Searchers aren’t looking to buy online

Two-thirds of  people who are searching for local businesses have no intention of buying anything from them online. That’s the startling statistic from new research conducted on why people search. The study of search intentions shows that 66% of people are merely trying to find a business location, phone number or driving directions. This has important implications for any business web site.

Offline methods of connection appear to be very important to people

Offline methods of connection appear to be very important to people

Indeed, the research found that only one in ten people actually went on to contact the business using the Internet, having completed a search. Some 89% of people went on to use offline methods of connection or to conduct further searches. It suggests that even after 20 years of web activity, the offline world is still highly important to people. Companies who concentrate their efforts on being “virtual” or entirely online are clearly losing out.

People want to speak to you on the phone, visit your premises and meet you in the “real world”. It is increasingly evident that many businesses are neglecting the need for “offline” activity in a bid to do everything online. Clearly that’s not what people like. Indeed, the figures show a slight increase in the desire for offline connections, instead of online methods.

So, what does this all suggest for your website? It means that your phone number, address, directions to shops and offices and so on, must all be visible for everyone who lands anywhere on your website. That means on EVERY page. Making people locate this information within your site will slow them down and increase their level of frustration with you, producing negative thoughts about your company.

It’s also a good idea to have all your contact information on every page, since studies have shown that when you identify your business as “real” you increase levels of trust in your website visitors. Companies who effectively hide their contact information are perceived as less trustworthy. So, there is a “double whammy” impact of having full contact details on every page – you increase levels of trust AND you immediately provide the offline information most searchers are actually looking for.

But whatever you do in terms of providing those offline points of contact, what is clear from this new research is that the online world is actually only of marginal importance to people. We all live in a physical, three-dimensional world – and that’s the world your customers expect you to inhabit. Ignore it at your peril.

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