Local Consumers Internet Usage Can No Longer Be Ignored

Local consumer Internet usage can no longer be ignored by local businesses.

If you’ve been reading my website for a while, you will be very familiar with the fact that statistics clearly show that most people turn to the Internet to locate LOCAL products and services. Depending on the local consumers Internet usage statistics you believe, the percentage may be as high as 90% in some cases. It goes without saying that long gone are the days when people would pick up the local Yellow Pages phone book to search for the companies or services they need.

Think about it… when is the last time you picked up yours? The change in behavior over the past 5 to 10 years is astonishing.

The fact of the matter is that nowadays, the Internet is the first place most people look to when they need to find pretty much anything. It has truly become an integral part of our daily lives.

In my family, I have a phrase I use over and over whenever we need to find a service, find a location, look for a nearby restaurant, or find any type of information … “Have you asked the Oracle?”

That’s how I refer to Google. 🙂

Let’s Review Some Consumer Internet Usage Statistics

local consumers internet usage - infographic

Local consumers Internet usage can no longer be ignored. (Infographic courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/6780720740/sizes/o/in/photostream/)

If you believe I might be overstating the degree to which local consumers are using the Internet and how significant Internet usage has become, take a look at the infographic above, and consider these statistics:

  • Over 250 million searches for products and businesses are performed per DAY on Google alone.
  • Direct Marketing News reported that 35% of all Internet searches are local.
  • comScore reported that an astounding 90% of local commercial searches result in offline bricks and mortar purchases.
  • Online marketing was expected to be 15% of all media advertisement spending in 2013.

With billions of LOCAL searches being performed online each month, the Internet has officially surpassed the printed Yellow Pages, newspapers, and other traditional marketing methods when it comes to overall effectiveness. As a result most of the large print media companies such as Yellow Pages and the newspapers are shifting their focus to supporting online advertising. Many newspapers are fighting for their survival and rethinking their business models is a struggle to remain profitable.

Over the past couple of years in particular, online marketing has gone beyond the personal computer — mobile phone Internet usage is also growing at astonishing rates. I was personally a hold out when it came to getting an iPhone … now I do almost everything on it from checking email, reading the news, checking the sports scores, streaming movies, and searching for what ever I need.

The Internet has changed the way the world communicates, gathers information, and markets its products and services.

Implications for Local Business Owners

While the Internet age has facilitated fascinating changes in technology and consumer behavior, it has has also created unusual challenges for many local business owners.

What are some of those challenges?

  • Many local businesses are suddenly losing business to new online competitors, some of which are national or even international.
  • Customer expectations are higher and customer loyalty is more fickle. As a result — and I appreciate this is a generalization — more and more local businesses are struggling to get new and repeat customers than ever before.
  • In many cases, business expenses continue to rise while profits margins are being squeezed.
  • Many local business owners are barely able to stay afloat, yet remain oblivious to the opportunity available to them through the power of the Internet marketing. In fact, one of the first things consumers are inclined to do is to check out a company’s website and if your company doesn’t have one, or if it isn’t up to snuff, they move on to the next one.
  • Some local business owners continue to remain entrenched in the old marketing paradigm and spend thousands of dollars on traditional print advertising methods, which are yielding diminishing returns … and driving the cost of customer acquisition upwards.
  • Savvy local competitors are catching on to the power of online marketing and differentiating themselves from their counterparts, further compromising their competitors.
  • Most consumers have traded in their Yellow Pages for more comprehensive online search capabilities that are accessible from anywhere so long as they have their smart phone with them.
  • Newspaper sales are down everywhere and print advertising volume has dropped significantly while losing its effectiveness.
  • Digital video recording (DVR) devices such as TiVo allow people to skip commercials meaning that they are not hearing or viewing ads intended for them.

I could go on, but I won’t.

As a Local Business Owner, What Does the Internet Usage Trend Mean to You?

Given what I’ve shared with you, would you agree that whenever YOU need information or need to find a product or service, your first thought is to go online?

This is the reason why I’m suggesting that local consumers internet usage can no longer be ignored. Or more to the point … and I appreciate that this may sound like a cliche … if you as a local business owner choose to continue to ignore the power of online marketing, you do so at your own peril.

In my opinion, the Internet is a new age marketing channel that has become a “must have” for all businesses. If you want to continue to grow your business and get new customers, creating an online presence has become a necessity. To reach younger demographics, I dare say the Internet is the most important marketing channel.

The Internet provides several powerful avenues to help businesses continue to get more leads, more customers, and more profits.

This is great news, but many businesses are being left in the wind when it comes to online marketing, while their competitors are implementing online strategies that allow them to dominate their local market.

If you are not establishing a strong online presence, your chance of connecting with local customers is greatly reduced. Without it, you’re just letting money slip right through your fingertips.

The purpose of this article has been to present the case for why exploring online marketing strategies is key to allowing you to connect with local prospects consistently.

As you study online marketing, you will quickly discover there are a number of different methods of online marketing available to you and each can be effective in the right situation. One important thing to remember is that while online marketing is essential, that doesn’t mean every type of online marketing has a place with every local business. It also doesn’t mean that online marketing should become your only marketing channel.

A properly designed online marketing strategy needs to fit within the context of your overall business marketing strategy and plan.

In Summary

As a local business owner, I understand that it can be very frustrating trying to decide which online marketing strategies to use when you don’t particularly understand them well … and when you have a hundred other things to do.

While some business owners avoid Internet marketing altogether simply because they don’t understand it, the fact that you’ve read this far means you know that isn’t a solution.

Some other business owners don’t want to use online marketing because they don’t believe it’s effective (even though they’ve never looked at the results). Others avoid it because they’ve been burned before by their “web guy”. Some don’t think it’s worth the money.

Yet, none of these reasons are good enough to ignore what the local consumers Internet usage trends are clearly demonstrating.

However, each of these reasons highlight why it is important to leverage a professional online marketing and local Internet marketing specialist. A professional online marketing consultant will help assess your business and create an integrated marketing plan that is customized to your business, so that you don’t miss out on the opportunities that online marketing can bring you to attract new customers and generate a stable stream of new business.