Gas Station and Convenience Store Owners Need to Keep Pace with Search to Reach Local and Mobile Consumers
BIRMINGHAM, MI, October 22, 2013 – Today’s world moves faster than ever. Fuel, whether gasoline or coffee, is a daily necessity to keep consumers moving. When it comes to deciding where to fuel up, on-the-go mobile consumers make split-second decisions based on proximity, reliability, and value. Now, take a market saturated with competitors and pair it with tech-savvy shoppers, and gas station and convenience store owners have a significant marketing hurdle. More than ever, gas station and convenience store owners need to use a multi-channel marketing approach to capture and retain consumers on the digital front.
Can anyone find you in the search results?
The prevalence of mobile technology has allowed consumers to access information on things they need whenever they need it, wherever they may be. A recent article published by Search Engine Watch reported that, “Ninety percent of all searches on mobile related to gas and convenience stores resulted within a purchase. Of that, 35 percent of smartphone users intend to buy immediately; 66 percent intend to purchase within the hour.” The study can be interpreted by gas station and convenience store owners that being found in a search for “gas stations” is more likely to result in a direct purchase within one hour of the search itself.
Melih Oztalay, CEO of SmartFinds Marketing, stresses the importance of being seen in the search results. He comments, “Much of our summer research has shown many of the local business listings for gas stations or gas stations and convenience stores to not have sufficient information to be displayed in the search results.” He also points out, “Equally, many of them do not include sufficient marketing materials for promotions, rewards programs, credit card offers, and the like for a consumer to make a decision between one store location and a competitor. These shortfalls reduce the competitive edge of an individual location, and thereby lose the business that is obviously searching while they are on the road.”
Businesses can’t exist on mobile apps alone
While gas station and convenience store owners can benefit significantly from associating with a mobile application, SmartFinds contends that it’s no longer enough to be tied to a single source marketing channel. Regardless of industry or business category, store owners should not be so quick to assume that merely consumers owning a mobile device is in direct relationship to the use of a specific app.
Independent research conducted by SmartFinds has shown that many merchants are still missing the opportunities online local business listings have to offer. Owners are under utilizing or neglecting this tool altogether, and consequently, not showing up on major search engines or even on Google Maps. “We were equally surprised to find in our research that gas stations and convenience stores were not paying attention to consumers searching in search engines. Though there are 300,000 searches per month for the term “gas stations” on Google, merchants erringly focus their attention on mobile app based social communities to drive sales instead of both channels,” said Mr. Oztalay.
According to Search Engine Watch, “Eighty percent of mobile searchers in this category are looking for gas and convenience within a 5-mile radius. The majority (55 percent) seek location info and 34 percent look for directions.” If a gas station or convenience store owner has not claimed and updated their business listing information on any search engine sites, how can they expect to be found in the first place? Business owners need to work with marketers who understand how to effectively strategize and optimize their local presence on both web and mobile. Merchants who have an accurate and consistent profile across multiple sources have a better chance of gaining customers and conversions.
The stars do matter
Not only do merchants need to establish their presence on the web and mobile, but they should also focus on maintaining a positive one when they get there. When issues arise, they need to act swiftly to mitigate any fallout from a bad customer experience. This past June, Search Engine Watch shared the results of a consumer review survey which showed that, between 2011 and 2013, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of consumers reading local business reviews. Mr. Oztalay confirms, “Research since 2011 continues to validate that even if you are found, even if you have marketing materials in your listings, if you are not managing the ratings and reviews, a consumer will not walk in the door.”
The Search Engine Watch article further noted, “What is good news for local businesses is the fact that not many people are just reading the first review for a local business. More than 60 percent read between two and six online reviews before they form an opinion on the business.” Of course, managing an online reputation effectively takes considerable time and effort. These are elements busy merchants often struggle with, but with the assistance of an innovative marketing partner and well-planned marketing strategy, the desired results are achievable.
How SmartFinds can help
SmartFinds partners with clients to find marketing strategies that bring more customers through their store doors. SmartFinds differentiates itself from other firms who may be specifically supporting in-store and customer experience marketing efforts. SmartFinds has an affordable multi-channel marketing program to suit the individual needs of gas station and convenience store owners. The SmartFinds approach is unique in that it focuses on strategic marketing processes and not just technology tasks alone.
SmartFinds can help business owners with:
• On-going marketing management at the Top 10 websites covering Search Engines, 411 Websites, Mapping/GPS Websites, Social Communities, and business directories, as well as syndication to over 200+ websites.
• Managing a store’s landing page marketability
• Managing consumer ratings and reviews
• Store-level geo-social media marketing
• Keyword ranking reports for the location’s city as well as 3-5 surrounding communities
SmartFinds Marketing provides innovative, personalized web marketing strategies and services. We strive to help customers navigate the web marketing and advertising world through education, consultation and result interpretation. As your partner, we research, develop a plan, and manage its execution. Web marketing is an intricate process and we help you interpret and understand the results every step of the way. Smartfinds is headquartered in Birmingham, MI and houses over 25 years of marketing, advertising and internet experience. Smartfinds’ broad client experiences with websites, web advertising campaigns, and web marketing strategies include larger corporations like Compuware, Delphi, Flagstar Bank, Guardian Industries, McCann Erickson, Penske Automotive Group, Soave Enterprises, Wendy’s, Ziebart and others. To learn more visit www.SmartFindsmarketing.com or call (866) 501-5758.
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