The Rise of the Super-Empowered Consumer – The “Near Me” Generation is Taking Over
By Bernadette Coleman, CEO Advice Local
This is the latest in BIA Advisory Service’s Vantage Points series. On a semi-weekly basis, it will tap the perspectives of various lookout points from around the local media and tech sectors. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect that of BIA Advisory Services. Please contact Rick Ducey, Managing Director, BIA Advisory Services, if you have insights to share.
With the launching of the first iPhone over 10 years ago, life as we knew it changed dramatically. Ever since that impactful moment, smartphones have only been getting smarter, and users – well, they have only been getting more savvy.
In 2018, we now have the fastest devices that can perform the most tasks ever, and users that are switching the way they socialize, the way they research, and the way they buy… all from the comfort of their own device. After all, they spend approximately 6 hours per day on their devices, according to the 2018 Internet Trends Report. Thanks to mobile, as you’ve observed in your own life, consumers are now more empowered than ever before.
The Super-Empowered Consumer Has High Expectations
Consumers are curious, demanding and impatient. This consumer wants answers to their queries, and they want them right now. When you buy something, you want to make sure it’s the right thing, and that it’s up to your standards. Today’s super-empowered consumer spends approximately 13 days doing research and reading reviews before buying a single item.
We know customers’ expectations are higher than ever before, and they are expecting every experience to be tailored to their lifestyle, location, and interests. These expectations are just as high even when sharing information about themselves.
This consumer has a mobile device by their side, which allows them to satisfy their need for timely, accurate information and resources. In addition, most of them likely have nomophobia – fear of being out of mobile phone contact.
You Have to Grab Consumers’ Attention and Give Them What They Want
So how should we, as local marketers and businesses, handle these super-empowered consumers?
It all starts with understanding the potential customer. Where do they go? What do they do? Why would they want or need the business’ product or service? Targeting different generations might lead to different answers for these questions, but businesses should look for things their potential customers have in common.
As mentioned earlier, these consumers want it fast, as in right now, but did you know they also want it close by? “Near me” searches are up an astounding 900 percent from 2015. It feels like there’s an entire generation composed of varying ages developing here – and in fact, I’ve been referring to it as the “Near Me” Generation.
While mobile devices are indeed cross-generational age-wise, the “Near Me” Generation has very specific expectations. They know no boundaries. This is exactly why local marketers like ourselves and businesses are making mobile a priority – or at least, they should be!
And we’re not the only ones placing an emphasis on mobile. Google, as you well know, has a completely separate index for mobile. Now the mobile index determines the placement for websites that have moved to it, making mobile the primary index, above desktop.
Mobile is at the very top of everyone’s list. Mobile allows serving customers in the moment, and providing them with the information they need when they need it.
Let’s say, for example, that you represent a restoration business like Restoration 1. Consider these factors:
- When a potential customer is experiencing water damage in their home, how would they find the business? Probably through a search engine.
- What type of device would they use? Most likely a smartphone, as people are rarely calmly typing on their desktop computers in the midst of an emergency.
- What information do they need to contact the business immediately? This information needs to be accessible quickly and easily from mobile (and desktop).
Ideally, the information the customer is looking for will be showcased above the fold.
Once the business understands the types of questions the targeted customers are asking, it immediately becomes easier to serve them.
Make It Local to Convert Prospects into Customers
As I mentioned before, converting this type of consumer – a prospect – into a customer is all about localization. So how can we achieve this? There are many ways, but the one I want to address here is based on location. After all, the #QueenofLocalSEO can’t produce an article about mobile without bringing local into the picture!
Let’s take the same restoration company mentioned above as an example. This restoration company is giving all customers in the area a free mold inspection with water damage services.
This coupon or promotion would need online visibility, much like a local business needs to be visible in search results, to make prospects aware of the offer. How could we accomplish this as local marketers? Here are three suggestions on how to do it:
- Feature the offer as a post on the business’ Google My Business listing. This would get visibility in local search results, and on the maps listing if the consumer clicks through.
- Don’t forget the business’ website. Placing the coupon front and center on the home page is highly recommended. Other options could be sidebar placement on the local landing pages, or a popup after the user is on the site for a certain amount of time, or after they take certain actions.
- Some local directory sites will allow offers to be included in the listing. This is another great place to share the coupon.
Does this tactic seem basic? You’d be surprised just how many ignore taking such a simple step. Yet many businesses find this really goes a long way towards making consumers feel valued.
Mobile Is at the Center of It All
For the past 10 years, mobile has been the center of attention, and now has pretty much all the attention of consumers. What you do with this information is up to you. We are focused on serving these super-empowered consumers, and I highly recommend you do the same.
Bernadette Coleman is the founder and CEO of search technology and local presence management company Advice Local. She specializes in content marketing, SEO social media and local search strategies for small and large companies.