When it comes to online communities, local businesses have something of an advantage over big brands. Local businesses are already accustomed to creating meaningful relationships with their customers and often know them personally.
A new infographic from Eventility does a great job in emphasising this and the role that SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile) now plays in helping local businesses connect with existing customers and reach out to new ones.
Perhaps the most important stat to highlight is that the majority of small businesses actively using social media are gaining over a quarter of their new customers as a result. Generation Y in particular are using social networks to inform purchase decisions, with 61% turning to social media to decide where to go when going out. Online reviews also play a significant role in this, with 52% of consumers saying that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business and 72% saying they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
The infographic also demonstrates the importance of Mobile for local businesses. There are now over 1 billion smartphone users globally, and according to Google, 40% of mobile searches are looking for local businesses. Add into this the fact that 73% of smart phone users access Google Maps and the potential to reach and attract new customers is easy to see.
Online promotions are a popular and effective way to attract new customers. 73% of consumers say that they search for discounts and promotions online and 59% say that they have gone into a store as a result of finding a coupon online. Clearly, attracting new customers is not the only goal. Local businesses are also striving to retain existing customers and build customer loyalty. With that in mind, it's encouraging to see that connecting with customers is the number one reason why small businesses are using social media.
Of course, businesses can't rely solely on social media to stay in touch with their customers. With roughly 3 billion email users in the world and 19% of all time spent online devoted to reading and responding to emails, email marketing can also play an important part. It may not offer the same two-way interaction of social media, but 77% of small businesses say it has helped to increase their revenues and 85% plan to increase their use of email in 2013.
SMS marketing is often an overlooked medium, but if you have a promotion you want to advertise to your customers or you want to send reminders, you can't argue with an open-rate in excess of 95%. What's more, 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes.
Perhaps the key takeaway from this infographic is that whilst so much of marketing is the exclusive property of big brands, there is plenty of opportunity for small businesses to take advantage of the free marketing channels available to them. With the right tools, some planning and a bit of creativity, a small business could quite easily run a high-value, multi-channel campaign that mirrors the sophistication of the big players in their industry.