By Daniel Hunter
A nationwide survey by T-Mobile of micro-business owners across a range of sectors has revealed the true extent of the Hidden High-street in the UK.
Despite a 400% increase in mobile searches over the last two years, 46% of companies are still invisible through mobile search. With the summer period being particularly busy for many small businesses, company owners are missing out on potential customers and therefore revenue by not taking simple, and often free, steps to be seen by potential customers searching on their mobile phones.
The research found that:
• As consumers, 42% of microbusiness owners surveyed regularly use their mobile to search for local businesses on Google Maps but just 16% of microbusinesses have registered their business on Google Places, which puts them clearly on the map for customers looking for local services
• 35% of consumers use internet search engines on their mobiles to search for local businesses, (increasing to 45% of consumers aged 16-34) but just 10% of microbusinesses have ensured their name comes up in relevant online searches
• 60% of consumers aged between 16 and 34 are ‘checking in’ to local businesses and making recommendations to their friends but just 14% of businesses questioned have claimed their Facebook place
• Only 13% of businesses have made their websites ‘mobile-friendly’ to ensure they’re easy to read and navigate for potential customers on the move
Businesses that have made sure they are easy to find for mobile users are reaping the benefits and stealing the march on their competitors. Of those who have increased visibility of their business through mobile search, 68% have seen benefits over the past year — 44% had more customer enquiries, almost a quarter (24%) experienced increased footfall and 15% directly attributed a growth in sales to being visible to customers on their mobiles.
“The summer months can be a really busy time for many small businesses in the UK and these companies need to be doing everything they can to reach new customers," Martin Stiven, VP Business at T-Mobile explained.
"We’re seeing a sharp rise in the usage of smartphones by small businesses but they’re not always thinking about how their customers are using their phones to find them. The extent of the hidden high-street is worrying and especially when you’re in direct competition with other similar businesses in your area there’s a huge advantage in making yourself visible through mobile search.”
T-Mobile has created a guide to microbusinesses to increase their online profile: 30 Minutes to Mobile Search Success.
“It takes just 30 minutes to get ready for mobile search, helping businesses reach new customers and ensuring existing customers recommend you to a friend. This is a quick, easy and free way to immediately drive customers in your area to your door,” Stiven added.
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