Local SEOEverybody knows about the “always online” world we live in today, and the biggest driver of this is the mainstream adoption of smartphones. You can’t go outside without seeing a person on the sidewalk hunched over, staring at their phone.

But when people think of an online world they normally think of huge global companies like Amazon and Airbnb. What people often overlook is how this change has affected the landscape of local businesses. The truth is that the customer journey for local businesses has had a major shakeup in the last few years.

When we look at the various touchpoints, we can see exactly how today’s customer is in far more control than they used to be.

The old approach for local businesses would be to invest in traditional advertising like print and telemarketing, but these mediums no longer work for them. People looking for a local business today will simply Google what they’re looking for when they want it – when it’s most convenient for them, not anyone else.

Local SEO - SearchPersonal recommendations are no longer required. Today’s customers can now get the opinions of hundreds of people in seconds through online reviews, rather than getting just one person’s opinion.

The truth is customers today have access to more information than ever before. All of this is good for the customer as it makes their life far easier: most people these days don’t want a pushy salesperson, right? They want to do their own research online to learn as much as they can, then they’ll buy when they’re ready and fully educated.

Today, once a customer has reached out to you, they’re far further down the sales funnel than they would have been 15 years ago. Not only that, but if a business has a great online reputation then customers will be far easier to sell to and they’ll happily spend more with you.

Offline salesWhat’s interesting now is how online is actually driving offline sales. Even if a local business is recommended by a friend, today’s customers will still check out the business online before they contact them. One stat I find fascinating is that 78% of mobile local searches result in offline purchases.  So not investing in your online visibility is no longer an option for any businesses looking to grow their revenue.

high performing smbHigh-performing local businesses have figured out just how important investing in local search marketing actually is: a recent study by Google found that SMBs that are making the most use of online are 2.8 times more likely to enjoy revenue growth than those who do not.