Share this post!www.internetworldstats.com, 273 million of these people use the internet. Another way to look at it is that use of the internet is a regular feature in nearly 79% of North American households.
This means that your prime public – families and individuals who need your products or services – are on the internet.
Another interesting statistic in this area is the fact that between 2000 and 2012, the number of people utilizing the internet grew 153% (it was only 108 million in 2000).
Sure, some people still ask around when they are looking for a product or service they need but more and more, people are looking on the internet. Pizza restaurants, tire services, healthcare services, salons, movie theaters, dry cleaners… most people start now by looking on the internet. One report stated that 88% of people who searched for a local business then called or visited that business within 24 hours.
When Location is Critical
You’ll notice that these (and many other) businesses are location-critical. People will only drive so far to get their tires replaced. Maybe someone only wants to drive five miles to ten miles at the most. He’s going to want a local tire business.
He can go to Bing, Google or Foursquare.com and do a search for tire companies. Foursquare started out as a social networking application that people used to share the fact that they were visiting a particular business with their friends. It progressed on to become a search function for businesses, with an emphasis on ratings and comments from earlier visitors.
For the purpose of education, I’ll do a search on Foursquare for a tire shop in Dunedin. When I look at my Foursquare results for tire stores in Dunedin, I get a map with about twenty markers. If I click on one near my imaginary home, I have a Foursquare page on this business that includes their address, hours, description of the services they provide. I can even sign into Facebook right from this list and “see which of my friends have been to XXX tire store.” Oh yeah, and there’s reviews.
Reviews are an important part of the whole local search function. You can find the vendor you want and then see what people have said about him. This is the Brave New World of internet search results. If you haven’t done it yet, you should look up your competitors and see what people are saying about them.
You Have an Image Now – Good or Bad
If you have a business that relies on local traffic, this is something you should be looking at. Whether you realize it or not, you have an image in the online world RIGHT NOW. If you don’t groom that image and take care of it, it may not represent you very well. In the old days, people who didn’t like your site would complain to the Better Business Bureau. Now, they just have to fire up the laptop and type their complaint into Yelp.com, Foursquare, even Facebook.
It’s now an important promotional action to actively groom and maintain a positive image in all these virtual locations. Just remember that statistic from earlier in this post about the overwhelming number of people who searched for a business and then called or visited. You’re probably doing this yourself. But, maintaining this image takes constant work and many repetitive actions that need to be done every month. If you don’t have the time for it, or don’t know what to do, you should look in to having it done for you. This is well spent marketing money, and often times give a much better return on investment than spending on traditional media.