Google is the king of Local. They are very smart, so one must presume that they knew what they were doing when they went to all the effort to build 50 million free websites for all the known businesses around the world. If your business has been operating for at least a few months, you probably have a Google Local listing. It doesn't really replace the need for a full-fledged website, but it is easily search-able and it lists your address, phone number, website, and any reviews that are out there in cyberspace from various sources. The amazing thing about your Google Local page is that it recognizes when someone is searching with a smart phone and it automatically arranges itself to fit nicely into the smaller space.
Right now it doesn't matter much where your listing is located or how well optimized it is. But it will matter very soon. As more and more businesses get on board with Local Internet Marketing, and Mobile Marketing, the competition will heat up. What is driving this furious activity? It all boils down to smart phones. Currently only about 10% of all cell phone owners have smart phones, but that number is expected to sky rocket to 90% by the end of 2012. And with this increase in the use of smart phones will come a huge shift in local searches from desk top and lap top computers to smart phones. The average consumer will be able to search for his or her products and services on the go from almost anywhere.
So it is important for business owners to take this trend seriously. Ideally a business owner would have the necessary skills to optimize their web presence, but most would prefer to tend to their area of expertise and turn over the internet marketing to professionals. That's where we come in.
What we do seems miraculous to most business owners; we can take an unclaimed Google Local page that is sitting 30 or 40 listings down, dress it up with photos, citations, reviews, and even videos, and then usually get that Local page to move up in rank to the top seven listings!
This in itself is worth a lot; in a densely populated area a move like this can result in a 20% increase in phone calls and foot traffic. But we can do much more. Additional services are available, such as creating signs with QR codes; customers with smart phones and the right application will be able to take a picture of that QR code and link directly to a coupon that they can use right from their smart phone—no need to print and clip!
We can also create signs that invite customers to text a message to a certain number, which gets them opted in to a list so they can receive specials and coupons. The open-up rate for text messages is at about 95%, which is huge.
Here's an example of how this could be used: a local restaurant is having a slow night, so the owner sends out a text message to his/her list that says “25% off of your next meal, including your entire party! Good only for the next three hours.” A person reads that and says, “hey let's go out to eat tonight!” Suddenly that restaurant is filled up with customers.
What does this mean to the small business owner? Simply this: those who position themselves now to engage these next-generation consumers will dominate.