Never mind talking: For more than half of all mobile device users, the number one function via their internet browser is search.
In the past nine months, the total number of visitors to search navigation sites conducted via mobile devices has jumped by more than 25%, with local searches playing a particularly important role – nearly 86 million people now seek local business information on their mobile phones in the United States alone.
More than half of those who conduct local business searches said they use mobile phones for searching because they are on the move. In fact, 56% of those who use local search sites primarily for local business information use these sites on a weekly basis across all devices.
Tip of the iceberg
That is just the tip of the iceberg uncovered in the Neustar Localeze and 15miles Sixth Annual comScore Local Search Usage Study, which analyzes a target sample of more than 3,000 users of local business Internet search.
“What we can clearly see is that the local search market is maturing – what we previously described as a Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) revolution is now embedded in consumer behavior,” said Jeff Beard, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Neustar Localeze.
“Tablet adoption is growing at a blistering pace: It took smartphones nearly a decade to reach 40 million users, while that number was crossed only two years after the iPad arrived. This market is set to keep growing, and businesses need to fundamentally rethink the way local customers are going to find them.”
Mobile and Tablet Searchers Continue to Sky-rocket:
The study demonstrates that the total number of U.S. searchers on mobile phones grew steadily last year – from 90.1 million mobile phone visitors to search/navigation sites or apps in March 2012 to 113.1 million in December 2012.
Tablets also grew as a source for online searches, with 19% growth between April 2012 and December 2012. Both mobile phone and tablet searchers find accuracy of information to be more important than depth of content.
However, tablet searchers are placing more importance on depth of content over time, while mobile phone searchers are placing less importance on this measure. Additionally, mobile phone searchers are more likely to cite maps, driving directions and distance as key information, while tablet searchers are more likely to find consumer reviews and online promotions most helpful.
Successful local business searches conducted via mobile phones are most likely to result in an in-store visit when compared to the outcomes of searches conducted on other devices.
Online mobile phone and tablet searchers, however, are more likely to continue searching and conduct multiple searches than PC/laptop users. Even more significantly, local business searchers using a mobile phone or tablet have a 78% and 77% likelihood, respectively, to make a purchase as a result of their last search, with tablet searchers skewing toward more expensive purchases.
Search via Apps is on the Rise – Facebook and Google Maps Dominate:
The study also offers a telling glimpse into other current trends, from application usage to social media. Application-based local search nearly doubled in just the past two years, significantly outpacing the SMS and browser markets.
More specifically, of the mobile phone searchers who said they use applications to search for local businesses, 35% use Google Maps. Finally, turning to social media, 92% of those who searched for local business information on social networking sites from all devices used Facebook for that purpose in 2012.
Here’s an infographic detailing some of the study findings:
What are Consumers Searching for?
There are also clear patterns in the choice of local search categories. The healthcare industry in particular needs to take note: pharmacies lead the pack with 86% of consumers looking for a specific pharmacy, while doctors and hospitals rank second with 75%. Banking and finance are not far behind (69%), followed by restaurants (65%). In fact, 23% of those surveyed said the last local business they searched was a restaurant.
“The greatest impact of the Internet is to offer access to information on a global scale, yet it’s equally important in driving business at the neighborhood level,” said Gregg Stewart, President, 15miles. “Consumers now expect accurate, easy-to-absorb information on local businesses on a variety of computing platforms, and those companies that can adapt to this new world have the most to gain.”
For more information on the survey, click here.
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