Brand marketers have started to catch up with consumers on mobile, but small businesses still remain far behind — and it may be starting to affect their bottom line. A new study from Neustar Localeze and 15miles finds that consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to search for local businesses when they are ready to buy, but the information they want is often inaccurate, incomplete, or non-existent.
The findings: 79 percent of smartphone owners and 81 percent of tablet owners use their devices to search for information on local businesses. Approximately 80 percent of those mobile searches result in the purchase of a product or service, and 75 percent brought the customer into the physical store. But only 50 percent of those searchers were satisfied with what was available to them via mobile, as buried information and non-mobile-friendly websites proved to be hindrances.
Brian Wool, VP of content distribution at Neustar Localeze, told Street Fight that the contradiction between SMBs’ widespread lack of mobile savvy and the increasing use of smartphones and tablets to access search platforms results in poorer overall user experience. He says that the findings highlight the need for businesses to optimize their mobile web presence, and ensure that they provide the content which mobile searchers want.
“Consumers want to see more information around products and services,” Wool said. “What has really spiked, though, is hours of operation. We’re starting to see more of that specific information, and local search engines are starting to use that type of data as a relevancy indicator.”
The smaller screen of a mobile devices means that it’s critical for businesses to prioritize the content that searchers want most. Mobile versatility could come in the form of a mobile-specific website, or a responsive PC website — but regardless of the avenue, this basic information would need to be explicit for the search satisfaction rate to improve.
Not addressed in the study, but of importance in understanding the emerging prominence of mobile search, is the creation of localized mobile websites by national corporations for their brick-and-mortar stores. Wool used Home Depot as an example, saying he may prefer to go to his local home improvement store, but Home Depot’s mobile site — and its user friendliness — would influence his ultimate purchasing decision. With specialized corporate websites as competition, Wool said the motivation for SMBs to adopt a mobile approach should be strong.
Local search is becoming as diversified as the devices used to access it, and if SMBs don’t prepare accordingly, they could find themselves pushed out of contention. But Wool said going mobile is by no means a disruption of what businesses already do — or should be doing.
“Content is still king, and that will continue to be true,” says Wool. “With this information, you can take control of your business identity in the local search marketplace. The more you can share with the ecosystem, the better your listing is going to perform.”
Annie Melton is a reporter at Street Fight.