According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are currently 28 million small businesses in the United States, which account for 54% of all sales in the U.S. Since the dot com boom the way American’s live their lives has drastically changed (U.S. Small Business Administration). Everything we do from streaming video and music, shop for products and communicate drastically changed.
The unforeseen impact to retailers has been a substantial in what some people are calling the “retail apocalypse” (Durden). At the end of 2015, more than 46 major retailers have announced their plans to close more than 6,000 stores across the United States (Farfan). Though this may seem detrimental to the local economy, there is an opportunity for local business to attract new customers to their stores.
In 2015, the tech-savvy Millennial Generation, know as Generation Y, gained the majority market share of purchasing power in the United States (Wired). Millennials are the biggest generation in US History far exceeding Baby Boomers by more than 15-million people (Goldman Sachs). Gen Y is using the internet and social media to find products and services and engage with businesses online.
Google launched its search engine platform in September of 1998. At that time, they processed approximately 10,000 searches per day. Fast forward 17 years later, Google now processes more than 100 billion searches per month (Live Internet Stats).
Of the 100 billion queries monthly, 7 billion of those searches have local intent (MOZ). Meaning, the consumer is using Google specifically looking for products and services within their immediate area.
Local business can capitalize on search queries with local intent, by ensuring they have a strong online presence, which is known as “Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”. Local SEO is a marketing tactic that ensures Search Engines can find you and your information, understand and process it easily (Ratcliff). More importantly, it’s having the right information, in the right places online, so search engines can present your business as a relevant result to the end user.
Smart phone technology has given consumers the ability to find on-demand information they seek regardless of where they are. Google’s “Think Insights” team published a report in 2013 highlighting Smartphone trends in relation to consumers purchasing habits. Below is a summary of key indicators that work in favor of local business:
- Mobile users who visit a businesses website are 6 times more likely to make a purchase (Google).
- 55% of consumers who research using a mobile phone, want to make a purchase within an hour (Google).
- 83% want to purchase within the same day (Google).
- 69% of consumers are looking for businesses within a 5-mile radius of their location (Google).
- 82% of consumers who used a smartphone to locate a business or find information on products or services made an in-store purchase (Google).
With Generation Y now being the majority market share of purchasing power, local business needs to reconsider how to better target this demographic. As stated in the Goldman Sachs Data Story report, Gen Y uses the internet and social media to get their information and share information on products and services.
In the same report, Goldman Sachs asked the question “After searching online, how do you communicate with others about a service, product or brand?”. More than 70% of the Millennials surveyed said they use social media as their platform of choice (Goldman Sachs). This means local business must be online to join the conversation.
62% of Millennial consumers want to engage with businesses via social networks (Schawbel). If a local business does not incorporate digital marketing into their marketing mix, they will be virtually invisible to potential customers. Not utilizing social media, will mean local business are not connecting with the community, leaving them out of site and out of mind.
In addition to social media engagement, online review sites are extremely impactful in the purchasing decision making process. Word-of-mouth referrals are the greatest way businesses can gain new customers. But the definition of word-of mouth is no longer vocal; its digital. 70% of consumers trust online reviews as much as traditional word-of-mouth referral’s from relative or friend (Tagrin).
In this digital and social age, a local business must have a website, established profiles on review sites such as Yelp.com and use Social Media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to develop positive relationships with customers.
Its no secret, that consumers use the internet and social media more so than ever to make decisions on what to buy and where to get it. Local Business must rethink their marketing mix and invest in digital marketing to engage their targeted audience and reach potential customers.
So what does all this mean for local business? Bottom line, local business must cultivate a strong identity across all things digital. If they are not online engaging with the community, they are losing business. Not capitalizing on this digital and social media age will prove to be detrimental for local business, as customers will be driven to other local business and online competitors.
by: Danielle Wasem
Founder, GingerBranded Marketing
GingerBranded Marketing provides local businesses an easy and effective way to grow their business by developing positive and authentic customer relationships through the use of strategic digital and social marketing.