Using the internet to market goods and services is simple in principle, but maximizing online marketing requires that business owners continually adapt their tactics to suit changes in technology and consumer preference. For decades, a company’s webpage was their most important online asset but the rise of smartphones and tablets have made mobile marketing more important than ever. A new study sponsored by Google shows just how important mobile marketing is for small and local businesses.
The Ipsos MediaCT study has a lot good data but the main takeaway was blatantly obvious. Consumers are turning to their mobile devices in masse to search for local information. The survey of 4,500 people found that 88 percent of smartphone users and 84 percent of tablet owners conduct local searches. In many ways, the internet and mobile devices have taken the place of telephone directories like the Yellow Pages.
On smartphones, more than half of searchers are looking for local information such as business hours, directions, and the store’s address. On tablets and computers, local searches focused on things like product availability, more so than business hours and location.
Interestingly, the study also found that users were searching for local information throughout the buying process. Some began local search as soon when looking for inspiration on what to buy; some used local searches to research specific products; many used it to find where to purchase the item; while others were using local searches after they purchased an item.
The survey also showed that local information would be used. The authors reported that “more than 60% of consumers said they used the local information in an ad, specifically the link for directions and the click-to-call button (or the local address and phone number if on a computer or tablet)”.
The study also found that “one in three searches on smartphone occur right before consumers visit a store.” In addition, the majority of store visits following a local search occurred within a 5 mile radius of the user’s location. This finding is similar to a February report from Bright Local that found people were usually willing to drive up to 17 minutes to reach a destination they had searched for.
Being able to take advantage of local search can be a boon to the bottom line of a business. When people are searching for information on local retailers, they are usually in a mood to buy.
“Our research suggests that consumers who conduct local searches are further down the purchase funnel,” the researchers said in a press release. “Within a day of a local search, 34 percent of consumers who sought local information on their computer or tablet made their way to a store, and of those who used a smartphone, the number is even higher at 50 percent.”
Local searchers are also more than twice as likely to buy an item within a day than non-local searchers. According to the study, 18 percent of local searches lead to a purchase within a day versus 7 percent for non-local searches.
This desire for proximity in information carries over to ads. It’s important for advertisers to remember that it’s not so much that people don’t like ads, but rather, they don’t like ads that aren’t relevant to them. The study found that consumers overwhelmingly wanted ads that would be useful to them where they are at the time. For example, four out of five respondents said they wanted search ads to be customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings (e.g. ads for businesses near the airport or their hotel).
The study is just the latest in a long line of research that shows the importance of mobile marketing in the current technological environment, as well as the importance of SEO and mobile marketing for small and local business owners. Marketers need to make sure their websites and ads are mobile compatible and contain the local information that people are looking for.