Click here to close now.


News Feed Item

New Survey Shows Small Businesses Only Focusing on Half the Digital Equation

For small businesses (SMBs), “word of mouth” promotion has been a time-tested way to reach new customers and generate awareness. But with the growing array of digital and social media options, SMBs can now look beyond one-on-one in-person engagement to capture this critical advocacy from online audiences. However, a new, independent survey has found that SMB owners are spending only a minimum amount of time building and managing their online presence, potentially leaving them unable to cash-in on the online buzz generated by their products and services.

Commissioned by Deluxe Corp. (NYSE:DLX), a leading provider of marketing services and business products for small businesses and financial institutions, the study surveyed more than 500 small business owners (SBOs) around the U.S., in tandem with Small Business Week (May 12 – 16). The results showed that 66 percent of the respondents had a dedicated business website and 45 percent had a Facebook page. Still, while 73 percent of those surveyed thought “word of mouth” was an important way to engage customers, 70 percent spent less than one hour per week maintaining their online presence and 51 percent posted to social media only once a month or less.

“Our close relationship with the small business community has shown that most owners already do a great job being ‘buzz worthy’ by offering remarkable products and delivering excellent customer service,” said Tim Carroll, vice president of small business engagement at Deluxe. “What they are not always doing is preparing for when buzz about them actually happens. Most customers, after hearing about a business through word of mouth, will search for it online, visit its website, look at its social media pages and read reviews about it. Those small businesses with a strong and well maintained online presence can capture this behavior and convert it into lasting relationships.”

Additional highlights from the study include:

  • Age drives online presence: Fifty-seven percent of SBOs under 55 had a business Facebook page, compared to 41 percent for SBOs over 55. Social media was more important to SBOs under 55 (41 vs. 23 percent for SBOs over 55), and SBOs under 55 posted more weekly social media posts then their over 55 counterparts (17 vs. 9 percent).
  • Utilizing social media: For direct customer interaction and promoting new products, only 29 percent of those surveyed found social media extremely important.
  • Using Facebook to sell: Fifty-three percent of small business owners reported that they used Facebook to sell a product. Of these, women were more likely than men (60 vs. 49 percent) to use Facebook as a selling platform.
  • Website improvement: The most common sources for website improvement included “a colleague or other business contact” (45%), “a consultant” (39%), or “a friend/family member” (31%). However, 53 percent of small businesses with more than three employees and 49 percent of companies with revenue below $100,000 had no interest in improving their web presence.

According to Carroll, there are different ways small business owners can give their online presence a boost in order to increase visibility, generate interest and capture any buzz.

  • Encourage customers to talk about you. Whether by providing reviews and feedback or by sharing and following your business on social media, this type of direct customer engagement can be extremely helpful. Small businesses not asking for customer feedback are missing an opportunity to use the channel as an extension of “word of mouth.”
  • Capture email addresses and engage fans. Target customers want to know about your business. They want to know what is new, what is on sale, and what promotions are on the horizon. There are multiple tools that allow small businesses to easily capture these customers’ email addresses and create timely and engaging communications to keep them coming back.
  • To sustain buzz, a website needs to be findable. When potential customers search for you, they expect to find you on the first page of search results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential to make sure your website and content will land you on page one.
  • Think of your online presence as a group of dedicated employees. They may not be physically there, but your online capabilities are working hard for you 24/7 and 365 days a year. And like a workforce, they need to be looked after and maintained. A website or social media channel that is not updated regularly can give the wrong impression to a prospective customer and send their business to a competitor.

“It can take just one day – one influential person to notice – to make a small business a hit, so make sure your online presence is ready to go,” said Carroll. “Still, we understand that small business owners didn’t go into business to focus on digital marketing. That’s why Deluxe works so closely with small business owners to help them perfect their digital footprint – so they can focus on the parts of their business that they really love to do.”

The SMB “online engagement” survey is part of Deluxe’s commitment to supporting America’s small businesses. The company’s goal is to place its product and service expertise at SMB owners’ command, allowing them to pursue their passions.

The online study was fielded in April 2014, and completed by 506 small business owners recruited from Research Now’s US Small Business Owners panel. The panel contains about 3 million subjects, utilizes normalized sampling, and is weighted to reflect the population. Research Now’s “By-invitation-only” recruitment uses various partners in an effort to build a national representation of age, income, gender and region.

About Deluxe Corporation
Deluxe is a growth engine for small businesses and financial institutions. More than 4.5 million small business customers access Deluxe's wide range of products and services, including customized checks and forms, as well as website development and hosting, email marketing, search engine optimization and logo design. For our 5,500 financial institution customers, Deluxe offers industry-leading programs in checks, customer acquisition, fraud prevention and profitability. Deluxe is also a leading provider of checks and accessories sold directly to consumers. For more information, visit us at, or

More Stories By Business Wire

Copyright © 2009 Business Wire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Business Wire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Business Wire. Business Wire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends an...
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. Migration to cloud shifts computing resources from your data center, which can yield significant advantages provided that the cloud vendor an offer enterprise-grade quality for your application.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driv...
Achim Weiss is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of ProfitBricks. In 1995, he broke off his studies to co-found the web hosting company "Schlund+Partner." The company "Schlund+Partner" later became the 1&1 web hosting product line. From 1995 to 2008, he was the technical director for several important projects: the largest web hosting platform in the world, the second largest DSL platform, a video on-demand delivery network, the largest eMail backend in Europe, and a universal billing syste...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
The web app is agile. The REST API is agile. The testing and planning are agile. But alas, data infrastructures certainly are not. Once an application matures, changing the shape or indexing scheme of data often forces at best a top down planning exercise and at worst includes schema changes that force downtime. The time has come for a new approach that fundamentally advances the agility of distributed data infrastructures. Come learn about a new solution to the problems faced by software organ...
Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist for the Western US at Red Hat, has over 20 years of experience in IT and Software. Since joining Red Hat in 2005, he has been architecting solutions for strategic customers and partners with a focus on emerging technologies including IaaS, PaaS, and DevOps. He started his career at Intel in IT and Managed Hosting followed by leadership roles in services and sales engineering at Loudcloud and Linux startups.
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line lo...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction of desired change. Renowned for its approach to leadership and emphasis on their people, organizations increasingly look to our military for insight into these challenges.
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.