SMBs Value Education, Attractive Websites, Transparency in Vendor Selection
May 12, 2015 | Contributed by: Joe Morsello
Last week we examined a study from Constant Contact that showed an appetite and pleasure SMBs feel from trying new things, learning and being in charge. Implicitly, the study appeared to be advocating for marketing solutions built on educating and empowering local entrepreneurs.
A new study from G/O Digital takes this notion one step further and more concretely shows that educational resources and tools actually impact whether a vendor is selected or not.
According to the study of nearly 600 SMB respondents, free educational training was ranked as most important in the overall marketing investment decision. Unsurprisingly, much like everyone else, these SMBs are turning to the internet to explore vendors and marketing topics.
More surprising were the types online content on a vendor’s website that SMB survey respondents said were most important to their decision. At the top of the list was “depth of content.” While this is somewhat vague, it suggests that SMBs want access to all available information so they can feel confident they are making an informed decision.
Most interestingly to me was the fact that “design of website” was the second most important piece of content SMBs examine when selecting a vendor. So much of the SMB-vendor discussion centers on solutions, products and offerings, bundles, etc. Meanwhile, SMBs are looking to see if a vendor’s website communicates the digital sophistication they would like to present themselves.
There is definitely a parallel here in the attitudes of the general consumer and the SMB “consumer” seeking a marketing vendor. One study showed that almost half (46%) of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning credibility. This equally appears to apply to the SMB seeking a vendor. For that reason, vendor websites need to function like a mirror and reflect the digital identity the SMB hopes to convey.
Following “design of website,” SMBs say they want “vendor comparisons.” In this category they want a great deal of information about vendors, which points to the need for a more transparent marketplace.
Pricing information was the most important single factor in vendor selection. They also want customer testimonials (i.e., reviews) for credibility. But there are a number of other considerations that suggest what SMBs want most is understanding, trustworthiness and support.
These “intangible” variables (e.g., delivering on commitments) are critical; the list above reads like a set of disappointments that SMBs have suffered dealing with marketing providers and other vendors.
The list also argues that SMB churn can be partly remedied by delivering basic customer service.