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Local Searchers Head to Store More

Telephone contact No. 1 post-search activity

October 23, 2009

Nearly four in 10 US Internet users (37%) who conducted an online local business search in 2009 ended up visiting the store in person, according to TMP Directional Marketing and comScore.

That statistic was up 5 percentage points over the prior year. Users of local search engines, at 46%, were most likely to head to the store after finding a local business.

Primary Goal of a Local Business Online Search According to US Internet Users, by Search Channel, July 2009 (% of respondents)

Even more local searchers contacted the business on the telephone after finding it online. Internet yellow pages users phoned stores at the highest rate.

2009 is the third year TMP has conducted the local search study, and compared with 2007, in-store purchases following local online searches have dropped. Still, more than one-half of searchers made a purchase either in person, on the phone or over the Web after finding a local business.

Behavior of US Internet Users as a Result of Conducting a Local Business Online Search, by Search Channel, 2008 & 2009 (% of respondents)

For most business categories, local searchers used general search engines rather than more specialized local search sites or online yellow pages. Local search engines were biggest for users looking for child care and hotels, while nearly one-half of home services searchers used Internet yellow pages.

Mobile users are taking advantage of ever more sophisticated handsets to get important local info wherever they are. They were significantly more likely to access mobile content in 2009 compared with the prior year, up 40%. That includes a 127% increase in subscribers using mobile apps to get local info, as well as a 27% increase in users looking up local data via SMS.

“Buyers use numerous channels at different times and for different reasons,” said Gregg Stewart, president of TMPDM’s full-service interactive division 15miles. “But the growing demand for local business information across interactive search platforms, especially online and mobile, is creating additional opportunities for national advertisers to reach consumers with more relevance. In order to reach target audiences, marketers must think locally and focus their messages on local marketplaces where consumers shop.”

Keep up on the latest digital trends. Learn more about an eMarketer Total Access subscription, today.

Check out today’s other article, “Coke Weighs in on Earned Media ROI.”

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