Talking to friends recently it seems I live in two different worlds. The world that happens offline where work is still hard to come by and people are knee deep in a recession recovery that is moving too slowly for them.
Then I switch on my computer and check emails on behalf of clients who receive messages of enquiry or possible business to business joint partnerships and I can’t help but notice how very different everything is online.
I have noticed a definite shift and return to “normality” since the beginning of 2010 at least in my online world as people begin to spend again and business picks up (for my clients and therefore by extension for me too!) so I have to wonder whether the internet can help lead the way towards economic recovery for local business owners?
Indications are that online advertising spending has continued to rise
Back in October 2010 ClickZ reported that – video and social drive online advertising’s growth in UK

“Following a year-over-year decline during the first half of 2009, spending on Internet display advertising grew by 6.3 percent in the U.K. during the first six months of 2010, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau U.K. biannual ad expenditure survey. Overall, online ad spend for the same period grew 10 percent, year-over-year, reaching a total of £1.97 billion ($3.1 billion.)”

Being cheaper than advertising in local print media and proving far more effective businesses are shifting more towards the internet to attract new business.
Is your local business ready for the upturn?
From everything I am reading about local search (people searching within a local area for goods/services) it continues to rise as potential customers search online before going offline to buy. I think this is the most powerful part of local search for a local business – people are not just searching for information (and if they are hopefully your local business is set up to supply that through the content you create) they are searching for actual goods and services, they are “warm leads” looking to buy. Your online presence will decide whether their hard earned cash goes to you or your competitor.
It’s no longer enough to settle for a basic website and some SEO, it certainly is no longer acceptable just to write information about what your business does and how great your business is. Now people are swayed by the negative comment of an unhappy customer or the positive comment of a happy one. They look for coupons and discounts and they spend time “Liking” and “Following”.
Have you woken up to the realisation of what the internet can do for your local business yet?
The power of local search marketing
I have spent the last two years following this trend and right now although most of the research is based on USA figures here are some of the things that have been reported:

  • 25% of internet searches have a purely local, commercial focus (Kelsey-Bizrate)
  • 74% of Internet users perform local searches (Kelsey Group)
  • 90% of online commercial searches result in offline bricks and mortar purchases (comScore)
  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline by visiting the business, phone call or purchase (TMP/comScore)
  • 61% of local searches result in purchases (TMP/comScore)
  • 54% of Internet users would rather use the Internet and local search then phone books (comScore)

Even Google didn’t really appreciate the power of local search until April 2009, they then went on to introduce Maps into the search results and encouraged local business owners to set up their own “Place” using their tool Google places. When I speak on local search marketing and ask people in the room if they have a Google Places profile set up I am amazed at how many business owners are still not taking advantage of this great tool.
Mobile Marketing On The Increase
Not all local search takes place at a PC at home or on a laptop – mobiles are playing a huge part in how people find a local business and increases advertising opportunities for local businesses who can send out offers and advertise their products/services via mobile texts ads.
Local Search Driving Foot Traffic To Local Business

“Almost one-third of smartphone users who search for local businesses via mobile end up visiting or calling the location.  This was a key finding of the Q1 2010 Smartphone Intelligence survey by Kantar Media’s Compete.”

 
When you consider all of this it is safe to say that local search marketing and local seo (search engine optimisation) can no longer be ignored. Finding ways to use the internet to promote a local business is no longer something to “think about” and is fast becoming something that MUST be embraced.
The most difficult part in all of this is getting started which is why we not only offer to do this work for you through our online marketing services but we also provide digital marketing workshops that you can attend and learn how you can effective use the internet to generate visitors and referrals to your local business.
If your local business needs to begin its economic recovery consider the internet as a viable tool to help in that process. Call me, Diane Corriette, on 020 3239 6509 to discuss how we can help.