(NC) Now more than ever small business should invest in developing an engaging digital presence to connect with their consumers. A recent study shows that 85 percent of consumers are interested in doing preliminary online research before their purchase. Fortunately, there are many simple ways for small business owners to increase their online visibility at reasonable costs.

Investing in creating a website is a good example. It’s not necessary to spend staggering sums; you only need to include some basic information about the business and relevant images and videos. Consumers increasingly use mobile apps to make travel easier and to find their way in the city, but also to discover their neighbourhood’s businesses, so creating a mobile version of your site is a great idea as well.

Another inexpensive way for small business owners to maximize their online visibility is by taking the time to develop a social media presence. Canadian consumers use social media to find storefront locations and get recommendations and comments before going in person. Use social platforms like Facebook and Instagram to publish photos or videos of your products and promote sales and contests.

There are many free tools available to small and medium sized businesses that help optimize their digital presence. For example, the Yellow Pages’ Shop The Neighbourhood program (www.shoptheneighbourhood.yp.ca) offers many tips and useful information for entering the digital environment.

“It’s important to help small businesses move to digital easily, which actively contributes to the development of Canadian communities,” explains François Ramsay, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Affairs at Yellow Pages.