Online marketing is one of the hottest topics in the local business space right now and it’s only going to get hotter as more and more business owners start to take notice of what’s going on in the local business online marketing space – as well as of the results that so many local business owners are getting from their online marketing efforts.
And it’s not just hype. There are solid numbers behind all of the buzz, such as those reported in a recent study by the Kelsey Group which found that 97% of Americans use the Internet to find information about products and services that they can buy locally – of whom:
- 90% use search engines
- 48% use the Internet Yellow Pages
- 42% use comparison shopping sites
- 24% use vertical sites
And it isn’t only business-to-consumer sales that have been getting a lift as a result of the increasing number of people who turn to the Internet to find – and buy from – local businesses. According to Nielsen/WebVisible’s The Great Divide, 41% of business-to-business (B2B) decision-makers rely on search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing to find local businesses to do business with.
The message is clear: consumers and B2B decision-makers want to buy from local businesses. And they’re using the Internet to find ones to buy from.
Where Consumers Are – and Aren’t – Spending Their Time
The Nielsen/WebVisible study also confirmed what many people had been saying for years: that consumer usage of Internet marketing channels was up – and it wasn’t up just a little bit, it was up significantly as the following figures show:
- Search engines – up 72%
- Internet Yellow Pages – up 46%
- Email offers – up 52%
- Email newsletters – up 28%
Not surprisingly, in the face of the continued growth of the Internet as a source of local business information, the popularity of traditional media channels has plummeted. According to the same Nielsen/WebVisible study, consumer usage of traditional media channels was down across the board:
- Yellow Pages Directories – down 7%
- Local newspapers – down 15%
- Direct mail – down 18%
- Television – down 18%
- White pages – down 9%
- Radio – down 14%
Why are the Yellow Pages like nursing homes? They’re shockingly expensive, few people under 70 use them, and many who do are just a little out of it. Killian & Company.
And yet, in spite of the fact that consumers and B2B decision-makers have been abandoning traditional media channels in favour of online media channels, owners of local businesses have been slow to respond – or simply haven’t responded at all – as the following facts attest:
- 90% of business owners have not claimed their free Google Places Local Business Listings – Google Places Stats
- 61% of business owners spend less than 3 hours per week marketing their website – Nielsen/WebVisible
- 51% of business owners feel that the quality and ability of their website to acquire new customers is only “fair” to “poor” – Nielsen/WebVisible
- 49% of business owners spend less than 10% of their marketing budgets on online marketing and advertising – Nielsen/WebVisible
- 46% of small businesses do not even have a website – Ad Logic
All of which means that most local small and medium businesses are virtually invisible on the Web and, as a result, are missing out on countless leads and sales (as you’ll see, there are tens of thousands of people in cities all over the world searching online for businesses just like yours every single month) and incurring higher-than-necessary costs (online marketing offers the best of both worlds: is not only more effective than offline marketing, it is also considerably less expensive).
Of course, this also means that any local business that gets its search marketing effort into gear can gain a huge advantage over most of its competitors and start to get a lot of targeted search referral traffic to its website – and emails, phone calls, and visitors to its business – virtually right way.