When is the last time you used a phonebook? More specifically, when is the last time you used a phone book for its intended purpose? This does not include a booster seat for your kids, to prop open a door or as kindling in a fire (don’t try this; it doesn’t work). I want to know the last time you thought to yourself, “I need to find a plumber/restaurant/attorney/dentist, let me just whip out my phone book and flip to the yellow pages for that.” If you’re telling me it was recently, I’m calling shenanigans.
In reality, today’s consumer is using a different tool to find local businesses. This tool is called the Internet and it’s not going anywhere.
- 97% of consumers in the U.S. use the Internet when researching products or services in their local area, reports the Kelsey Group.
- The MIT Technology Review shows that “for every one dollar U.S. consumers spend online, another five or six are going to offline purchases that are influenced by online research.”
So remind me again the last time you used a phonebook. If it’s not in recent memory, clearly you’re not alone.
These statistics reveal a deeper issue that affects any business that wants to reach nearly 100% of consumers: local online research is replacing phone book research so Local Search Marketing should replace phone book marketing. This trend has been growing for several years and Google is taking notice. The major search engine has blended local and organic search to help queries with a “geo-modifier” return more accurate results. If you’ve ever searched for something like “Mechanic in Cedar Falls, Iowa” and seen the map and directory listings, you’ve benefited from Local Search Marketing. It looks like this:
As you can see, these local results appear at the very top of your search results. Consider how often you click over to the second or third page of your Google results; right at the top is where you want to be. Local search marketing allows you to control and optimize your listing and actually track the results. With this type of online marketing you can track:
- How many people are searching for you
- How many people are coming to your website (and what search terms got them there)
- How long they’re staying on your website
- How many people call you based on the traffic source
Yellowbook, a popular phone book, doesn’t even provide metrics for their print specialty ads, display ads, in-column ads or listings. It’s likely that they provide the same “measurement” as most traditional advertising methods:
- Number of people who get the phonebook
- Demographics of their phonebook subscribers
- Reach, frequency and impressions
What do these things mean? Sure, they tell you how many people could be exposed to your ad, but as we’ve already established, just because people receive the phonebook, doesn’t mean they’re using it. With Local Search Marketing, you can measure how many people are clicking on your listings, which contributes to calculating the ROI. This hard data will help you win sales and leads in a more efficient manner.
Local Search Marketing is an extremely powerful, effective and measurable way to reach your local audience. It’s quickly replacing phonebook marketing and it’s easy to see why. Take a look at what your company is spending on your phonebook ad or listing and consider if that money may be better spent online.
What do you think of this trend? Have you considered marketing online? What kind of value do you see in your phonebook marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!