Survey of 800 consumers says small businesses lacking a Web presence impacts consumer confidence


Survey findings provide guidance for how small businesses can best use technology to attract and keep customers

May 2016 | NY

To help small businesses find better ways to engage and connect with consumers, Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC), the business services division of New York City-based Time Warner Cable, today announced findings from its Small Business Technology Impact Study, coinciding with the start of National Small Business Week, sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Small Business Technology Impact Study, conducted for TWCBC in February 2016, looked broadly at consumers' attitudes and sentiments about how they visit, shop, and choose small businesses. The key findings highlighted below center on preferred digital touchpoints and communication, how gender and generational differences contrast around these preferences, and other technologies, such as mobile payment and cybersecurity.

"It's no secret that small business owners are hungry to get a prospect's attention, while keeping their current customers coming back for more," said Maureen Link, Group Vice President, Small Business, Time Warner Cable Business Class. "Our recent survey findings can help empower small business owners to rethink their strategies and start thinking critically about how they invest in technology and gain more customers. For example, in many cases no online connection means no customers: one out of two consumers surveyed said they avoid small businesses without websites or social monitoring."

An online presence is indispensable for today's small business

A website remains essential for small businesses and consumers expect it from them, more so than on-air advertising, loyalty programs or even a Facebook page. While clear, pertinent product information and pricing is a must, consumers want to find a personalized story about the owner or a compelling history of the company. An active social media presence is similarly a critical part of a small business' engagement strategy, especially if the customer base tends to be female.

  • On the Web
    • Across industries, more consumers may not shop at small businesses who don't have a website (36%) than those who don't have a loyalty program (20%) and don't advertise on TV/Cable or radio (12%).
    • If you're choosing between setting up a website and starting a Facebook page for your business, set up the website. Up to 50% of consumers surveyed (depending on vertical) say they might not buy from a company without a website.
    • Consider using your website to share your story. 93% of consumers surveyed said that knowing the owner helped attract and retain them as customers. Additionally, 70% of those surveyed said that sharing the owner's photo along with a story about their business on the website is effective.
    • 56% of those surveyed feel a website with relevant business information is the most important necessity for a small business.


Don't want to manage a social media presence? Monitoring and responding to review sites is critical or you could lose customers.

  • Social Media Engagement
    • Monitor review sites or you could lose customers: nearly 1 in 5 consumers surveyed won't frequent small businesses who don't respond to comments on Yelp or other review sites.
    • If you're choosing between setting up a website and starting a Facebook page for your business, know that up to 30% might not buy from a company without a social media presence.
    • If most of your customers are women then make sure you have a social presence: over 46% of women say that regularly posting on Facebook is very effective at attracting or keeping them as a customer, compared to only 32% of men.
    • 50% of 18-34 year olds, 42% of 35-54 year olds, and 24% of 55+ year olds prefer businesses who regularly post to their Facebook pages.


"Building that strong relationship with your customers starts before they enter your place of business and continues after they leave," said Link, "and you're losing customers every day that you don't build an online presence for your business."

Age isn't everything, but it should influence how you serve and speak to your customers

Millennials are more interested in getting to know the small business owner than their older counterparts. 73% of 18-34 year olds, versus 63% of those aged 55+, say that including the owner's photo along with a story about their business on their website is a very or somewhat effective way to attract and retain them as a customer.

Mobile options, including bill payment, is another technology small businesses may wish to consider adopting to attract and serve millennials. "Are you targeting millennials? More and more in that generation expect you to be mobile-friendly: 27% of millennial shoppers say it's necessary to take payments via a mobile device, such as a tablet or smart phone, compared to only 19% of 35-55 year olds." said Link.

  • Millennials + Mobile
    • 27% of 18-34 year olds, 19% of 35-54 year olds, and 14% of 55+ year olds prefer a small business that has the ability to take and process payments via a mobile device.
    • 23% of 18-34 year olds, 18% of 35-54 year olds, and 10% of 55+ year olds prefer a small business that has a mobile app for discount offers/orders/appointments.


Protecting customer data is the top concern and critical to customer retention

Along with a digital presence comes the responsibility for ensuring data security, made more challenging in the online environment. "Small business owners might not be thinking about cybersecurity, but their customers are. The fastest and easiest way to lose customers is to not keep their personal data secure," added Link.

  • Security of Data
    • 79% of consumers surveyed say it’s necessary for small businesses to take measures to keep customers’ personal and financial data secure; that’s more than 20% higher than the next highest "necessity."


***To coincide with National Small Business Week, on Thursday May 5, at 2:00 pm ET, Time Warner Cable Business Class will host a free webinar for small business owners and managers who wish to build or improve their website. To register for the webinar, click here. *** 

About the Survey

Time Warner Cable Business Class conducted an online survey of over 800 U.S. consumers in February 2016.  Offered through Harte Hanks, the survey asked a series of questions about small business shopping preferences and concerns, aimed at identifying the key factors affecting their patronage and loyalty.

About Time Warner Cable Business Services

Time Warner Cable Business Services, a division of Time Warner Cable, offers a full complement of business communications tools to small, medium and enterprise-sized companies under its Time Warner Cable Business Class brand. Through its NaviSite subsidiary, Time Warner Cable Business Services also offers scalable managed services, including application services, enterprise hosting, and managed cloud services primarily in the U.S. and U.K. Time Warner Cable Business Services, founded in 1998, serves more than 750,000 business customers throughout Time Warner Cable's service areas. For more information, visit https://business.twc.com.

Media Contact:

Patrick Paterno / Time Warner Cable
(704) 206-6860

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