Small companies effective online. 1

Last summer we carried out some research for Yell. Here is Yell’s own press release summary of some of the findings. From European Association of Directory and Database Publishers – original post here.

“Yell research: David beats Goliath online as consumers favour smaller firms  – Fri, 09/12/2011 – 13:28. Member news

Competing online is enabling small businesses to outmanoeuvre larger players, according to groundbreaking new research from Yell and the University of Southampton. In a unique series of in-depth, blind focus groups, more than 200 consumers were asked to compare websites of smaller and larger competitor firms, without knowing which was the bigger enterprise. Consumers were frequently unable to tell which was bigger — and consistently plumped for the smaller firm when asked to select their preferred provider.

David Trumps Goliath

Despite the huge sums large companies spend developing and optimising their websites, smaller businesses came out on top in the majority of focus groups.

In a series of ‘head-to-head’ comparisons, more respondents chose the smaller firm as their preferred supplier in almost two thirds (64%) of focus groups. The larger player won out in only a fifth (21%) of experiments.

Even when votes were calculated on an individual participant basis, the majority of people (51%) chose the smaller business, compared to only a third (36%) who opted for the larger firm.

Richard Hanscott, CEO, Yell UK, comments: “Our unique research illustrates how digital marketing has torn down the traditional barriers to promotion, allowing small businesses to compete with larger players like never before.

“No matter what the industry, investing time in an effective digital presence will open your business up to a wider market and help attract new customers.”

Sizing It Up

Yell’s experiment demonstrates how the online space has blurred perceptions of company size and made scale unimportant to consumers.

When asked which they thought was the larger concern, almost two fifths of participants (37%) were unable to tell.

In addition, only a quarter of consumers (25%) rated company size as an important influence when looking for products and services.

Keep It Real

Yell’s research also evaluated what makes consumers trust potential suppliers online, finding that authenticity, simplicity and proximity are the traits that win consumers’ confidence.

– Authenticity

When looking online for a supplier, the vast majority of consumers look for a sense of the people behind the business (71%).

A prominently displayed address or location (78%) and phone number (77%) are also highly important influencers, as customers seek reassurance of an authentic, human presence behind the business.

– Simplicity

Even more (81%) cite easy-to-find information as very important to making a purchasing decision. Easy-to-read descriptions (75%) and a simple approach (66%) also scored highly.

– Proximity

Close to half of consumers (43%) place high importance on a business being local to them.

Richard Hanscott comments: “Contrary to perceived wisdom, consumers are not reassured by dealing with a large firm or brand online. In fact, the opposite is the case.

“The factors driving consumers’ online behaviour offer a unique advantage to SMEs over their larger competitors. Customers are influenced by trust in the company, ease of access to information and locality.

“This presents a clear opportunity for smaller firms to give themselves a competitive edge via their online presence, by presenting the human face of the business and promoting their ability to deliver a more personal service.”

The Power of Reviews

In terms of social media, consumers placed the highest importance on positive reviews and recommendations — a significant influence for almost two thirds (64%) of consumers. In contrast, a Facebook (31%) or Twitter (28%) presence is vital to less than a third of consumers.”


Over the next couple of posts we’ll unpack some of the findings for you in more detail

One comment on “Small companies effective online.

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