People are going online to find information about you and your business. It’s the reality of commerce today. While some businesses can survive simply on an established reputation and strong referral network, digital marketing is a necessity for new businesses and those looking for faster growth.
Most businesses focus on Google and Facebook, and for good reason. Referred to as the “duopoly” of digital marketing, the two captured roughly 60% of all digital advertising spend in 2018. It’s simply a function of reach and frequency of use. Google receives roughly 5.6 billion searches per day and on average each of the 2.32 billion Facebook users spends about 41 minutes per day on the platform.
That’s the 10,000-foot view of just how much these tools have transformed our day-to-day experiences. When we look closer at how this activity is impacting commerce and how we make purchases decisions, the impact is profound.
A new survey from the Local Search Association looked at how people utilize online and offline channels to find local business information. The sample consisted of over 4,000 U.S. adults who were screened to match the general U.S. population. The survey reviewed consumer use of 13 channels including newspapers, coupons, search engines, review sites, websites, mobile apps, social networks and more.
The study found that 91% of respondents said they used a search engine to find local business information which was the most of all 13 channels analyzed. Additionally, 76% said they used a social media channel to do the same. The search engine stat is fairly expected, but the impact of social channels is compelling.
We’re seeing this in practice with one of our clients. Facebook is helping us drive key metrics like new customers and phone calls. The social nature of the channel allows us to bring more authenticity and personality to the content, making for more locally engaging and interesting material. In other words, Facebook is where we can help our client be part of the local community and engage with customers and the results are validating.
When we look closer at what consumers do after using social channels (see above), we see that the majority (40%) visited a business in-person, 31% called and 29% visited a website. Let’s break these numbers down a bit further:
40% Visited In-Person: The majority of purchases, roughly 80-90%, still take place in-store. Think about your day-to-day purchases (food, gas, groceries, etc.). These, for the most part, are purchases that happen offline, but clearly online channels like social media are influencing where these purchases ultimately take place.
31% Called: This is a different type of purchase. Likely not a regular purchase, but something that requires a bit of discussion, maybe setting an appointment, discussing your personal needs or getting answers to questions. These are likely purchases that require a bit more consideration.
29% Visited Website: This figure is interesting because while 71% took an immediate action after reviewing a business on a social channel, another 29% wasn’t convinced. This is important because there are some small businesses who have built a Facebook Business Page instead of having a website and those without websites may be missing out on the 29% who go to websites before contacting the business.
The takeaway here is that social media, primarily Facebook, is having a real impact on key metrics for small businesses. From phone calls to store visits to website visits, it’s critical to have a social presence. But a presence on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter is just the beginning. The real difference maker is the quality of content you post there, supplemented by a reasonable advertising spend, with a focus on the channels that make sense for you, your business, your industry and your audience.
If you’re looking for support with your social media strategy, check out our social media marketing services. Contact us if you have any questions or need a partner to help.
Joe is the owner and chief digital marketer at Rithm Marketing. He has been building websites and executing digital marketing strategies for about 10 years. Previously Joe was an analyst and director of marketing for a prominent digital marketing trade association.