In August we ran our annual ‘Local Clicks & Calls’ survey in which we ask local business owners and local search marketers about which digital marketing channels drive leads to their businesses and deliver the best ROI.
About ‘Local Clicks & Calls’ Survey
The objective of this survey is to understand & share which online marketing channels are driving the most traffic, calls & offline visits to local businesses. This covers all types of local, physical businesses from Plumbers to Accountants to Cosmetic Dentists.
With insufficient data in Google Analytics, no consolidated call tracking data & the fact that many consumers convert offline, there is limited concrete data on the ROI & quality of leads generated by each channel which business owners & search marketers can base their decisions on.
We hope that these findings will provide useful insight to help our customers & readers make more informed decisions about where to allocate their marketing effort & dollars
Who took part in the 2015 survey?
For this year’s survey we had 477 respondents who had worked on optimizing over 8,200 locations in the last 12 months.
And what type of business are they?
*NB. We added ‘Web Designer’ as a new response in 2015.
- 38% of respondents are Search Agencies
- 28% are Small Business Owners
- 26% are Search Consultants
- 8% are Web Designers
In a typical week, how much time / effort do you allocate to the following channels?
- Most time / effort is spent on Local SEO & Organic SEO
- Least time / effort is spent on Email marketing, Mobile marketing & Display advertising
- Biggest drop in time-spent was on Mobile Marketing
Search Engine Optimization, whether local or organic is a long-term time game, often involving meticulous and time consuming tasks. It’s therefore little surprise that these channels come out on top for pure effort / time spent.
More time is spent working on social media than other key direct response channels such as PPC & email marketing.
Despite 2015 being another big year for mobile, most participants are spending even less time on mobile marketing vs 2014. This drop is surprising given the increase in consumers using mobile devices to find local businesses.
In a poll we ran in April, 60% of SEOs said they were very focused on getting customers’ sites mobile-optimized. It is conceivable that their focus has since moved on after the ‘mobilegeddon‘ scare passed without the seismic affect that was feared. Alternatively they may classify mobile-optimization tasks under the banner of ‘Organic SEO’ rather than mobile marketing, and so have attributed their time spent to this channel accordingly.
Rate the effectiveness of each channel to deliver a return on effort/money spent
- Local search & Organic search deliver the greatest ROI
- Social media, Display advertising & Bing ads are considered to deliver the lowest ROI
In the 1st chart we saw that respondents allocate the most time & effort to Local & Organic SEO, and it’s clear they do this because both channels deliver the greatest ROI for them/their clients.These channels allow a business to put themselves in front of high intent users at a time when they’re looking for their business or services. This is the same result we saw in the 2014 survey, so there’s little change year on year.
Interestingly, the results suggest that business owners & SEOs are spending a good slice of their time on social media optimization – more than they currently spend on PPC, Email marketing & Mobile marketing. However the ROI of social channels is considered to be lower than PPC or Email.
Does this mean that social marketing is more time consuming than other channels (to do it right I would say ‘Yes, definitely’) but that the value and conversions of social are not as clear or consistent as PPC or Email?
I suspect there is a ‘fear factor’ at play here. With so much persuasive chatter about the need for local businesses to actively engage & promote themselves on social platforms, many businesses do so out of fear of missing the opportunity, rather than because it delivers tangible results for them.
Google AdWords is considered marginally more ‘effective’ than in 2014, although there is typically less time / effort spent on this channel year on year.
Rate the effectiveness of each channel to deliver high quality leads
- Organic search & Local search deliver the highest quality leads
- Mobile marketing, Social media & Display advertising deliver the lowest quality leads
The quality of leads is crucial to the success of all local businesses, much more so than quantity of leads, which is important up to a point.
Again we see that Organic & Local search come out on top as they reach consumers at the point they’re researching or purchasing a service, resulting in higher conversion. This is further justification for a majority of time allocated to these channels by business owners & SEOs.
Google AdWords is also seen as a strong source of high quality leads which is why more local businesses and local marketeers are using it. It’s another high-intent channel but one that offers more control & predictability than organic & local search – a marketeers dream!
Respondents believe that Facebook & Twitter deliver low quality leads. But these channels shouldn’t be looked at as simple lead-generation opportunities. Some marketers believe they are, and know how to drive leads from them, but for many businesses, extracting value from social channels is a longer term play. It lies in engaging existing & new customers, building relationships and keeping their business in the minds of consumers, for when their product or service may be required.
Approximately what percentage of calls are generated by each channel?
- Local search delivers 26% of calls on average
- Organic search delivers 15% of calls on average
- Google AdWords delivers 12% of calls vs 4% from Bing Ads
Phone Calls are the most important local search KPI, and for the majority of local businesses they are the most valuable type of lead.
Local search offers visibility to high-intent local customers, many of whom will grab a phone number, or click-to-call from mobile to contact a business. So it’s not surprising that conversion from this channel is high. However this may drop over the next year if Google persists with obscuring phone numbers and forcing searchers to click deeper into its pages to get the info they want.
The effectiveness of Google AdWords has increased since 2014, and it enables advertisers to target customers looking for specific products & services on a local, national or international scale. If fully optimized it can be a valuable source of phone leads.
Approximately what % of site traffic is generated by each of these channels?
- Local search delivers 23% of website traffic on average
- Organic search delivers 17% of website traffic on average
- Twitter & Facebook combined deliver just 10% of website traffic
For some businesses, website traffic is the most important metric – and Local search & Organic search are the most effective channels at driving it.
It’s a little surprising to see Local search outperforming Organic search in terms of volume here. Google doesn’t always display local results in SERPs and now limits the local results to just 3 in most cases. So the opportunity to drive traffic from organic results is greater.
But if successfully optimized, then a local business appearing in the local ‘snak pack’ is likely to generate a high volume of traffic because there is less competition for searcher attention now than before.
Social media, whilst being a good communication tool is not a good source of website traffic / phone calls. It’s very low down in priority but is probably seen as more of a retention / brand strengthening / customer service tool by many business owners / SEOs, rather than a source of new business.
If you only had 1 channel that brought people to your business/site, which channel would you choose?
- 34% of respondents would choose Local search above any other channel
- 28% of respondents would choose Organic search
- 19% of respondents would choose Google AdWords
There is a clear ‘Top 3’ with Local search, Organic search & AdWords as the channels which most business owners & SEOs would choose to bring traffic to their site.
All 3 channels are targeted and reach customers at the point they’re looking for a specific service or business – ‘high intent’ users. All 3 offer plenty of scale and a high volume of leads without sacrificing quality so it’s not surprising that they stand out above other channels.
Of these channels Local Search is the clear winner, as it has been throughout the survey findings. This is great news for those involved in the local search industry and provides great ammunition to convince local business owners to invest more in local search.
Interestingly Direct Traffic, which provides excellent ROI & delivers high quality leads, is not a channel that many respondents choose above others. Direct Traffic is driven by brand awareness, word of mouth, reputation and returning visitors (to name just a few). It’s a less definable channel and not so easy to influence or control as the ‘Top 3’. The same can be said with Referral traffic, whereby you are ultimately relying on other sources to deliver traffic to you.
Once again Social channels such as Twitter & Facebook perform badly, with respondents not trusting them to deliver quality leads and decent ROI.
Got a different viewpoint on this subject or some useful insights you want to share? We’re interested in publishing unique content written by smart marketeers on our blog. Contact us with your details & ideas and we’ll get back to you ASAP!