SMBs can get their most valuable customers to convert with good SEO and website content.

A report from the SymphonyIRI Group found that, while most “downturn shoppers” use the web to find coupons and discounts, the web has become a critical tool in researching new purchases to find the most value.

According to the report, 27 percent of shoppers said they conduct research on the web to gain a better understanding of products and services they planned to buy in the fourth quarter of 2011. This figure rose steadily throughout the year, with 24 percent providing the same answer in the second quarter.

While 39 percent said they use the web to find coupons from manufacturers – 37 percent from retailers – the other uses for the web are gaining traction moving into 2012. For small businesses, providing consumers with content marketing material that informs and provides a glimpse into certain products can help appeal to those deciding on a new purchase.

“What we are finding is that consumers are holding on to the old way of doing things – clipping coupons and circulars – but they are using the internet as an incremental way to save money,” Susan Viamari, head of consumer insight market polls at SymphonyIRI, said in a release.

ContentLEAD recently reported that consumers have expressed a greater desire for businesses of all sizes and industries to improve their overall web presence. As more people begin to rely on the web – desktop or mobile – to buy and research products, small businesses with strong web presences will have a clear advantage.