Brightlocal recently updated their annual SMB marketing focus survey, and we had a chance to read their conclusions. This survey is particularly interesting because they talk with a significant number of SMBs to generate the results.
Their conclusions were crystal clear: local search is where the action is at, and the lowest ROI was from display and Bing ads. Let’s review their results:
- Where are local businesses/Marketing agencies spending their time? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the new shiny object. Everybody wants to be #1 in organic search results. One of the main drivers for this is the large increase in mobile search and “near me” searches. The most powerful type of search is “intent based” – when a user asks a question where the answer is provided by a local business. We believe this will continue to grow as the conversion rate of intent based searches turning into sales is exponentially higher than a display ad.
- What is the role of Social Media? There is a lot of “fear of missing out” here. The survey concluded that a lot of people use social media simply because they see other people doing it and figure they better be there too. The problem with this approach is that social media is something that requires consistent effort to be effective. And what works for large brands and certain verticals (e.g. restaurants) is likely not going to work the same for other verticals (such as contracting services, legal, and professional services).
- Where do quality leads come from? I found this conclusion fairly surprising, as Brightlocal held that social media leads were lower quality than most other forms of leads. With all the talk of the effectiveness of Facebook dark posts, I would have thought Facebook would be the exception. For hyperlocal businesses, it makes total sense that Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, (except for restaurants), are fairly useless. We’d be interested to see a deeper dive on this particular area to focus on the ROI of Facebook ads.
- Are phone calls are still important? They still make up a large percentage of inbound leads, and over 40% of these calls come from Local or Organic search. With that said, 40% of website hits also come from Local or Organic search. Once again, SEO rules!
- What works best? When SMBs were asked to pick their most effective marketing channel, 62% chose either Local or Organic Search. Only 19% chose Google Adwords, and rounding out the top 4 was Email Marketing at 9%. Those 4 items make up 90% of all answers – we were interested (and thrilled) to see that nearly 75% of all respondents picked an engagement strategy vs. advertising!
The trend is clear and is matches what we are seeing as well – engagement strategies and efforts to promote organic search results are a top priority. The next step in this effort is to poll these same businesses to identify the top strategies to enable/improve Organic and Local Search.