Online Search for Local Information is Growing Fast
One of the biggest mistakes businesses with a local market make is to assume they have no need for an effective web presence. There is a tendency to think that, if they have a Yellow Pages ad, and advertise in the local paper, people know all about their business. The fact is, people search for local information on products and services all the time, and it’s the fastest growing search segment. According to a study conducted by web behavior research firm comScore, Inc., search for local businesses, products, and services grew 58% in 2008, outpacing overall search growth, which grew at 21%.
Think about that.
Think all your local customers already know about you and your products and services, so they don’t need to find you on the web? Think again. Apparently, they don’t find the Yellow Pages all that helpful. They’re online looking for you; or your local competitors. Makes no difference to them, as long as they find someone local on Google to sell them what they want. If you’re not there, you won’t see their shiny happy faces at your place of business.
Take advantage of the fact that your neighbors are using the web. Make sure your website and/or blog is updated frequently with information that is interesting and relevant to your local customers (hint: it may not be the history of your company). Make sure your website offers a variety of ways for customers to contact you: a submittable form, phone numbers, an email address (make sure it’s protected from spambots). Show your picture on your website (and a picture of each employee) so they recognize you when they come in.
Offer web-only specials: if they say the word of the day (only displayed on your website) at checkout, they get 10% off some item. Offer an online newsletter signup and send them a monthly email newsletter that lets them know what they should be paying attention to (that you can help them with). Offer online signup for a locals-only bargain club. There are a million ways to engage local audiences using your website, and if you can think of some ways that would be unique to your business, so much the better.
It’s time: scrap the old brochure website and replace it with something more engaging; something that attracts the local folks looking for what you have to offer.