Being a home-based business owner, I am aware of the many challenges one could face while operating a local business. Today’s prevailing changes to the marketplace is a major challenge, but let’s not forget political factors such as wage rates and possible union issues. Under-capitalization is another huge challenge that haunts so many well-meaning entrepreneurs. So how is implementing an Internet marketing strategy going to overcome these challenges?. The Internet has become a majorly useful tool to have in the business toolbox. While it may not be able to ward of the government and their regulations, it does work magic for creating buzz, building brand loyalty and generating new business & referrals. I cannot speak for you, but when I think about my friends, co-worker and even myself, we turn to the Internet (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) when we are looking for a solution. This can be any kind of solution for example, “Oh my stomach is growling & I don’t feel like cooking. What’s around here to eat or order in?” or “My back is really soar from that car accident the other day. I need to find a chiropractor and perhaps a lawyer while I am at it!”. Let’s take a look at some facts taken from: comScore, Google, Kesley and the NPD Group:
- 97% of American Internet users use the Internet to shop of which 57% characterize their behavior as “shop online, purchase offline.”
- 90% of online commercial searches result in offline bricks and mortar purchases
- 82% of local searchers follow-up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase
- 74% of Internet users perform local searches
- 73% of online activity is related to local content
- 66% of Americans use online local search to locate local businesses
- 61% of local searches result in purchases
- 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books
- 35% of all searches are local
- For every $1U.S. consumers spend online, another $5-$6 are going to offline purchases that are influenced by online research
- What’s most impressive to me is that 90% of online commercial searches results in local offline purchases.
All those statistics mean is that finding businesses locally is becoming an Internet driven task. Thanks to local search tools and mobile devices such as Smartphone’s & iPad’s; real local businesses are increasingly visible to local consumers online. As a result, the Internet continues to provide e-commerce but is now driving local sales as well. And as consumers continue to move online and become connected by mobile, their reliance on online tools to perform searches for local information, local businesses, and everything else local, will only continue to grow. This is why a local business owner can be missing out on Archers of Diamonds without a well thought out Internet marketing strategy. Let me make it clear.
When you think about it, a high local search conversion rate makes perfect sense. Most people are not going to look for a local restaurant, lawyer, dentist, yoga studio, plumber, accountant, or any other local business for that matter, unless they plan on using it. When people search for a local seller, they are more than likely motivated to buy. Think of local Internet searching as the new way that consumers “shop around”. Instead of driving from business to business in search of the best value; they turn to the Internet to seek the same value before making a purchase often getting a referral from an online friend. Now let’s take a look at Google and even Facebook. Did you know Facebook is the second ranked website for the most daily traffic only behind Google? And that they also have their own search function and advertising? Go to Google and Facebook if you have an account. Now in Google search using a phrase that people looking for your product or service would type in. In Facebook, search for your company’s name. Are any of the top search results your business or links back to your business? What is listed, is it showing off your business in glory or is it painting a dark cloud? Local search engine optimization for a local business is a huge positive for the bottom line. If you have not realized yet, most of the Internet is free to use; Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc are all free to use for the most part. This along can save thousands of dollars on advertising expenses while building long-term leverage. The marketplace is experiencing significant changes and local search is here to stay. While it is still in it’s infancy, if the local search marketing is embraced, it can significantly fuel the growth of your local business. It can open the doors to every customer located within the area you service at little or no cost. The possibilities are endless. If you offer products and/or services that can be delivered in digital format or shipped; an e-commerce website can act as a 24/7/365 store-front that is ALWAYS open to take your customers’ payment.
What I have just shared with you is just a glimpse into the power of the Internet. It’s a value tool that is at your local business’ disposal. Having the awareness of it’s potential, you are now faced with a few options as to what to do next: Do Nothing: Just keep doing what you’ve been doing thinking that you don’t have time for his stuff while you let you competitors take business from you. Yes, you may have a website already but it is like a billboard next to an abandoned road. Remember this: Do It Yourself: Spend hours and hours trying to figure this stuff out on your own through trial and error. While getting confused with keyword research and not communicating properly in the social arena, you also manage to wasting money messing up the ad campaigns. In the end, you cross your fingers hoping all of your hard work will pay off. Hire A Large SEO Company: Great idea if you have the ad budget of large fortune 500 companies.