When you're the owner of a local business, some of your customer base finds out about you through word-of-mouth, traditional marketing methods such as door hangers or direct mail, or just by passing by and noticing your business. But are you getting enough customers this way to keep your business not just surviving, but thriving?
Brick-and-mortar businesses are still holding their own against e-commerce companies. One-third of consumers shop at a small business at least once a week, and 75 percent visit a small business at least once a month, SCORE reports.
But the way consumers find those businesses is changing. As more and more of our time is spent online, digital marketing is becoming more important to every business — including local businesses. If you still think you can get enough customers with your Yellow Pages ad and a big sign out front, consider these three reasons every local business should start using digital marketing.
Search engines have become the number-one way that consumers search for local businesses, according to MarketingSherpa. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers start with a search engine when they’re looking for a business nearby. Sure, there may be a few shoppers out there who still use the Yellow Pages as something besides a makeshift child's booster seat, but they are few and far between.
How to get attention? Creating a strong online presence helps your business show up in consumers' search results. The more places they can find you online, the better. Having a business website (more on that in a minute), a social media presence, a listing on popular online review sites, and a listing on local search directories will all contribute to helping your local business get noticed. (Here are some more tips about marketing with online reviews.)
After a general online search, going directly to a company website is the second most popular way consumers find local businesses, MarketingSherpa reports. Fifty percent of consumers will go to a business website to learn more. Most people assume that your business has a website, so when they type in your business name, or your business name with “.com” at the end of it, they generally expect your website to pop up.
Your business website doesn’t have to be fancy—but you do need to have one! Setting up a website is easier than ever to do, but if you’d rather, you can turn to marketing experts to build an optimized website for you.
Finally, the third most popular way consumers find a local business is by searching on a mobile device. Thirty-six percent of consumers do so, which makes sense: If you’re out running errands and think of something else you want to buy, do or eat, you probably grab your phone and look up the nearest location, too.
Even when prospects are relaxing on the couch, they’re more likely to reach for their phones and look up a business than to dig out their laptop. Plus, Google takes into account how mobile-friendly a site is when ranking it in search results. All of these factors are big reasons to make sure your business website is mobile-friendly.
Check out my tips on how to go beyond referrals to get new customers, and smart lead generation tips for small businesses to try. Then find out how LeadStream can help with all of the digital marketing methods above.