It goes without saying, but technology has changed the ways we interact and do business. With every passing moment – the internet, our mobile devices, social networks, access to media – all evolve the way sell, advertise, and run our day to day businesses.

More than 76% of Americans are connected to the Internet. The Internet has transformed the way Americans shop. You see the statistics all of the time about the rise of internet shopping. 88% of Internet users browse or research products online. 70% of U.S. consumers research products online and then buy them offline. It is more than just browsing though… The amount Americans spend online will increase by 200% between 2012 and 2016, and it is more than just a phenomena. Many states are now requiring online retailers such as Amazon to start charging sales tax.
These are not facts that your business can run from, in fact the opposite is true. In order to succeed now and in the future, your company not only needs to accept how technology is changing our interactions – but fully embrace it. Businesses that take advantage of the Internet realize valuable benefits. 64% say the Internet has increased revenues and sales, 48% say the Internet has expanded their geographic boundaries and 73% say the Internet has saved them money by decreasing administrative costs
All of that being said – keeping pace with technology is not an easy task. Consumers have become experts at seeking out the best products, services and prices using tools like mobile phones, tablets, reviews and ratings sites, and local search engines. Honestly, there is no way to make sure that you are in front of all of the major trends at all times. What you can do is make sure you are taking advantage of these trends by listing your business on search engines and ratings and reviews sites.
By this time, everyone knows about Web 2.0 and the integration of social media. Social media is entrenched in consumers’ daily routines. Social media is growing—Facebook added more than 200 million users in 2011, and has recently gone over 1 billion users. A couple of more interesting Facebook facts: 50% of all Facebook users log on in any given day and 48% of 18 to 34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up.

There is a shocking gap between consumers and businesses in terms of this type of media, as 80% of online visitors use social media daily, but only about 50% of small businesses use social media.
Seeing as how the gap currently exists – social media creates a huge opportunity for businesses. Connecting with current customers builds loyalty and increases the chance that they will recommend your business to their friends. In addition, 51% of potential consumers who fan a business page become purchasers, friend recommendations can be an effective way to boost business.
There are many ways to utilize Facebook, but ultimately it is all about the creation of fans and a community. 37% of consumers stated that special offers and discounts were the main reason they followed a business on Facebook – offering incentives is a great way to reward followers, create an engaged community, and develop a dynamic web presence.
Data shows that video marketing is the wave of the future. Online video makes up 50% of all consumer Internet traffic, but all this data leads to more than just wasted time. 52% of consumers say product videos help them make purchase decisions and products with videos are 144% more likely to be purchased. In fact, visitors who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy. Retail sites with video increase conversions by 30%.Video also increases the chance of a front-page Google result by 53%.
What does this mean for small businesses? Consider adding video to your marketing efforts, whether it be an online video brochure, a tour of your business, video newsletters or instructional videos.
Which social media sites do small businesses find most effective in engaging customers?
86% Facebook
71% Video Sharing
60% Twitter
55% LinkedIn

P.S.
Some quick statistics on why every small business should be blogging.
On average, companies that blog have 55% more website visitors.
B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month.
B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month.
Blogging not only develops a sense of voice for your and/or your company, but also assists in your indexing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Sources: 12 Statistics, E-Commerce 62%; E-retail will influence 53% of purchases by 2014, Forrester says, Internet Retailer, 3/8/10; Exploring E-Commerce, Entrepreneur.com; Marketing to Customers in a Post-Recession Economy, U.S. Small Business Administration, 4/17/12; Internet 2011 in numbers, http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/01/17/internet-2011-in-numbers/; http://www.statisticbrain.com/facebook-statistics/; 2011 Impact of Social Business in Small and Medium Business Study, SMB Group; Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011–2016, 5/30/12; Online Video Drives Conversion and Traffic, Social Media Today, 7/2/12; Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011–2016, 5/30/12; Online Video Drives Conversion and Traffic, Social Media Today, 7/2/12; How Small Business Blogs Increase Sales, Infographic, 2012.

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