We are all in the midst of a wonderful transition in business right now, which is being driven heavily by technology. Just think about how we communicate now. Remember life before smarthphones, let alone good ol’ fashioned flip phones? As kids we all memorized our best friend’s phone number. Now, we just ask our digital personal assistant a la Siri or Google Now, or at the very least with a flick of the thumb, push, and go.
Flick of the thumb, push, and go. This is our world.
This is our world as CEOs, Business Owners, Doctors, Employees, Assistants, Mothers, Brothers, Students…Consumers. Business as Usual has changed, and there is a new norm, and before we know it, it will change again.
When it comes to your business, wherever you fit into the equation, there are things you must know (yes, must know) and once you know, there is action to take (because we can’t just flick the thumb, push and go on these…not yet at least).
1. We all search for things on the Internet
90% of consumers use search engines to research future purchase decisions. And, the top three results on Google get over 58% of all clicks from users. We’re also doing a lot more of it away from our computers: According to Google, mobile search queries nearly doubled over the holiday season.
Search ads don’t cost anything, clicks on them do…and if someone clicks on one of those ads, they usually need or want something…now. Plus, those clicks are usually pretty damn cheap!
Ad space on searches is also pushing those natural organic links further down the page. Try it. Search something like “local plumbers” on a mobile browser on your phone right now. You might see something like this below- two sponsored links and then part of one organic link or map listing on your entire screen?
The new norm is knowing that paid search is one of the quickest ways to drum up new qualified business. The new norm is also knowing how to do paid search smarter. Anybody can measure visits to a site, but it’s more important to understand what happens with those visits – are they calling you, generating sales? And then, allow a system to optimize around those actions.
2. We know we are being followed on the web…and we’re okay with it
Ads pay for a lot, and they pay for all the beautiful things you get access to at your fingertips. We know ads exist, we ignore some and we click on some. We’re now at a place, though, where we can accept that there will be ads based upon our web behavior, and dare I say it, yes, actually be served ads that can benefit us (watch this video). We expect this as the new norm. In fact, 1/3 of consumers favor ads relevant to them.
3. Online reputation is important
Quick, Google yourself right now. What happens? What happens if you Google the business you work for or operate? We as consumers only care about the winners. To be a winner, you need to be on top and have people say good things about you, and yes, we can all see through those fake reviews someone writes about their restaurant, their car dealership or their app. Cut it out, we’re all onto you and it doesn’t help.
According to a recent study by two Economists from the University of California, Berkeley, found that an extra half-star rating, on a scale of 1 to 5, causes restaurants to sell out 49% more frequently.
Like it or not, we as consumers, for the most part, choose the popular crowd…the popular crowd that has earned the right to be popular, not those posing to be popular. This is the new norm.
4. Facebook (and Twitter, and YouTube…) matters
American Internet users spend more time on Facebook than any other site, and 27% of local consumers have recommended a local business via Facebook. Read this excellent guide about all social media from 2012 put out by Nielsen.
“I don’t use (or understand) Facebook” is not the norm. Regardless if you like, post, tweet, share or not, a lot of people do, and people and businesses who can get others to take these actions get to join the popular crowd. Rewards await the new norm.
5. (Good) content is king
A consumer can interact with your business without even having to visit your site. They have Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Groupon, YouTube, Tumblr and much more.
See them over there, that’s the popular crowd having a conversation about all the good things they’re up to. Where’s your business…on the bench, on the couch, MIA? To prove your value, you need to talk about it and prove you actually know what you’re talking about (and selling).
A study from nRelate, an Ask.com company, conducted by Harris Interactive found that Americans want to explore contextual information. Some 92% of U.S. adults read content online, spending more than seven hours per week looking for content. Americans read three to four articles per session and watch two to three videos per session, on average. Nearly half of online consumers say that after reading an article, they are more likely to click on related content.
The new norm means you can’t just rely on a static web site to get people to come to it. You have to generate content people want and prove to search engines like Google that you are a local authority in your industry.
6. Transparency is expected
“Spray and pray” no more. There is a high level of transparency in our daily lives that has also translated into the technology we adopt for our businesses.
Rolling out a new payment system that incorporates iPads is done to shave costs and produce ROI. Automation systems increase productivity. Marketing your business online is designed to show tangible results. "Top performing organizations use analytics to turn customer data into actionable insights." -IBM
Knowing that it cost $5.65 to acquire Suzy Smith as a new customer, and that netted you a profit of $565 is the new norm. Anything else is waste (yes, an inefficient waste of your money).
7. You must be able to identify with the customer
Nothing new here- when someone does business with you, you should always go above and beyond to ensure they feel unique and will be with you for life (or as long as it makes sense). There are numerous examples of superior customer service out there (be sure to read these 10 examples).
If your customers want to pay with a credit card when you the plumber just fixed their overflowing toilet, well whip out your iPad, attach your Square reader, and get it done. They’ll appreciate it and no waiting for payment for you. This is the new norm, and similar to what Kayak has done for air travel or OpenTable has done for booking restaurant reservations, we will soon be able to schedule a plumber, house cleaner, you-name-it via an app and know we’re getting a top rated professional at the best local rate. In fact it already exists in Dallas.
8. You can have it all
The days of having to do it yourself are long gone. The days of having to rely on your college student daughter managing your Facebook, your front desk assistant running your search advertising and answering the phones, and your brother-in-law down the street designing web collateral are over.
The new norm is working with a local consultant well-versed in this arena, while being backed by a very sharp team, amazing technology, the strength of a large, leading company, and the ability to be efficient with your current marketing budget.
This is where this post ends and our conversation begins.
Join the new norm. Contact me or call: (941) 735-3600.
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Sources: BIA/Kelsey & ConStat, Optify, BrightLocal, Lightspeed Research, Nielsen, ReachLocal. Photo courtesy of Consciousness on Demand.