Here’s how consumers will choose local businesses in 2020

by | Dec 10, 2019 | Marketing, Public Relations

According to new research of local search habits and the factors that most influence consumers’ decision to visit a store, digital marketing agency Ignite Visibility found that local searchers like positive reviews (but don’t love to leave them), still rely heavily on informative business descriptions, and prefer to communicate with businesses the old-fashioned way.

Some answers were unsurprising—yes, reviews matter. And yes, a high-quality website is crucial to bringing customers in the door—but others they didn’t quite see coming. For example, even with the rise of Yelp, TripAdvisor, and a myriad of other local review sites, many still rely on old standbys like Yahoo and White Pages when it comes to finding information and reviews on local businesses.

Here’s how consumers will choose local businesses in 2020

Similarly, despite advances in technology, traditional means of communication still hold strong: 66 percent of those surveyed prefer to call a business over any other means of communication, and when it comes to finding businesses online, the majority (59 percent) still prefer to use a desktop search over a mobile device or voice-enabled assistant.

“The results of this survey show us just how important it is for consumers to be able to connect to actual people, not bots or talking heads,” said John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility, in a news release. “Customers love the phone. It is important that this is still an option and that there’s a friendly rep on the other line. While we all like the idea and ease of appointment booking automation, don’t underestimate the effect of a friendly, knowledgeable service rep.”

Here’s how consumers will choose local businesses in 2020

Additionally, as most local marketers know, positive reviews still have the power to make or break a brand online—but searchers aren’t spending as much time on them as you think. While 58 percent responded that a negative review would stop them from calling a local business, most only read between 1 and 3 reviews before deciding to visit a store.

Even more surprising, an overwhelming majority (81 percent) disclosed that while they do read reviews, they do not leave online reviews themselves. But businesses can rest easy when it comes to Glassdoor—89 percent of respondents do not check the site for reviews when considering a purchase from a local business.

Here’s how consumers will choose local businesses in 2020

“Despite the importance placed on positive reviews, most people do not want to tarnish a business’s reputation or take the time to build them up. If a business wants reviews, it really needs to have a review generation strategy in place to collect them,” said Lincoln. “In terms of Glassdoor, we can see that a searcher’s primary concern continues to be overall service, not employee opinion.”

Here’s how consumers will choose local businesses in 2020

Download the full study here.

Ignite Visibility surveyed over 500 searchers for this report.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter