Have you ever been wanting to try out a new restaurant and asked your friends, but no one has been before?
Wanting to buy a new pair of sunglasses but not sure if they will last?
Have you wanted to get someone to clean your house, but worried they might not show, steal your stuff, or even just do a horrible job?
If you are anything like me, the first thing you do is go to the almighty Google, type the company name, and see what comes up. It turns out we are not at all alone.
There is a reason that Google averages 40,000 searches every second. This equates to 1.2 trillion searches every year worldwide. I am sure a large number of those searches are people Googling their own names, so why would someone not Google their business.
In fact, 97% of people will Google a company to see if they would like to do business with them.
A few things customers will check on the website.
1. To start, you would just view the main page. You want the website to seem professional, have good information, and of course be modern. Most people would be very turned off to a website if it feels outdated, as if no one had taken it upon themselves to update anything in years. You might even feel like an explorer finding an ancient relict.
2. Secondly, you will look at the details. You would want to make sure what the company is offering to you is on their website. Yes, we all want to feel like a service is specially designed for us, but to not have anything listed at all would raise red flags and warning bells would be going off. You would also look at the company’s information, such as an “about us” page. We all want to work with companies that care about their image and in turn would show that they care about delivering upon what you need.
3. Thirdly, you would want to see how to contact them. If anything were to happen you should make sure there are multiple ways to connect with the company. A lot of people learn too late that a company they have done business with did not deliver what was promised, they will only then go to the company’s website, not find any phone number, no names, then just send them an email, and sit around waiting with no other options.
Okay, so the company website is good, what should we check next?
After you have looked at the company, or before, depending on your personal preference, you will want to hear from people that have used the company. Sure, you might have seen a testimonial page on their website, but you know they would only post the most amazing reviews on their site. Therefore, you will go back to the Google, see your original search, and add “reviews”. In fact, 55% of customers will do this and search for reviews, recommendations, or both to justify that purchase to themselves. Review websites such as Google My Business, Yelp, or any other review sites are actually a more common stop for your customers. Of those who are searching your business on Google only 47% will visit your website (depending on industry), and if you have a physical store only 26% of people are going to stop by without internet research first.
You might be thinking, “I’m only a small local business, my customers are different”. Maybe if you own the only store in the town. Sure, those rules will not apply to everyone everywhere. Nevertheless, studies show that people do research options in their vicinity. As a matter of fact, locals are much more likely to search for local businesses. Your neighbors are more likely to buy from you then go for big national or international brand. The problem many of your clients are going to have is finding you.
This might seem a little strange, but do you know of every single business in your neighborhood? Or do you know of big national chains with a significant marketing budget, the ones that that you see on TV or have the giant billboards? Also, keep in mind that the majority of people looking for products use their smart phone, which are more likely to be equipped with Google Maps, Apple Maps, or a geolocation service of some kind. Google takes the location of the customer into consideration of search results, meaning small local businesses are more likely to show compared to larger companies farther away.
86% of people rely on the internet to find businesses in their local areas. You might assume that this is something done rarely, or just when a customer needs something very specific, but it is not. 29% of Americans are doing this every single week. But are these online searchers actually making the purchase? It turns out that they are and by a large margin. After someone has done their homework, found a business, located the perfect product, and trusts that the product will last, they are buying it 78% of the time.
So in conclusion, if you are a worldwide leader, regional powerhouse, or small mom and pop, you need to have a digital presence. Always remember your customers are like you. They are not just sales numbers, not just price tags, and not just what they buy. Try to put yourself in your customers position and next time you need to find something to buy notice the process you go through. Very rarely are you going to make a large purchase just because it is shiny in a window. Before you buy something you want to know that you are making a good decision, and most people go to Google to find information because it simply is perceived to be more efficient and trustworthy.
Many different sources and inspirations were considered in the writing of this article.
Take a look at this KPMG report, "The Truth About Online Consumers" for a global report on online consumption and consumers.