In the decades since the internet became accessible to everyday consumers, the information superhighway has grown in importance for the way we learn about things and communicate with each others. Most small business owners are aware they can use the internet to find new vendors, keep track of industry trends, and connect with a worldwide consumer base. However, some local business owners have yet to take advantage of the internet to market their business. It’s understandable the owners don’t want to waste money by advertising to people who can’t possibly use their services; but any money a business days by not using online marketing come at the cost of the great sales potential the Internet has for all businesses. Even without a single item online there are many reasons why local businesses need to market their business online.
Local business owners need to understand the power of the Internet for search and discovery. Whether they’re searching for authentic Indian tapestries or the local sandwich shop, people use the internet to find where they want to spend their money. Modern consumers are far less likely to discover a business simply by seeing its sign on the road than they were the past. Besides the cost in fuel, the bounty of information available online makes random stops without researching first less attractive. By ensuring their business can be found through online searches, local business owners exponentially increase the odds that consumers will find out about their services.
This intuitive way of thinking about the importance online marketing for local businesses is backed up by research. There have been many studies, some recent, that show local businesses need search based marketing. According to one study, 89 percent of consumers start with a search engine when looking for information on products, business, or professionals. Earlier this year, Ipsos MediaCT and Google released a study which stated 88 percent of smartphone users and 84 percent of tablet owners conduct local searches. And a February report from Bright Local found people were usually willing to drive up to 17 minutes to reach a destination they had searched for.
Another reason local businesses need to market on the World Wide Web harkens back to something we mentioned earlier. Modern consumers don’t just find out about new brands or products from the internet; the internet gives shoppers the tools they need to easily compare and evaluate the offering of a business. No matter if a customer is looking for the lowest price, the best reviewed item, or the most generous service package, they know they can find the information online. Local business owners need to use the Internet to highlight the best features of their business. They can no longer rely on people coming to their store first and then discovering these positive features. If that information isn’t available online it may never be discovered.