Consumers are searching for local business and services across the Internet nearly every day. In fact, an immr/YP study on "How Consumers Are Using Local Search" found that four in 10 individuals use local search once a day, while two-thirds use local search at least three to four times per week.
The adoption of mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets, is a big contributor to the increase in local searches, but has also contributed to the change in local search behavior. As a result, a market that was fairly dominated by search engines and directories is now becoming fragmented into a multitude of specialized sites and apps.
What are the reasons behind this shift?
The use of mobile applications has trained consumers to launch specific apps that directly meet their needs, whether that is looking up the weather in their hometown, catching up on regional news, or making a dinner reservation in the neighborhood.
This fragmentation means that it is more important than ever for marketers to build local listing management into their marketing strategy. Local and search may be an ideal match, but it takes savvy to take full advantage of their coupling.
Toward that end, here are three things marketers should be doing to meet the local search shift head-on:
While the local search ecosystem continues to grow, industry stakeholders are coming together to identify where challenges may exist and find areas for simplification. However, if there is anything we have learned from mobile, it is not to wait for this to happen. Don't sit on your hands. Consumers are actively taking matters into their own hands - or thumbs, as it were. Businesses need local search strategies now. To assist, the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Local Committee just released a Local Search white paper to offer guidance. But just reading it won't be enough to move the local needle. Action is required.
It is time to find out where consumers are searching for your business, especially on mobile, where they are more likely to complete a purchase. Continually monitor your listings for coverage and accuracy to make sure the information consumers are looking for (business hours, directions, etc.) is provided and accurate. And overall, make it a priority to ensure your business is discoverable in local search, or you will miss out.
Mobile and local are like peanut butter and chocolate - a brilliant combination. I highly recommend having a taste!
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Anna Bager is vice president and general manager of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The Mobile Center, an independently funded and staffed unit inside the IAB, is charged with driving the growth of the mobile marketing, advertising, and media marketplace.
Prior to joining the IAB, Bager was heading business intelligence at Ericsson Multimedia and head of research at Ericsson's Business Consulting unit. Earlier, she was research and consulting manager for IDC EMEA.
March 19, 2014