Commentary

Gaining Loyal Customers With Paid Search For Local

Paid search is considered a must have for most businesses and SMBs, but what may not be as evident is the depth and increasing importance that stems from paid-search advertising for local businesses on mobile.

There are two things all businesses rely on, especially small local businesses that will close down without generating enough sales: getting new clients and retaining existing ones.

Moments of Truth

The vast majority of searches that drive people to connect with a small business are “in the moment.” That means that a person needs something at that exact point in time, and time is of the essence. Whether a person needs to find a restaurant nearby because they are hungry or if someone needs a plumber in their town because their pipe burst, if a business is not one of the first listings online or if they are not there to answer the call, they have lost a customer.

With such an intensely needs-driven audience, local SMBs have the luxury of targeting a group of people who can become active clients almost immediately.

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For a bit more context, reportedly, 60% of all searches for restaurants by millennials are done within an hour of eating. If a restaurant doesn’t advertise online, they have denied their business countless visitors, and those visitors (if treated well) might  have become repeat customers and then (if repeatedly treated well) could have become positive influencers, encouraging their friends and family to visit the business as well.

Retention and Loyalty

If SMBs worried more about customer retention and loyalty than about getting new clients, more clients would come. It is the job of an SMB to offer the best service possible to every customer who walks through the door, in an attempt to encourage clients to become loyal influencers. It is the job of the agency or local reseller to worry about how to best optimize their paid-search strategies to get those initial clients through the door.

People use search to direct their lives in the moment. Saturday morning people search for nail salons, dry cleaners and car washes, and on Saturday night they look for restaurants, nightclubs and pizza delivery. On Sunday they look for brunch places, church services and so on.

Working with SMBs, it’s important to understand customer behavior in order to effectively target them online when needs are at their peak.

Advocacy Marketing

Once an SMB is noticed online, and they have treated their customers well enough to encourage them to return -- and to tell their friends -- that business has reached the realm of advocacy marketing.

Today, anyone can get their shop, restaurant or business online with paid search, and people are starting to realize this move. That’s why people give more weight and importance to asking friends and relatives’ advice, posting questions on Facebook or looking through social feeds, including review sites like Yelp to find a business they trust.

That implies that the most important thing is the service a customer receives while they are in-store, but to attract more clients and keep the cycle of loyal customers flowing, local paid search plays a crucial role initially.

What Not to Do

Reportedly, 94% of SMBs do not have a mobile presence. They simply don’t exist for that local or mobile customer searching for a place immediately to satisfy their need. If not having paid-search ads on mobile is bad, not having a mobile site at all is horrendous for a local business. As of April 21, with Google’s latest algorithm update, you can argue it is now an imperative.

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