When we discuss marketing with clients and prospects, we often talk about how marketing today has changed. Most of the business people we meet with already have a pretty good sense that what used to work is less and less effective today. That’s why so many businesses are paying attention to things like blogs, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and all the latest Social Media and marketing tools.
The thing is, it’s not just the marketing tools that have changed. The way people do business has changed—fundamentally. Customers (and that would include your customers) simply don’t shop for goods and services the same way they did five or ten years ago. So what’s changed?
HubSpot recently cited data from a 2011 social shopping study that shows that 50 percent of consumers spend 75 percent or more of their total shopping time doing online research. And within this group, 15 percent spend 90 percent of their time in online research.
What are your customers doing before they buy? They are doing their homework online before making their decisions. Close to half of them (44 percent) begin their online research with a search engine. Are they finding you? Here’s a test. Go to your favorite search engine (such as Google or Bing). Type in your product or service and your location—but don’t put in your company name. Does information about your company show up on the first page of the search results? If it doesn’t, you’re missing close to half of the people who might be looking for what you have to offer.
This isn’t a blip, either. The number of people who search for information about products and services online is growing every year. They are not sitting at home waiting for your catalog, your mailer, or your TV ad. They are taking the initiative.
Your customers aren’t behaving the same way that they did 10 years ago. Are you? Are you creating optimized online content that is going to cause them to find you when they search? Are you providing reviews from their peers (people they trust even more than they trust you)? And are you interacting with your customers online in a way that makes them want to post positive comments about your products and services?