal that:

  • Customers want to connect with you online.

When asked what changes they would like to see local businesses make, the top response was website improvements, including adding features such as online booking and payments. They are also ready for you to up your communication game. Respondents say they are open to more communication than local businesses are currently offering, such as service/appointment reminders and advice/tips.

  • Customers want more deals and offers.

Over half of the respondents in the survey say that special offers set local businesses apart from the competition. They would love to see local businesses provide more special offers, especially those that reward their loyalty.

  • Customers want online reviews.

Online reviews aren’t only desired – 40% of respondents say that online reviews are expected. Three-quarters (75%) of customers go online to research a business before they make a choice, and reviews are a powerful tool that can help your local business stand out. If you don’t have many online reviews right now, maybe you should start asking. The study found that the majority of customers (89%) are willing to write a review after a positive experience with a local business, but only 7% have ever been asked to do so.

  • Customers want you to embrace your differences from national chains.

Are you still trying to compete with national chains on pricing? The survey suggests that local businesses can do better if they compete on quality and service, not on price. 77 percent of respondents say that national chains offer better pricing; however, local businesses win out on a number of other important factors including personalizing service (96%), being trustworthy (91%), overall customer service (88%), quality (86%), reliability (79%) and quality of staff (75%). Although pricing does matter, many customers say they are willing to pay more because of these benefits of choosing local businesses.

One final trend from the survey – customers are using and loving their local businesses. 82 percent of consumers have used a local business in the last year, and 48% intend to use local businesses even more in the next 12 months. Local businesses are doing excellent in today’s economy, and now you can use the results of this survey to make important improvements that give you an even greater edge on the competition.

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Categories: SMB