Why mobile search is vital for your local business

Small businesses are missing out on sales because they are ‘invisible’ to smartphone users.

This is according to new research from T-Mobile, which found that some 46 per cent of small firms do not show up in mobile search results.

The research suggests that, while 42 per cent of small business owners use mobile search in order to find businesses themselves, just 10 per cent have taken steps to ensure that their own business is visible.

With 35 per cent of consumers now regularly using their phone to find businesses, mobile search has never been so important. With a few very simple steps you can boost your visibility on mobile – and boost your sales as a result.

Why bother with mobile?

Mobile is the next frontier in the fight for customers. Visibility is fundamental if you are to fulfil your business’s sales potential and, with web users going mobile, you need to ensure that you maximise your chances on this platform.

According to T-Mobile’s figures, some 35 per cent of consumers regularly use their mobile phone to find businesses. This represents a very significant chunk of your potential sales – and one that few businesses can afford to ignore.

But there are other potential benefits associated with mobile search. Primary amongst these is the ability to reach customers with a greater degree of accuracy. New targeting technologies mean that you have more control over who sees your marketing messages and when. The ability to target by location has significant implications for local businesses.

How do I make myself seen?

1. Sign up to Google Places…
Your first step should be to ensure that your business is listed on Google Places. Provided that your business has a mailing address, you can “claim your listing” on Places for free. You can add photographs and your opening hours, along with a description of your business. Your listing will then appear on Google Maps, which remains the most important site and app for mobile consumers.
2. …but don’t forget the competition
It can be easy to focus on Google to the exclusion of all other services. But, if you want to maximise your visibility, you need to consider as broad a range of options as possible. You should ensure, for example, that your business is also listed on Bing Places – another free listings service, this time from Microsoft. You can do this through the Bing Business Portal.
3. Consider local ad targeting
Online advertising offers business owners the opportunity to target their messages with unprecedented accuracy. Try experimenting with the targeting technologies on Google Ads. You can stipulate that users in specific geographical areas only see specific messages – unlocking a series of potential new marketing possibilities.
4. Breach the online-offline divide
Finally, take some time to consider how your offline marketing interacts with your online efforts. Can you link the two? An increasing number of businesses are, for example, experimenting with QR codes. You might think about adding these to your printed marketing materials, particularly when they are positioned close to your premises, and having the code link directly to your site or to your listing on a service like Google Maps.

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