Both retailers and consumers love local search, and there’s new evidence to prove it. According to new data released by Google, the amount of “near me” searches has surged 34 times what it was in 2011, and has almost doubled since last year.
“Consumers aren’t just getting information, they’re making decisions and often heading straight to stores,” Matt Lawson, Google’s Director of Marketing, Performance Ads, said in a post for the company.
Some of the findings, though, were predictable, gelling with what past research has discovered. Past studies have discovered that 65-70% of consumers visit a store after seeing a local search ad online. The new study found that about half of consumers visit a store within a day of doing a local search, and 18% of those searches lead to a purchase that same day. Unless the search is done to help them decide on a place to eat, that is, in which case they’ll visit the business within one hour of their search.
Perhaps the most interesting thing the new data revealed is another important facet of local search marketing: its competitiveness. Not only are local search consumers a high-value audience — thanks to the immediacy with which they respond to local searches — but they also don’t pledge loyalty to one brand.
Virtually none of the top “near me” searches were for a specific company, just a specific product or service. On Saturday mornings, people are searching for “restaurants near me,” “movie theaters near me,” or “car wash near me.” On Sunday mornings, they’re looking for “Catholic churches near me,” “breakfast near me,” or “gas station near me.” They’re not looking for a Domino’s Pizza — just a slice of ‘roni — which means that small- and medium-sized businesses can compete with the big chains.
“Whether you’re a small business or global brand, you need to deliver on needs in these moments,” Lawson wrote. “Those who stay centered on the consumer’s context and intent in the moment will not only deliver on needs, they’ll also seamlessly advance the consumer journey and build brand preference along the way.”