How smartphones re-wrote the customer acquisition playbook for small businesses

Today, instead of running to the library, we “Google it.”

Instead of cracking open the encyclopedia, we turn to Wikipedia.

If we want to know what’s happening in the world, we don’t turn to local news, see what’s trending on Twitter. And when we are looking for a place to shop, we don’t turn to the Yellow Pages; we turn to our smartphones. We do a “near me” search, read the reviews, compare the ratings, and check the hours and location.

We’re all aware of the changes smartphones have made in our personal lives. But we often forget that those same smartphones have changed the way people look for, choose, and visit local businesses. And just as smartphones have changed the way we choose where to shop, they’ve changed the way small business owners can connect with and engage new customers.


Life before smartphones

In the past, small businesses could effectively attract new customers by running an ad in the local paper, having a feature spot on the radio, or posting flyers on community bulletin boards. Back then, we had far fewer sources of media or ways of learning about local events and business. We didn’t have smartphones or social media. We had the Yellow Pages and the Sunday paper. Advertising was the only way to let people know about your business.

(Side note: While it may sound like we’re talking about the good old days, we’re only talking about 5-10 years ago, as smartphone penetration has skyrocketed in recent years.)

Today, people don’t window shop; instead, they browse your “digital storefront” on their smartphone. They also use their phone or tablet to compare products, read customer testimonials on review sites, and to find the best places to shop or eat. With this shift in consumer behavior driven by mobile search, old method of attracting customers no longer make sense. 


Trading the megaphone for a magnet

The classic advertising metaphor is someone shouting your marketing message into a megaphone. For decades, this approach was effective. It got your attention. But then there was another megaphone. And another megaphone. Today, “intrusive” advertising is seen as an annoyance to be avoided.

Most of the messages we hear on the radio, see on TV, or read on billboards or in the paper aren’t relevant. Even if they are, at the moment we hear them, there is often little we can do about it. If someone sees your advertisement while  driving their kids to school, stuck in traffic, or at the gym, they’re not in a position to act on it. The odds of that person taking action later are slim.

On the other hand, business listings on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp help boost your business in local search results and ensure that you show up at precisely the time when consumers are looking to spend money. When consumers search these sites for businesses like yours, they are active on their shopping journey. 

In a way, the internet empowers your business to trade the megaphone for a magnet. Rather than shouting for attention, you just attract customers via the magnetic pull of the mobile internet. All you have to do is take control of your online business presence and let consumers find you.

A modern take on an age-old problem

Many local businesses struggle to attract new customers because they’re still trying to use outdated channels to connect with modern shoppers. In the past, customer acquisition channels like flyers, the Yellow Pages, local paper and radio ads were more successful because that was where consumers went for more information about businesses in their community. Today, they do all of that on their smartphone. If you want to attract customers, you need to meet your customers where they are, you need to understand the modern consumer journey.

The next time your prospective customer needs a plumber, haircut, or a quick place to grab a locally roasted coffee, make sure your business shows up in local internet searches. Start by claiming and updating all your business profiles on relevant social media platforms and review listing sites.

Attracting new customers is an age-old frustration. At times it can seem like a wasted effort or that people just don’t shop locally anymore. The truth is, while foot-traffic may be down 57% for small businesses, consumer intent to buy has tripled in the past five years.

To put it another way, while you may not have as many people walking into your store, those that do are three-times as likely to purchase. What’s more, 3 out of 4 people who search for something nearby using their smartphone end up visiting a store they find in that search within a day. Of those that visit, 28% percent make a purchase.

Smartphones have changed the way businesses attract new customers because customers now use smartphones to find businesses they want to shop.


Take action

Whether you’re new to review sites or looking for better ways to boost your online business presence, Womply’s makes it easier than ever. Speak with one of our small business consultants for a free walkthrough today.


How to find the best credit card processor for your small business

In this 5-minute read: How to determine the best credit card processor for your unique needs Flat rate vs. “interchange […]

Read More

The PPP is being extended! New application deadline is August 8, 2020

In this 2-minute read: The PPP application deadline is being extended to 8/8/2020 No other rules have been changed The […]

Read More

How much do local businesses like supermarkets, restaurants, bars, and more make during the 4th of July?

In this article: Do local businesses make more money on the 4th of July? The day before the 4th is […]

Read More

What are some alternative ways to accept credit cards?

In this 5-minute read: PayPal Etsy and eBay Cash advances Alternatives to traditional credit card processing Why you should consider […]

Read More

Top 5 ways payments has changed in the last 10 years

In this 7-minute read: Top payments innovators and disruptors over the past decade Square, Stripe, etc. EMV/chip card adoption in […]

Read More

Credit card processing fees: what small businesses need to know

In this 9-minute read: What things affect credit card processing fees? What types of fees and rates are available to […]

Read More

See why Womply is the #1 marketing and CRM solution used by 450,000+ businesses.

By submitting this form you agree to Womply’s Services Agreement