From Site to Store: How Are Your Customers Finding You?

digital marketing, digital, mobile, mobile marketing, search, search marketing, customers, site to store, customer journey, "ZigZag" customer journey

Do your local customers find you through mobile searches, Facebook, Yelp, online directories, or search engines? Most likely, they find you through a combination of searches and apps — and to win their business, your online presence must provide what they need, regardless of how they got to you.

No longer can businesses count on getting most of their customers through the phone directory or even a general search engine. Today’s consumers “zigzag” between devices, platforms, and locations to discover products and services and make purchase decisions, as highlighted in a research study we recently conducted in partnership with IDC.

Rather than simply focusing on identifying where consumers start their journey, businesses must be mindful of how the consumer journey unfolds from that starting point. Once your brand appears in a search, are you providing the information the consumer needs to help him or her choose to do business with you? Google research shows that 50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, along with 34 percent who searched on computer or tablet.

Here are three things searchers look for when they make decisions about where to conduct business locally.

  1. The right content
    More than half of local searchers surveyed (in the IDC study) agreed on the importance of viewing content related to the products or services for which they are searching. But because different people rely on different types of content, providing variety is key. For instance, blog posts including commonly used search terms can reach consumers and draw traffic to your website. Photos and product descriptions can help visitors get a better understanding of what you have to offer. Price lists and resource guides allow searchers to compare similar products in order to see what they can get for their money.It’s also important to show potential customers what you’re about as well – 78 percent of searchers in the IDC study said that images are a must. More than half also want to read information about the products and compare prices online. And don’t discount the value of others’ opinions: 49 percent of searchers say they never buy without checking reviews online.
  1. Mobile access 
    When consumers are in search for a particular product or service, they “zigzag” back and forth between devices, platforms, and the online and offline worlds as they make that purchase decision.

    In fact, 36 percent of respondents searched for local products from two or more devices – including smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, and desktop computers – while 35 percent searched from two or more locations before making a purchase. Across the board, smartphones were reported to be the most heavily used device by consumers searching for local products.

    If your information isn’t readily available and presented in a mobile-friendly way, mobile searchers are likely to move on to a competitor whose information is. In fact, 40 percent of mobile users turn to a competitor’s website after a bad mobile web experience, according to a recent YP webinar, “The Fundamentals of Mobile Marketing.” Don’t risk it. Build a website using a program that is functional across multiple devices, make the site engaging with maximum functionality, and keep the design simple and easy to navigate.

  1. Offline service
    While many customers are increasingly finding local products and services online, they still continue to shop locally because they want (and expect) that personal touch. IDC found that 66 percent of consumers followed their online search with an offline activity, such as contacting a business directly, asking for a referral from a friend, looking at flyers or other printed material, or using a phone book. It’s imperative that, in addition to a robust online presence, every local business must keep their brick and mortar experience operating like a well-oiled machine. If you’ve ever been pleasantly surprised to call a business and get the voice of a real, live person on the other end, you understand how important personal service can be. Even in this digital age, companies that provide “above and beyond” offline service are those that will win customers for the long-term.

Photo Credit: HELP Media AG via Compfight cc

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