Making the Most of Your Local Search Marketing Dollars

As the financial world imploded last week (my 401k is now a 200.5k), I sat in Florida at my company’s client summit listening to industry experts and national advertisers trading best practices and tactics for prospering in an increasingly complex local media world.

The keynote presentation by Kevin Ryan, “Then, Now and Next,” shared an unvarnished view of the search engine world that rocked the house. Now let me see if I can get this right: universal search begat blended search, that when combined with collective interest becomes social search, and if it has a geo-modifier it becomes local search.

It was a rollercoaster ride that put a unique lens on the search industry and where it’s headed. It was truly enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

How Do I Reach My Customers?

Clients often ask where they should spend their marketing dollars: online or offline, search or display? The problem with these questions: they assume there’s one or only a few sources for all local sales leads.

The question isn’t “either/or,” it’s about how much of each. Just like a diversified investment portfolio, marketers need to spread their investments across many channels and then manage the portfolio to the desired metrics. It’s about allocation and optimization.

Research is always beneficial in guiding the initial investment that is then refined and optimized. Wave two of the TMP Directional Marketing/comScore Local Search Usage Study was released last week. The study measured where consumers turn to first when looking for local business information. The primary resources used were:

  • Search engines: 31 percent
  • Print yellow pages: 30 percent
  • Internet yellow pages: 19 percent
  • Local search: 11 percent
  • Newspapers/magazines: 3 percent
  • Directory assistance: 2 percent
  • Cell phone/wireless device: 1 percent
  • Social networking sites: 1 percent

It’s no surprise that search engines were at the top of this list. However, because the question is framed by “first thing you use,” I’m reminded by comScore to not assume the above numbers represent the total percentage usage of the platform. It merely represents first choice. We live in a multi-modal world and use several options when seeking out local purchase sources.

Search engines are a great tool for researching subjects and purchases. However, it’s interesting that consumers use both online and offline sources. This illustrates that consumers are using many different options and aren’t confined to only online media or offline media alone.

A good example of this duality is in a recent CRM Associates study, which found that about 6 percent of consumers who sought out a heading in the print yellow pages (offline) also looked at that same heading on the IYPs (online). Conversely, 20 percent of those who sought out a heading in the IYPs also looked at that same heading in the print yellow pages. This reinforces that advertising consideration shouldn’t be “either/or” as advertisers not represented in both the offline and online would miss out on 94 percent or 80 percent of the buy audience by choosing a single media platform.

Mobile Revolution, Take 6

OK, I know we’ve all heard that mobile is the next big thing. I think I’ve been hearing that mobile would be the next big thing every year since 2004.

I’ll go out on a limb here and project that we’ll see the first real growth sign in 2009. But it won’t be as a result of on-device or browser-based search on the mobile device. Instead it will be from voice search.

According to Nielsen Mobile, 411 directory assistance was the most popular mobile search format used among mobile users at the end of last year. Additionally, the TMPDM/comScore study found that 20 percent of consumers with standard cell phones and 60 percent of consumers with Web-enabled phones have conducted local search on their mobile devices.

Part of this mobile revolution is ad-supported directory assistance or voice search. One of the reasons that directory assistance usage is on the rise is that it’s the easiest way for mobile phone users to find local business information while they’re away from their computer.

There’s no need to have a sophisticated phone, such as a smartphone, to use it. According to V-Enable and LocalMobileSearch, 77 percent of consumers who use directory assistance via mobile phone, use it while they’re away from home.

One such ad-supported DA service, 1-800 FREE411, now has more than 20 million calls each month. This allows marketers to reach consumers using their computer at home as well as those who are constantly on the go. And honestly, who isn’t?

Think Horizontally, Execute Vertically

Local search continues to offer national and local advertisers the ability to connect with consumers who are ready to buy. The best campaigns are comprehensive programs allocated across a variety of media properties. IYPs, local search sites (e.g. CitySearch) and the search engines provide the best cost per lead and volume of leads.

Join us for a Search Engine Marketing Training in Boston, November 6 at the Hilton Boston Back Bay. Not only will you walk away with the knowledge and skills to be a successful search engine marketer, you’ll also jumpstart your career and enhance your professional know-how.

Related reading

facebook is a local search engine. Are you treating it like one?
SEO tips tools guides 2018
5 schema markups for local SEO