In September 2017 Better Small Business Solutions conducted a survey on the online research habits of small business.   This is the second survey conducted by BSBS regarding this subject matter.  The 1st survey was conducted in Sept 2016.

The 2nd survey was sent out to the Email list of BSBS and several business forums on Facebook. This survey ran for 4 week and collected 81 responses.  The sample size is relatively small and therefore maybe not a true reflection of the entire small business community.  However, the results did show some interesting trends which are in line with similar studies.

The survey focuses on four different aspects  of online research. These are:

  • Duration and frequency of online research activities: The questions used to determine this were
    1. How often do you conduct online research for your business?
    2. How long does a typical online research task you?
  • Online research strategies used: This focuses on what small businesses search for, what search engines they use, and how they determine when they have found what they are looking for. The questions asked to determine this were:
    1. What do you search for when you conduct online research for your business?
    2. What Search Engines do you use?
    3. Typically, when you conduct online research, how many links do you click on before you find the answer you are looking for?
    4. Typically, when you conduct online research how many pages of the search results do you look at?
  • Results satisfaction. The question asked here were:
    1. Overall, how satisfied are you with what you have found while conducting online research?
    2. When doing online research do you believe your time could have been better spent working on other areas of your business?
  • Perception about outsourcing online research tasks. The questions asked here were;
    1. Have you ever outsourced your online researching to a third party?
    2. Would you ever consider outsourcing your Online research needs to a third Party?

Duration and Frequency of Online Research Activities

Q1. How often do you conduct online research for your business?

39% of the small business survey said they do research more than once a day. 11% said they conduct online research once a day. 24% of small business conduct online research 2 to 4 times a week and 10% only search once a week.

1% of small businesses conduct online research 2 to 4 times per month.  5% percent of small businesses conduct online research once a month.

1% of small business say they conduct online research 2 to 5 times per year and another 1 percent say they search online 6 to 11 times per year.

1 % of small businesses conduct research once year. 4% of the small business survey said they conduct online research less than once a year.

3% of small businesses said they do not conduct any research at all.

Q2. How long does a typical online research task take you?

When asked how long a typical online research task takes, 10% of small businesses said it took them under 15 minutes.  23% percent of small business said it takes them 15 to 30 minutes to conduct a typical online research take and 27% percent said it takes them 30 minutes to one hour.

19% of small businesses said it takes them 1 to 2 hours to conduct a typical online research task and 2% said they researched from 2 to 4 hours.  10% of small businesses surveyed  responded they spend from  4  to 8 hours on a typical online research task.

Online Research Strategies

Q3. What do you search for when you conduct online research for your business?0nline research habits

When asked “what do you search for when conducting online line research for your business”, 65.63% of respondent said they look at industry trends, 54.32% said they researched for marketing purposes and 54.32% looks for new tools to help systemise their business.

49.38% of respondents say they search online to conduct competition analysis and 43.12% search the internet to source suppliers. 39.51% of small business search online locate potential clients/customers and 29.63% search online to understand legislation and compliance issues about their business.  27.16% percent of small business search for new service viability, 24.69% search to assess new market, 24.69% assess new markets and 13.58% of small businesses search online to assess new markets.

2.47% of respondents said they conduct online research to find new information for their clients.

1.23% of small business search to troubleshoot design issues, 1.23% look for specialised e-courses, 1.23% search for background information on a potential client. 1.23% of respondent say the search online to ascertain people perception about new products and 1.23% search for new ideas and concepts for their business.

Q4. What Search Engines do you use?

When asked what search engines they use 96.30% of respondents said they use Google, 6.17% said they use Bing. 4.94% said they use Duck Duck Go and 2.47% said they use Yahoo. 1.23% said they use Start Page, 1.23% said they use Pinterest/Behance, 1.23% said the use google scholar and 1.23% said they use Ecosia.

2107 Online research habits survey - Google exclusivity

80% of small business use Google exclusively and 17% do not use Google exclusively.  3% of small businesses surveyed said they do not use Google at all. Instead they prefer to use Yahoo, Start Page and Bing.

Q5. Typically, when you conduct online research, how many links do you click on before you find the answer you are looking for?

When asked how many links they click on before they find the answer they are looking for, 1% of small businesses said they only click once, 54% said they click on 2 to 4 links and 6% said they click on 5 links.

24% said they click on 4 to 9 links, 1% said they click on 10 links, 9% said they click on 9 to 19 links and 2% said they click o 20 Links.

3% of small business said the click on more than 20 links before they find the answer they re looing for.

Q6. Typically, when you conduct online research how many pages of the search results do you look at?online research habits survey

When asked how pages of the search results do you look at, 20% of small businesses said they only look at 1 page only, 25% said they look at 2 pages and 25% said they look at 3 pages.

67% of small businesses responded they look at 4 pages and 11% said the look at 5 pages. 7% of small said they search trough 6 pages od the search engine results, 1% said they search through 7 pages and another 1% said they search through 8 pages.

3% of small businesses said they will search through more than 10 pages to find what they are looking for.

Results Satisfaction

Q7. Overall, how satisfied are you with what you have found while conducting online research?Online research habits survey

When asked how satisfied they were with what had found when conducting online research, 11% of small businesses responded they where Extremely satisfied and 40% said they were very satisfied.

41% of small businesses said they were moderately satisfied with what they had found when conducting online research and 6% said they where slightly satisfied.

2% of small businesses said they were not satisfied at all with what they had found when conducting their own online research.

Q8. When doing online research do you believe your time could have been better spent working on other areas of your business?online research habits survey

 

 

When asked if they thought their time doing online research was well spent or would they have preferred to do some other task, 25% of small Businesses said their time was well spent and 44% said they would rather be working on other tasks.  31% of small businesses were unsure if the time was well spent doing online research or not. 

Outsourcing Online Research

Q9. Have you ever outsourced your online researching to a third party?online research habits

When asked “have you ever outsourced your online researching to a third party” 88% of respondents said they have not considered it, whereas 12% of them say have outsourced their online research tasks.

Q10. Would you ever consider outsourcing your online research needs to a third Party?2017 online research habits survey

When asked” would you ever consider outsourcing your online research tasks?” 19% of small businesses said they would consider it and 38% of small businesses said they would not consider outsourcing their online research tasks. d 36% of small businesses said they would need to look into  it further before considering outsourcing their online research tasks. 7% of small businesses did not know if they would consider outsourcing their online research tasks or not.

 

 

Online Research Matters

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