This isn’t your grandfather’s purchase funnel. The days of a linear customer buying journey—where a “single source of truth” (e.g., Yellow Pages ad or TV spot) led to a phone call and a closed sale—are gone, replaced by a nonlinear loop that lives online and is marked by mobility, user-generated content, two-way conversation and fragmentation.
The net effect: consumers possess more influence than ever over a business’ reputation. This is Google’s “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT): that “the business’ reputation is what consumers say it is,” splintered across search engines, reviews sites, social networks, online directories, vertical channels, hyperlocal sites and more.
It’s well established that online reviews impact what people are buying, with 90% of U.S. consumers saying that reviews influence their buying decisions. But reviews are only the tip of the iceberg. The average shopper consults 10+ sources (many of them online) before making a purchase (Social Metrics that Matter). This further disrupts the traditional funnel, as prospective buyers fluctuate between awareness, consideration and intent based on new signals as they become available.
The first imperative for businesses: be everywhere online. Not just the most popular search sites (although those are obviously critical). Not just on the sites that the business thinks it should be on. Not just on the sites that the business owner uses personally.
Why? Because consumers discover, engage with and ultimately select businesses everywhere. Predicting where that occurs isn’t the business’ prerogative. Being present, accurate, consistent, and engaged—everywhere—is.
Managing your own listing workflow isn’t your job; it’s ours
Now, some solutions allow you to cherry pick which sources you’d like to update. Synup, for example, tells its customers to “pick and choose the listings you want created, synced or fixed.” From a discovery perspective, this is a flawed approach. Not only are small business owners too busy running their stores to mull over which online sources should be updated, they need to be listed on as many sites as possible to establish a presence wherever customers can find them. Furthermore, “Managing your own listing workflow”—as Synup wants you to do—shouldn’t be your job; it’s ours. We work with the top data syndicators so nothing slips through the cracks.
Vendasta makes the process seamless: with a 10-digit phone number and a single click, a business can syndicate accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) information across more than 300 sites online via the four principal data aggregators (Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, Neustar/Localeze). Plus, we send updates to these data providers on a weekly basis (not a one time claim) to ensure that correct information is continuously surfaced.
Bottom line: businesses need to be present and accurate everywhere. We get them there for less than $4/mth on average. In fact, businesses that subscribe to Listing Distribution show a 172% increase in their overall listing accuracy, and a 277% increase in their overall presence (Why Local Listings Management Requires Ongoing Effort).
Agencies, take action! And remember, the online ecosystem is complex and fragmented. The purchase funnel has changed, and consumers are in control. Your clients must be EVERYWHERE: accurately and engaged.