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In addition to measuring small business owners’ optimism, this quarter’s Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index asked them what they are doing to expand their customer base.

The most popular action is increased marketing to acquire new customers, particularly through online and digital advertising, which was selected by 36% of respondents. Second most popular is customer service and retention, mentioned by 13% of respondents, and third is product development and expansion, cited by 9%.

It’s also apparent that online reviews are being viewed by small business owners as increasingly important.

Consider these results:

  • 53% of small business owners report that customers have access to online reviews of their business;
  • 65% of businesses whose customers have access to online reviews say that they take active steps to encourage their customers to post positive reviews.
  • 66% say they post online responses to the reviews; and
  • 43% say they have taken actions or made changes based on what the reviews say.

Meanwhile, the Wells Fargo/Gallup index showed small business owners’ optimism fading slightly in the first quarter, but still strong. The index dropped to +132 from +142 in Q 4 of 2019, but remains within the range from much of 2019. The survey was conducted Jan. 3-10.

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