Search giant Google has become an integral part of daily life. Source: Unsplash.

Search giant Google has become an integral part of daily life. Source: Unsplash.

Google on tapping local search to win mobile consumers

The smartphone market in Asia is booming. In the APAC region, fast data connections means smartphones account for the primary means of going online for nearly half (47 percent) of the region’s 4.3 billion citizens.

With consumers turning to the devices in their pockets to stay connected with friends, look up information and, of course, shop, there has never been a better time for brands to reach their audiences mobile – and the latest innovations in technology are making this possible.

Tech Wire Asia recently spoke to Jenny Lim, the Head of Search of Google Malaysia, about the power of search marketing in Malaysia, and how retailers and brands are leveraging the penetration of mobile internet to catch the attention of customers at the right time.

However, with consumers being bombarded with other forms of mobile advertising – whether that’s social media video, pop-up banners, push notifications, or email marketing – businesses must get clever and tap into the natural behaviors of customers if they are to cut through the noise.

This is where local search comes in. More and more consumers now rely on search to find the ‘best’ outlets or products ‘near me’.

“This indicates that consumers want to maximize their value of money and convenience,” explained Lim. Local search can show customers what they are looking for nearby, and provide crowd-sourced reviews to ensure they’re going to get the quality of product and service they require for their buck.

This behavior can be seen across Asia; even in Singapore, where everything is in reach, Lim said, searches for ‘near me open now’ have risen 44 percent, driven by today’s on-demand consumer expectations.

Ensuring their business search listings are up-to-date will ensure retailers are in the best position to seize on relevant mobile search traffic – while websites can be optimized to ensure they’re conveying their brand’s purpose and meaning effectively, as more consumer choice than ever means brands must now differentiate themselves on values.

“In Indonesia, the word ‘sustainable’ had increased more than two-fold in searches,” Lim explained.

Beyond ensuring visibility in Search engines, retailers can do so much more to extend their reach. They need to create a seamless integration of online and offline experience for customers – one where they feel connected with the brand from the very moment they look it up, to the point where they walk-into the store.

“Our client realized that most customers come in via research on Google Search and YouTube, and decided to be at every touchpoint of a customer’s online and offline journey […] they are now the biggest consumer electronic chain store in Malaysia,” Lim said.

Search marketing has become a game-changer for businesses today, amplifying the power of word-of-mouth recommendations, taking what would have remained hidden business gems, and raising them on a platform for everyone around them to see.

“Consumers – and businesses – are researching all the time – being visible in Search means being where customers are when they are curious about something you offer.”

Even if that click doesn’t land an immediate sale, said Lim, an impression will be created. The impression created could one day lead the customer back to a brand, and into their store.

Local search can also help physical retailers steal back some of the attention captured by the rampant e-commerce market, ensuring the benefits and immediacy of an in-store experience remain a relevant and convenient consideration even for seasoned online shoppers.