The LSA just released its 2018 Local Media Tracking study — and the findings are great news for any business using digital marketing. Working with Burke, the LSA conducted a survey of 8,000 participants in the U.S., asking them questions about how they view and consume media when researching and purchasing.

The survey covered areas like what media type is the most and least popular for finding local business information, consumers’ trust in different types of media, and what channels consumers use before a purchase. The findings provide priceless information to local businesses that want to know how people search, find, engage with, and purchase from them.


Search Engines on Top

Search engines came out on top as the most trusted (described as such by 36 percent of participants), the most accurate (with 31 percent), and the most helpful (with 33 percent). Put another way, consumers trust search engines even more than personal recommendations — friends and family only ranked second with 15 percent.

In other words, content is a great way to reach your target audience and start a trusted relationship. The findings also emphasize the need to include news items in your strategy in addition to evergreen content, as this is the only way to show that your brand is up to date with current trends. This will also help present your business as an authority and allow you to appear in more searches.


Websites Are Also Crucial

The only place where search engines were not number one was for the source consumers turn to when purchasing. Here, search engines only received 23 percent, whereas websites received 25 percent. This demonstrates how a website is critical to the success of your business.

However, only a website with the right information will increase your purchases. Many websites fail simply because they are missing key elements. To make sure that your site is useful for consumers looking to purchase, you need at least the following:

1. Pricing Information

It should be clear exactly how much a product or service costs — all fees included. Users will only feel frustrated if they reach the checkout and realize that the price they saw excludes something like taxes or shipping. Furthermore, if you have similar offerings, such as various levels of plans, be sure to describe the benefits and differences of each. This is more useful than a list of features.

2. Visuals

If you are selling products, take plenty of pictures from many angles. If you are selling services, use videos to show your offerings in action. Consumers will feel more confident about purchasing if they are sure what they’re going to get. Plus, this will decrease refunds and improve the customer experience.

3. Social Proof

Customer testimonials are great, but it’s even better if consumers can see that numerous people are purchasing from you. To achieve this, list your number of purchases to date or show cumulative star ratings.

4. Secure Payment

Consumers who have never interacted with your brand before will be cautious about providing you with their payment information. You must show that you offer secure transactions, such as by showing that you use an SSL certificate. Even better is to ensure your refund policy is easy to find.


Digital Channels Compared to Offline Channels

Digital channels as a whole are considered more trustworthy and accurate than offline channels. Plus, 79 percent of consumers said that digital channels — including search engines, websites, and reviews, along with others — were the most helpful for local discovery.

The survey also shows which sources consumers trust the least, perceive to be the least accurate, and turn to the least often when purchasing. Newspapers, online videos, social networks, daily deals, and mobile apps were all named by less than 5 percent of consumers in all three criteria.


Other Findings from the Survey

One last thing the survey looked at was devices used to access the Internet. It found that laptops are the most popular (with 65 percent), although smartphones were not far behind (with 61 percent). Desktop computers were named by 55 percent of participants and tablets by just 40 percent.

It is also useful to know what devices consumers use for different tasks. This may influence what type of content you decide to create and how you choose to present it.

To look up information online for the first time, desktop computers and laptops are the most common — with 33 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Smartphones are also popular (with 27 percent), whereas tablets were only named by 9 percent of people.

The results change when consumers are talking about making online purchases. Laptops become even more popular (with 42 percent), as do desktop computers (with 40 percent). Smartphones, however, drop to 10 percent and tablets to 8 percent.


SEO Leads Are the Best Leads

It is clear that SEO combined with a good website is the most important thing a small to midsize business (SMB) can possess. With these two assets, you can be discovered, build trust, and gain sales. Ultimately, this will contribute to the growth of your business. Finally, as consumers are using various devices for different stages in the buyer’s journey, it is clear that it is still crucial to optimize your website and plan your SEO for every type of device and screen size.



Kristine is the Director of Marketing at Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. Kristine has a Masters Degree in Leadership and Communications from Gonzaga University and graduated from BYU with her undergrad in Broadcast Journalism. She's worked in television news, public relations, communications strategy, and marketing for over 10 years. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.