PEW Internet, one of the world’s leading research and survey companies, recently published its findings regarding how adults over the age of 18 find local businesses in today’s economy. The study involved 1087 adults, and each was asked about their online and offline search habits relating to seeking out local businesses, as well as which method they were most likely to use.
60% of respondents claimed that they do use the internet to seek out information on local businesses, not including bars and restaurants. Of these respondents, 47% claimed that the internet was the the search method they used the most. These findings claimed that 36% of respondents relied on search engines, while 16% relied on specialty websites. Only 1% of respondents claimed to rely heavily on social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
The survey also states that respondents who did not rely mainly on internet searches used methods which included newspapers, recommendations from family and friends, as well as local television and radio broadcasts. The statistics for these individuals were as follows: 31% used newspapers, 22% used recommendations, 8% used television and 5% used radio.
When it comes to searching for restaurants and bars, the percentage points for online searches increase slightly. Of these respondents, 51% relied heavily on the internet for information on local eateries and clubs. 38% claimed that search engines were their main source of information, while 16% used specialty websites and 3% used social media. 5% of respondents searching for bars and restaurants using newspapers claimed to use the online version most often.
What is important to remember when analyzing these numbers is that respondents were offered the option to fill in more than one answer for a question, meaning some people who gave an answer of “search engine” may have also answered “social media.” This survey also states that respondents most likely to use the internet for searches tended to be young adults and females, as well as tech-savvy urban residents.
For online marketers, this information is invaluable. Whether you’re marketing a local business or a national business on a local scale, you need to take advantage of online opportunities that can get your clients’ businesses in front of potential consumers. This means adding accurate information about your clients to sites and directory services such as Google Places, City Search, Yelp, online phonebooks and more. This information needs to be static across all online business directories in order to not only help customers find the business you’re promoting, but also to assist in building a brand.
As a marketer, you also need to recognize the potential that this data has for PPC campaigns. By developing branded keywords for your clients, you will be able to use services such as Google AdWords to help drive local traffic to your client’s local business. Keep in mind that you may end up having to bid on hot keywords, but if you’re able to get them, they should be able to provide plenty of marketing exposure and potential business for you.