As I noted in a previous post, local search is a big deal for smaller local businesses, and the TMPDM study produced some interesting results that every SMB should be aware of. For instance, the report notes that “digital acceptance is spanning generations, from teenagers to parents and even grandparents.” This group, who the authors refer to as “Generation Now,” is adept at searching online and they expect to find what they want – easily and quickly.
Key Findings from the TMP Study and What They Mean for You
70% of consumers go online when they’re searching for something local.
Gone are the days when you didn’t need to have an online presence if you were a small, local business. Now, if you’re not online, you’re simply not going to be found by a majority of your prospective customers.
About 60% of those people who went online looking for something local went to search engines.
At a minimum, you need to be sure your online listings at Google Places, Bing Local, Yahoo! Local and Best of the Web are claimed. You can easily manage this (for free) from getlisted.org. Beyond that, consider search engine optimization to help your site be more readily found by potential customers.
40% of online local information-seeking is happening somewhere other than search engines – social networks, online directories, etc.
Get listed in industry directories and others that are specific to your geographic area. Consider whether social networking sites are viable options for your business.
About one-third of local searchers abandon their search entirely if they can’t find what they need quickly.
As a local business, you need to ensure that you are findable in all the places customers might be looking. Use keyword research tools like Google’s and your own website analytics to help you see how people are searching.
Print Yellow Pages rank second (behind search engines) in terms of where people go to find local information.
For many businesses, a good Yellow Pages listing is still worthwhile. If you’re not already doing so, track where your leads or customers are coming from to ensure that this remains true for YOUR business.
A quick glance at the chart below from the TMP Directional Marketing white paper shows how things are changing (print yellow pages declining year over year, for instance) but also highlights how many options searchers have – and how many places a good small business marketer needs to be.
source: tmp Directional Marketing
Social networking sites, local search sites, internet yellow pages, search engines, and cell phones & wireless device are all becoming more significant and adding to the complexity for marketers. Notwithstanding that complexity, though, there’s simply no way around the fact that you have to be where your customers are looking for you.