If you are still not convinced that local online marketing is important, think about this: Internet usage by consumers is skyrocketing; ninety seven percent (97 %) of consumers now use the Internet is some way to shop for local products and services. In addition:
- Smartphone usage is booming. Three out of four shoppers who find helpful information in local search results are likely to visit the stores. (thinkwithgoogle, marketingland)
- GE Capital Retail Bank’s second annual Major Purchase Shopper Study has found that 81% of consumers extensively research online before making major purchases.
- When making purchase decisions, North American Internet users trust recommendations and opinions posted by unknown consumers online more than advertisements on television, on the radio, in magazines and newspapers, or in other traditional media. (Nielsen Online, April 2009)
- Consumers now trust advertising on branded websites more than any other form of advertising behind personal referrals from people they know. (Nielsen)
- 88% of consumers browse online before making a purchase at a brick and mortar store (Accenture)
What Does it All Mean?
What these statistics really mean is that the Internet has a very powerful and profound effect on how consumers find, compare and purchase products and services from local merchants. In basic terms, the Internet has changed how consumers shop. In the past local businesses reached their consumers through trade shows, print advertising, and other more traditional marketing methods used to help businesses find consumers. Today, consumers are looking for merchants and start their shopping on the Internet. They look for products and services they are interested in using search engines, the blogosphere, and social media sites. In order to remain competitive, businesses’ need to be “findable” online by the consumers already searching for the products and services they sell. The savvy entrepreneur should take heed and not fight the trend, but position themselves to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities to get found online.
It’s More Than Just a Website
Local online marketing is more than just putting up a website and waiting for people to find you. Collectively it refers to the use of your website, landing page, business listing, social media and search engine optimization of these components that increases your local business online visibility and search engine ranking to increase the chances that consumers will find you online. To be successful marketing yourself online you must have a plan. Any plan starts with understanding:
- What is online marketing?
- What is affordable online marketing?
- What is small business online marketing?
- Are there unique online marketing opportunities for me and my business?
- Will a personal online reputation management effort help me grow my business?
While there are generally never any certainties in business, there is one certainty with regard to Internet marketing. If you are not doing any local online marketing, you’re not being competitive.
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