spotlight on Local MOBILE
consumer SEARCH BEHAVIOUR
April 2013 ° Mediative.com
Mediative Research: A study of on-the-go customers and how they search
for local businesses
Mediative is a digital marketing company providing performance services
and access to media platforms. Organizations who want to significantly
enhance their digital presence and influence buyers turn to us to help
generate revenue by quickly moving their targets from awareness to
Location and research-based data fuels our insight, which we leverage
across our consultative performance services, online properties, and
location-based marketing platforms in the dynamic digital world.
With precise and unmatched knowledge of how “shoppers and clients buy”,
we take a consultative and holistic approach,based on our people’s passion
for insight and results, to provide the outcomes you need now, and for the
Table of Contents
APPS AND BROWSERS ...............................................................................................
Part One: MOBILE USERS’ONLINE SURVEY RESPONSES............................
PART TWO: live user observations - lab RESULTS..................................
Heat Maps ............................................................................................................
Eye-Tracking: User Behaviour and Key Takeaways..................................
Usability of Apps.................................................................................................
IMPLICATIONS FOR BUSINESSES.............................................................................
As people have made the shift toward
mobile platforms,now more than ever
location is influencing the success of
digital marketing strategies.
The purpose of this research was to
discover how people interact with
a mobile device to conduct a local
search for a product or service, and
the role social media makes in aiding
their decision. The impact of social
media on purchase behaviour is often
understated due to the dramatic shift
in the use of smartphones over the
past few years — people often do
not even realize how social media is
impacting their search behaviour and
purchase decisions. In 2013, social
media signals will have even more of
an influence over search results and
Specifically, we wanted to find out:
• How do people search for local
businesses using their phones?
• What types of businesses do they
• Where are they?
• What are they doing?
• What apps/websites do they use?
• What makes them choose one
business over another?
• How influential is social media in
people’s local search decisions?
• Do they “check-in” to businesses
and if so, why?
• Do people distinguish between
“search” and “social media”?
The study was conducted in two parts:
1. An online survey to collect a
reasonable sized sample for a
quantitative look at behaviours
2. An eye-tracking lab study to
gather qualitative insight into
behaviours, determine which
parts of listings are important
(from an observation rather than
self-reporting perspective), and
discover how some of the most
popular apps perform and what
they could do better.
Summary of Findings
• 61.4% of survey participants
indicated that they have a mobile
phone on which they access the
had searched for within the last 12
months were Shopping, and Food
& Beverage and the least searched
for category was Construction,
Renovations & Repairs.
• The average number of websites
or apps normally consulted is
just over 3 for Shopping, just over
2 for Sports & Recreation, and
between 2 and 3 for the remaining
• Distance plays an important role
in people’s decisions to chose a
• The most common reason for
“checking-in” is ‘to get discounts
or coupons’, closely followed by ‘to
discover interesting things around
you’. The majority of check-in
activity happens in the 18-34 age
• Convenience is a key factor in
making a decision to solve an
• Ratings and reviews are more
important than price in the
categories of Health & Medicine,
and Financial & Legal.
• When searching for a specific
brand, the result people are
looking for is typically at the
top, therefore there is not much
• For lists of results, there is pretty
consistent scanning down the
left edge of the text, with quick
glances at distances and images.
• When looking at a map,searchers
tend to focus their gaze in the
middle of the screen and move
the map accordingly.
• Local searching in the browser
exhibits more of a “triangle”
scanning behaviour than in local
search apps, possibly because
there are organic search results
with titles that people must scan,
rather than just business names.
• For longer lists of results,
searchers tend to keep their eyes
relatively still near the middle
of the screen and scroll through
the content, rather than looking
from top to bottom, scrolling, and
looking from top to bottom again.
• When completing the tasks
required to find the nearest
of something (i.e., the nearest
bank), there is more focus on the
• The top five reasons participants
chose results were:
- Knowledge of Area
- Ratings and Reviews
- Something being “the best”
980 random participants* (recruited through a third
party online survey panel) started the online survey, with
556 completing it. Only those participants who owned a
mobile phone on which they access the Internet could go
on to complete the survey.
The results presented in the study are from the
participants who completed the survey.
• 47% of participants were male (260) and 53% were
• 97% of participants were ages 18-64, with only 3% of
participants being over the age of 65.
• 76% of participants had at least some college/
university education or higher.
The lab study was conducted at Mediative’s TiveTank™
research lab in Toronto. 31 participants* of mixed age
and gender were asked 12 questions regarding their
local search behaviour online. Each participant then
completed 5 tasks on either the iPhone 4 or Samsung
Nexus S, repeating each task on 6 different apps:
The results were recorded using the Tobii X60 Eye Tracker
with the Mobile Device Stand. Mobile apps used in the lab
tests were preloaded onto the mobile devices, and were
the latest versions of the apps as of March 2013.
Based on qualitative feedback from the eye tracking
participants, as well as analysis of their individual and
aggregated eye tracking sessions, we have drawn some
conclusions about how people search for local businesses
using their phones, the types of businesses they search
for, the apps/websites they use,the role that social media
plays in their search behaviour, and what makes them
choose one business over another.
The Lab Study Tasks
Each participant was given the same introduction to the
using different apps today. You may or may not be familiar
with them – that’s ok, just do your best. There’s no right or
wrong answer. For most of the tasks, I’ll give you a general
description of what you’re looking for and you’re free to
search for it however you want. Occasionally I’ll tell you
the exact phrase I’d like you to search for. I have a short
questionnaire for you to fill out after each app that you use.”
• Imagine you need to deposit a cheque. Please use
_______ to find a branch of your bank.
• Imagine you need to buy a new pair of shoes. Please
use _______ to find a store where you could buy some.
• Imagine you’re looking for a somewhere to eat dinner
tonight. Please use ________ to find one.
• Imagine you need to find a plumber who can come
here to fix a leaky pipe. Please use ______ to find one.
• Imagine you need to buy a new pair of jeans. Please
use _______ to find a store where you could buy some.
After each task, the participant was asked “Why did you
choose that result?”
statistically valid data – we needed a large sample because
we were trying to approximate the behaviour of a population
Only 31 participants took part in the lab study portion of the
in nature (for example, the feedback participants gave on
the apps) which did not need a large sample. Secondly, eye
tracking historically starts to give very consistent results
once approximately 30 people have conducted the tests
and the results have been averaged into a heat map or gaze
map. For mobile studies, the numbers can be even lower, as
in this study, because the screen is so small and we were
looking at very structured content. There were not a lot of
places for people to look, and the formatting of the content
follows a very rigid presentation.
Apps and Browsers - Android
Below are examples of the apps and browsers as viewed by participants on an Android device.
Google Search Browser Google App Facebook
Google Maps Yellow Pages Yelp
Apps and Browsers - iPhone
Google Search Browser Google App Facebook
Google Maps Yellow Pages Yelp
Below are examples of the apps and browsers as viewed by participants on an iPhone.
MOBILE USERS ONLINE SURVEY RESponses
Intended to garner a quantitative look at social-local-mobile
behaviours and expectations
• Qualifying Question:Do you own a mobile phone on which you access the Internet?
• Q1: Which of the following types of local business have you searched for using your mobile phone in the last
• Q2:How often do you search for the following types of local businesses on your mobile phone?
• Q3:What do you use to find the following types of local businesses on your mobile phone?
• Q4: For each of the following types of local businesses, how many websites or apps do you normally consult
before choosing a specific business?
• Q5:For each of the following types of local businesses, do you normally search using a general description, a
specific business name, or both?
• Q6:When you search for the following types of local businesses, where are you?
• Q7:Why would you look up the following types of local businesses?
• Q8:How many results would you consider when searching for the following types of local businesses?
• Q9:Once you have selected a business, what is the first thing you would do next?
• Q10: If you are on foot, how far are you willing to travel when searching for the following types of local
• Q11: If you have a vehicle, how far are you willing to travel when searching for the following types of local
• Q12:How soon after searching for the following types of local businesses would you call or visit?
• Q13: For each category of business that you have indicated you have searched for in the past 12 months,
please rank the importance of each type of information in helping you choose a business.
• Q14:How trustworthy are online ratings and reviews of the following types of local businesses?
• Q15:How often do you“check-in”— that is,post to a social network or app that you are at a specific business?
• Q16:Which of the following apps do you use to “check-in” at a business?
• Q17:When you visit each of the following types of businesses, how often do you check in there?
• Q18:Why do you check in at a business?
Qualifying Question:Do you own a mobile phone on which you access
These figures are consistent with those reported by comScore in its 2013 Canada Digital Future in Focus whitepaper,
which found that as of December 2012, 62% of mobile phone subscribers owned a smartphone.
Smartphone penetration is high among 18-34 years olds, dropping off significantly after the age of 45. A 2012 study by
Deloitte found that 18-24 year-olds are almost three times as likely as the 55+ group to own a smartphone (58% vs.21%).
• What this means for businesses is that, unless your target market is only people over the age of 45 (and even then
it’s still recommended), having a mobile-optimized website is no longer optional. People are searching for your
business online and you need to be found.
• More education to the older age groups in the usage of mobile devices could also result in reaching more local
customers who potentially have the technology to access the internet, but lack the knowledge of how to do so.
Q1:Which of the following types of local business have you searched for using
your mobile phone in the last year? Please select all that apply.*
* After participants indicated
which business categories they
searched for, only those types
of businesses were shown in
The participants that answered
“None of the Above” did not
answer any further local search
#1 Searched Category - Shopping: “Showrooming” has become increasingly popular which is the act of examining a
product in a retail outlet, but making a purchase online at a cheaper cost.
#2 Searched Category - Food and Beverage:This is to be expected as people are often out-and-about when they decide
they want to find somewhere local to eat.The “near me” features of many apps are a good tool here.
Least Searched Category - Construction,Renovation & Repairs:This could be largely because this is considered more of
a high-risk category,and something that requires more research,something that people do on their desktop device,more
than mobile when on-the-go.It’s also more likely to be a carefully thought-out decision,rather than a spur of the moment
decision, which is less likely to happen on a mobile device.
• In most categories, younger people search more for local businesses than do older people. Exceptions were:
- Construction, Renovation & Repairs – more frequent among middle-aged people
- Financial & Legal – more frequent among 35 – 44 year-olds
- Home & Garden – more frequent among middle-aged people
- Travel & Lodging – more frequent among middle-aged people
• 18 – 44 year olds searched most for Shopping,and Food & Beverage,least for Sports & Recreation,and Construction,
Renovation & Repairs.
• Men search more than women do for Automotive & Transportation, Construction, Renovation & Repairs, Electronics
(where there was the biggest difference in gender), Financial & Legal, Sports & Recreation, and Travel & Lodging.
• Women search more than men do for Food & Beverage, Health & Medicine, Personal Care, and Shopping.
• Searches for Arts & Entertainment, and Home & Garden are roughly equal.
• Some business types are searched more in larger cities: Arts & Entertainment, Financial & Legal, Food & Beverage,
Personal Care, Shopping, Sports & Recreation,Travel & Lodging
• Some business types are searched roughly equally regardless of population size: Automotive & Transportation,
Construction Renovation & Repairs, Electronics, Health & Medicine, Home & Garden.
Q2:How often do you search for the following types of local businesses on your
• Food and Beverage, Personal Care, and Shopping are frequently searched which, again, are all on-the-go types of search
queries that would be made on a mobile device.
of respondents conduct Construction,
Renovation, & Repairs searches less than
once a month
34.6% 31.3%of respondents conduct Home & Garden
searches less than once a month
42.3%of respondents conduct Travel & Lodging
searches less than once a month
• When you look at the high percentage of people who have searched for Travel & Lodging (see Q1) it implies that people
perhaps only search for this category when they are travelling, which itself is infrequently, however, it is a search that
many people do rely on when they are travelling.
• Construction, Renovation, & Repairs, and Home & Garden are searched infrequently which is likely for the same
reasons as mentioned in Q1 - it’s not an on-the-go type of search query,and falls more into a research query,therefore
likely to be conducted on a desktop device.
of respondents conduct Personal Care
searches 1-3 times a week
34.8% 34.6%of respondents conduct Shopping
searches 1-3 times a week
35.1%of respondents conduct Food & Beverage
searches 1-3 times a week
Q3: What do you use to find the following types of local businesses on your
• For all categories, search engines were the most popular method of finding a local business.
• Financial & Legal,and Shopping searches happen more frequently on the business’app or website than other search
• Auto & Transportation,Construction,Renovation & Repairs,and Financial & Legal searches happen less frequently on
search engines than other search functions.
• Auto & Transportation, Food & Beverage, Shopping, and Travel & Lodging searches happen more frequently in map
applications than others.
• Most searched on local search/business directory websites are Construction, Renovation & Repair services.
of respondents on average use a local
search/business directory website to
conduct a local search
25.3% 23.6%of respondents on average find a local
business via its website directly
67.2%of all respondents on average use a
search engine to conduct a local search
Q4: For each of the following types of local businesses, how many websites or
apps do you normally consult before choosing a specific business?
The average number of websites or apps normally consulted is just over three
for Shopping and just over two for Sports & Recreation. For the remaining
categories, the average number of apps consulted is between two and three.
The fact that more than one website or app is consulted in all categories could
indicate that the results presented by the current local search options are
not acceptable, or that searchers want a greater variety of results.This would
be particularly true if people are looking for discounts and coupons online, or
want more information about a business above and beyond its location and
As social media continues to influence search results, and with the
introduction of Facebook Graph Search, we may see this number drop as
results become more heavily swayed by reviews and ratings which are of
importance to a large portion of people. Facebook Graph Search pulls results
a social vote for a particular company or brand, and alerts friends to the fact
that you are socially nominating the business. Likes will form the basis for
appearing in Facebook Graph Search results. Recent research by Mediative
shows that being in the top two or three listings is key to ensuring the listing is
viewed quickly, and by longer than other elements on the page.
• Search engines,local directory listings and business websites are not surprisingly the most common way that people
search for local listings.If your business falls into a frequently searched category,you must ensure not only that your
website is optimized for mobile from an SEO and user experience perspective, but also that you are as visible as
possible in local listings, maps and directories. Consumers who perform searches on mobile devices have a sense of
urgency. Their need for efficiency and their lack of patience means your website needs to be easily findable through
• For retailers, a consumer’s decision to click the “Buy Now” button is influenced by many factors, including physical
location.Consumers prefer buying from retailers closer to them.Ensure it’s clear on your website where your locations
are. For the people who want to buy online, clearly state the shipping charges and delivery time on product pages.
• The accuracy of local contact information online cannot be over-stated. If your business information is inaccurate
or incomplete, it could result in a missed visit or call to your location. Your business name, address, phone number,
website and hours of operation must all be accurate, and consistent across all web properties and directories.
• Map applications are a popular method of conducting a local search for some categories. Map information is pulled
from Google Places/Google+ Local pages, therefore in order to appear higher in the map results, it is critical that you
have claimed your page. Once claimed, your page must be up-to-date and well-optimized with the correct category,
pictures, video, reviews and ratings.
• Lower-risk,on-the-go types of purchases that fulfill an immediate need are more likely to be searched for on a mobile
device.People who are urgently searching for something have a higher likelihood of converting into a customer.Make
sure your website loads quickly and the navigation lets the consumer find what they are looking for in just a few
Facebook Graph Search results
Q5:For each of the following types of local businesses, do you normally search
using a general description, a specific business name, or both?
• General description means, for example,“banks”, or “movie theatres”.
• A specific business name means, for example,“Bank of Montreal”, or “Cineplex”
• Auto & Transportation and Financial & Legal searches are heavily specific to the business name, as are Sports &
Recreation, and Shopping searches.
• Construction, Renovation & Repairs, and Home & Garden tend to be more general searches.
• The responses to this question provide an indication of the kind of keywords you should be optimizing your site for.If
your category is searched for more “generally”, it might be worth expanding your keywords in order to ensure you are
visible for the widest range of general, or non-branded searches possible.
• Long search queries indicate a mobile consumer’s desire to find exactly what they are looking for in just one search.
It also indicates their desire to find what they are looking for within the top three search results,avoiding the need to
scroll down or go to the next search results page. Make sure your pages are optimized with various long-tail search
keywords that reflect what your mobile audience might be looking for. For instance, a consumer that searches for
“Product X Toronto” is indicating his/her desire to find a Product X retailer locally.
• This also shows the importance of ensuring you chose the correct categories for Google Places/Googe+ Local, and
directories, because if people are searching for a business using general queries, your business is more likely to be
in the results shown if you have chosen the correct category.
Q6: When you search for the following types of local businesses,
where are you?
• Most searching is done from the home – at least 63% of respondents said they searched for each business type from
• Food & Beverage is the least frequently searched from home probably because people are looking for somewhere to
go to eat immediately – a higher proportion of searchers do this from “outside”,“car”, and “unfamiliar city”.
• Not surprisingly, Travel & Lodging, Food & Beverage, Shopping, and Arts & Entertainment are the most popular
categories to be searched for when in an unfamiliar city.
• Sports & Recreation was the most popular category to be searched for from work.
• Given the high number of searches that are conducted from the home, it cannot be assumed that people are always
“on-the-go” when they are using their phones to conduct a search. Smartphones are replacing desktops as the most
convenient method of searching online and if you’re connected to home Wi-Fi, it’s the cheapest time to use your
smartphone. It’s often easier to reach for your phone than power up a desktop computer. In these cases, trying to
identify the searcher’s intent from the keywords used becomes more important than location.
• It’s also important to learn from this that even if your business falls into a category where location is not an important
factor in the decision of which business to chose, your website must still be optimized for mobile to account for the
people who are searching from the convenience and comfort of their homes, while still on their smartphone.
Q7: Why would you look up the following types of local businesses?
• For all business types, the most popular reason for looking up the business was to see products, services, or menus.
• Finding deals or coupons was popular for Electronics and Shopping, as well as Food & Beverage, Home & Garden, and
• The most popular business categories that participants indicated they were trying to call were Travel & Lodging,
Construction, Renovation & Repairs, Financial & Legal, and Automotive & Transportation.
• Reading reviews was a more important activity for Travel & Lodging, Food & Beverage, Arts & Entertainment, Personal
Care, and Electronics than for other types of businesses.
• Directions were particularly important for Food & Beverage, Shopping, and Travel & Lodging.
• Visiting the business was particularly important for Food & Beverage and Shopping.
• The findings show how important it is to think like your customers,and determine what information they are trying to
find when they search for businesses. Try to think of ways to provide the information your customers are looking for,
and encourage further action from searchers,such as to call or visit the location,or make an online reservation. Tailor
your offers and message to the search intent of your audience. Click-to-call options can make calling your location
much easier, and having a Google+ Local page will help get your location on a map. For some categories, opening
hours are important for customers (e.g. a coffee shop or retail location) but for other categories, sale items, coupons,
or locations might be considered more important to the customer.
As an example, a key reason people visit restaurant websites is to see a menu, pricing, opening hours, and even
nutritional information before they call to make a reservation.Without this information easily accessible,businesses
may lose customers to competitors who do have this information listed. With paid search, ad extensions allow you to
link to your menu, your locations, your hours etc. directly from your listing
Q8: How many results would you consider when searching for the following
types of local businesses?
• The majority of participants indicated they consider no more than 4 – 6 results for all types of businesses.
• Participants were more likely to consider more results for Construction, Renovation & Repairs, Food & Beverage,
Shopping, and Travel & Lodging than for other types of businesses.
• Fewer than 12% of participants would consider more than 10 results for any type of business, with most business
types getting even fewer than 12%.
• Being top of the listings is always important, but never more so than on a mobile device where the real estate for
listings and visibility is very limited. Whereas on a desktop, you may be able to see up to 10 results, on a smartphone
only 2-3 listings can be seen on the screen without scrolling, therefore they are premium positions, and being in the
top 3 listings is critical for maximum visibility.
• Google is a favourite search engine for mobile users, which makes AdWords a platform you can’t ignore when
planning mobile campaigns. However, be prepared to be aggressive! You will need to literally fight with dollars to get
the impressions you want.
• For higher-risk purchases, being top of the listings is not as critical, as people are prepared to invest the time to find
the right business.
Q9: Once you have selected a business, what is the first thing you would do
• With the exception of Automotive & Transportation, the first action that the majority (over 50%) of participants would
take after selecting a business is to visit the business’ website.
• Visiting the business and calling the business were the second and third most popular first actions.
• Participants were generally unlikely to first share the business’ information with friends or save the business as a
• Once people find you online,they are most likely going to visit your website before anything else.Therefore,to reiterate
what’s already been said, your website must be optimized for a mobile device.
• Once arriving on your site,visitors are going to be looking for verification that it’s what they are looking for.It’s key that
you establish trust and confidence in your brand almost instantly.
• Also popular as a choice of what to do first for some categories is to call or visit the location — consider providing
these details in a clear and obvious place in your listings to verify you are locally established, and easily reachable.
• Sharing the business information with friends is one of the least likely things people will do after selecting a business
— it is an action that is generally seen as a personal recommendation or a social vote, and most people are not
willing to do this until they have at least visited the business themselves, and even then, it’s not likely until a positive
experienced has occurred. While it’s not the first action that people will take, if you provide a good online experience
and a good purchase experience, you still want social sharing options to be obvious and compelling on your site to
encourage sharing after a good experience.
Q10: If you are on foot, how far are you willing to travel when searching for the
following types of local businesses?
The majority of participants were willing to travel up to 1km on foot to reach their selected business. Participants were willing
to travel farthest for Personal Care businesses (13% would travel more than 5km) and the least distance for Automotive &
Transportation, and Home & Garden businesses.
Q11: If you have a vehicle, how far are you willing to travel when searching for
the following types of local businesses?
The majority of participants were willing to travel between 5 and 20 km in a vehicle to reach their selected business.
Participants were willing to travel farthest for Travel & Lodging businesses, followed by Construction, Renovation & Repairs,
and the least distance for Financial & Legal, and Food & Beverage businesses.
Distance plays an important role in people’s decisions to chose a business.Hyperlocal mobile targeting within 100 metres
of locations is possible — you can encourage people to come into your business with discounts or offers. If your business
is not centrally located, focus on other benefits of visiting your location over one closer.
Q12: How soon after searching for the following types of local businesses
would you call or visit?
• Participants indicated they would call or visit Food & Beverage businesses the fastest (47% within 1 hour or less),
followed by Shopping, Automotive & Transportation, and Personal Care.
• Participants indicated they would call or visit Construction, Renovation & Repairs businesses the slowest (23%
within 1 week,15% more than 1 week),followed by Arts & Entertainment,Home & Garden,and Sports & Recreation.
• These results follow the theme we have been seeing that the categories where the businesses that provide products
and services to fulfill an immediate need (such as Shopping,Food & Beverage,Personal Care) would be the businesses
that were called or visited the quickest, with the opposite being the case for Construction, Renovation & Repairs
• It’s important to know how quickly people are likely to take action as this will influence the type of call-to-action (CTA)
that takes prominence in your listings. For instant-gratification categories, where people are likely to take action
within an hour, CTAs should be immediate (“Call Now”,“Visit Now Only 1km Away”) or focused on offers to make your
business a more likely choice than a competitor (10% discount code valid today only”).
• Where action will take longer,CTAs can be less focused on immediacy,such as“Request a Quote Now”for Construction,
Renovation & Repairs businesses, or “Compare Prices” for an Electronics business.
in the past 12 months, please rank the importance of each type of information
in helping you choose a business.
#1 #2 #3 Least Important
Arts & Entertainment Price Products, services or menu Location Phone Number
Products, services or menu Price Location Phone Number
Renovation & Repairs
Products, services or menu Price Ratings & Reviews Phone Number
Electronics Price Products, services or menu Ratings & Reviews Phone Number
Financial & Legal Products, services or menu Location Ratings & Reviews Pictures/Videos
Food & Beverage Products, services or menu Price Location Phone Number
Health & Medicine Products, services or menu Location Ratings & Reviews Pictures/Videos
Home & Garden Products, services or menu Price Location Phone Number
Personal Care Products, services or menu Price Location Phone Number
Shopping Products, services or menu Price Location Phone Number
Sports & Recreation Products, services or menu Location Price Phone Number
Travel & Lodging Price Location Products, services or menu Phone Number
• Convenience seems to be the key factor in making a decision to solve an immediate-gratification need. Does the
business have what I want? Is the price right? Is it located nearby? Whereas the business itself may feel a phone
number is a key piece of information that should be displayed prominently in order to encourage phone calls to
the location, from a customer’s point of view, that’s not as important People searching for the business online are
looking for information that can help make a purchase decision. As a business, it’s important not to be a step ahead
of the customer — help them make the decision to choose you, before giving them the means to contact you.
• Recommendations in the form of ratings and reviews are more important than price in the categories of Health &
Medicine,and Financial & Legal,showing that people are less likely to choose the cheaper option,and quality is more
important — the risks of “getting it wrong” outweigh potential cost savings. For businesses in these categories, it’s
important to encourage feedback from satisfied customers as this will help sway the decision for new customers.
• Ratings and reviews are also a factor to consider alongside price for big ticket items such as Electronics and
Construction, Renovation and Repairs — people are looking for the validation that they are choosing a reputable
company, but it’s not a decision where “money is no object”.
It’s important to understand exactly what is important to your customers in making a decision to choose a business,
not what is important to you.
Q14: How trustworthy are online ratings and reviews of the following types of
• In general, participants felt online ratings and reviews were somewhat to mostly trustworthy, with Financial & Legal
scoring slightly lower than the other business categories.
• There may be a belief that online ratings and reviews are not legitimate — after all, anyone can post a testimonial on
a website and hope others will believe it to be true.
• With the introduction of Facebook Graph Search, social reviews and recommendations are going to become much
more important to rankings,and will have much more clout when it comes to influencing people’s decisions to chose
a business.Facebook ‘Likes’ demonstrate a social vote and alerts friends to the fact that you are socially nominating
the business, so you need to start encouraging more people to Like you.
• Examples of ways to encourage more Likes include adding a Like button to other online brand assets such as email,
website etc., as well as offline physical collateral such as menus, posters, etc. Run Facebook advertising campaigns
which can be very inexpensive and can convert more people to Like your business.Increase your social activity to give
people more reason to Like your page (post interesting comments, stories, images, etc).
Q15: How often do you “check-in” — that is, post to a social network or app
that you are at a specific business?
• 45% of the participants who completed the survey indicated that they have never checked-in to a business. Of those
people, 64% were over the age of 34.
• 20% of participants indicated that they check-in to a business at least once a week. Of those, 45% were in the age
range of 18-34.
• Of the 9.9% of people who said they check-in almost every day or more than once a day, 55% are in the age range of
“Checking-In”on Facebook by its true
definition means using the Check-In
feature to announce your location.
Some people, however, consider
tagging your location in your status
to also mean “checking-in”.
The resulting post is however the
same, therefore for the purposes of
this study we will consider all forms
of identifying location as being
The same applies for Twitter where
tagging your location in a tweet is
What is “Checking-In”?
Q16: Which of the following apps do you use to “check-in” at a business?
• Facebook is by far the most popular app for checking in, although this may not be true “checking-in” by its definition,
but rather people posting that they are at a specific business (see examples on the previous page).
• Surprisingly, Google+ was the second most popular, followed by Twitter, which in itself is surprising given that there is
no actual“check-in”capability on Twitter,only the ability to tag a location,which is what we believe people interpreted
as “checking-in” (see examples on the previous page).
Q17:When you visit each of the following types of businesses,how often do you
• Shopping and Food & Beverage were the most frequent check-in categories.These tend to be the categories that can
easily run check-in promotions, giveaways and discounts.
• Construction, Renovation & Repairs was the least frequent check-in category — many businesses in this category
do not have check-in capabilities. It’s not an immediate-gratification category, therefore the types of promotions that
work well in other categories would not apply here in the same way.
Q18: Why do you check-in at a business?
• “Checking-In” is clearly a trend of the younger generation, with the majority of the activity happening in the 18-34
age range. Digital Natives (usually 30 and under) are those who have grown up immersed in technology, therefore it
would make sense that people within the 18-34 age range are those that are more open to trying new technologies
and experiment socially online.
• Check-ins will influence the Facebook Graph Search results shown if people are searching for “Restaurants [or
another type of business] my friends have been to”. Make sure your business is shown in local results by claiming a
Facebook page for each location so that people can actually check-in.
• If you’re targeting an older demographic,you may want to consider how checking-in features in your digital strategy.If
it’s important to you,perhaps consider educating the older generation on how,and more importantly why they should
check-in to your business.
• The popularity of Google+ Local as an app to use for checking-in means that it’s even more important to have your
Google+ Local/Places pages optimized for visibility online.
• If people are regularly tagging your location on Twitter,ensure you maintain a strong presence on the platform to keep
the level of interest up — tweet regularly, respond to people’s comments, offer incentives and discounts, encourage
positive reviews etc.
• For other applications,just because the numbers of check-ins are very low,it doesn’t mean they should be discounted
as a source of potential customers. Some people prefer not to use mainstream applications. It depends on what the
other apps offer. It would be worthwhile checking the demographics of the people who do use those applications to
see if they can fit into your digital strategy.
• Be prepared to think outside the box when it comes to your check-in or social strategy — competing with discounts
and promotions will only get you so far. It has to be backed up with excellent customer service, and something more
than money savings to keep loyal customers who are not just coming to your business because it offers the best deal
on that particular day.
The most common reason for checking-in is to get discounts or coupons,closely followed by to discover interesting things
around you. This clearly signals that customer loyalty is dissipating — with a new deal or a bigger discount just a click
away, it’s harder than ever for businesses to keep loyal customers without investing the money needed to compete with
MOBILE USERS ONLINE SURVEY RESponseslive user observations - lab RESULTS
Intended to gather qualitative insight into behaviours and to determine
which parts of a listing are important
• The Lab Study
• Count Heat Maps
• Relative Heat Maps
• Gaze Maps
• Eye-Tracking:User Behaviour and Key Takeaways
• Usability of Apps
The Lab Study
To re-cap, participants were asked 12 questions regarding their local search behaviour online. Each participant then
completed 5 tasks on either the iPhone 4 or Samsung Nexus S, repeated 6 times for each app:
• Imagine you need to deposit a cheque. Please use _______ to find a branch of your bank.
• Imagine you need to buy a new pair of shoes. Please use _______ to find a store where you could buy some.
• Imagine you’re looking for a somewhere to eat dinner tonight. Please use ________ to find one.
• Imagine you need to find a plumber who can come here to fix a leaky pipe. Please use ______ to find one.
• Imagine you need to buy a new pair of jeans. Please use _______ to find a store where you could buy some.
After each task, the participant was asked “Why did you choose that result?”
Participants used the apps in a random order each time.
The table below shows the results for one participant for the“Plumber”task to show a sample of the types of information
that was collected:
Phone: iPhone 4
Search Term Action Taken
Google Search “plumber toronto downtown” Scrolled through places listings. Picked one with a convincing name.
Google App “plumber” Picked a result that was closest.
Google Maps “plumber toronto downtown” Chose a result.
Facebook “plumber” Eventually chose first one as it was simple.
Yellow Pages “plumbers” Picked the 3rd result as liked the name.
Yelp “on call plumber” Picked a result that had the number listed and was close.
Count Heat Maps
Count Heat Maps shows the amount of views that the areas on the screen garnered. The red areas are those areas that
had the most views, followed by yellow, and green.
This page shows a sample of the count heat maps taken from the Android and iPhone.These are the results of the “Bank”
task on each app/browser.
Android iPhone Android iPhone
Yellow Pages Yelp
Google Search App
Note: What is shown on the screen is representative — it’s possible that each participant saw different results because they were free
to use whatever search term they wanted.
Relative Heat Maps
Relative Heat Maps show the amount of time spent looking at an area on the screen as a percentage of the time that was
spent looking at the entire page.
This page shows a sample of the relative heat maps taken from the Android and iPhone. These are the results of the
“Restaurant” task on each app/browser.
Android iPhone Android iPhone
Yellow Pages Yelp
Google Search App
Gaze Maps: Android
Gaze maps show the path that participants’ eyes took across the page. The numbers indicate the order of the gazes, and
the size of the circles indicate the length of time that the gaze was held.
This page shows samples of the gaze maps taken from the Android, and are the results of the “Shoes” task.
Google Browser Facebook
Google Search App
Yellow Pages Yelp
Note:These images show the first 5 seconds for a single participant.
Gaze Maps: iPhone
Google Browser Facebook
Google Search App
Yellow Pages Yelp
This page shows samples of the gaze maps taken from the iPhone, and are also the results of the “Shoes” task.
Eye-Tracking User Behaviour and Key Takeaways
• Searches with specific brands (i.e., most of the bank
searches) do not show much vertical scanning – the
result people are looking for is typically at the top (see
• For lists of results,there is pretty consistent scanning
down the left edge of the text, with quick glances at
distances and images.
• When looking at a map (e.g., Google Maps), searchers
tend to focus their gaze in the middle of the screen
and move the map accordingly (see image 2).
• Local searching in the browser does exhibit more
of a triangle behaviour than in local search apps.
This could be because there are still organic search
results that have titles that people scan, rather than
just business names (see images 3 and 4).
• For longer lists of results, searchers tend to keep
their eyes relatively still near the middle of the screen
and scroll through the content, rather than looking
from top to bottom, scrolling, and looking from top to
• When specifically looking for the “closest” of
something, there is naturally more focus on the
• Step by step behaviours tend to be:
1.Read titles until something interesting is found
2. Glance at star rating
3. Glance at distance or image
Image 1 - Specific Brand (Bank) Search
Image 2 - Map
Image 3 - Browser Image 4 - Search App
Eye-Tracking User Behaviour and Key Takeaways
Why Participants Chose Particular Results
• Proximity (or assumed proximity – “the first result
is the closest one” even though this isn’t always the
case). Even for plumbers, participants wanted one
that could get there quickly.
• Familiarity. Participants chose businesses that they
had been to before, or brands that they knew or
friends had talked about.
• Knowledge of Area (e.g., Queen St. W. shoe stores,
Eaton Centre). This was especially true for retail —
participants chose a store in an area where they knew
they could visit other stores if they didn’t find what
they were looking for in the first one.
• Ratings/Reviews. However this was only really true
for restaurants and plumbers. It wasn’t as important
in retail choices, and it was not a factor at all for
• The “Best” of Something. In the Google search tasks,
there were a number of participants who chose the
“best jeans in TO” or “best shoe stores in TO” type
articles from BlogTO.com, lists from Yelp, etc.
• Other features that were particularly attractive,
especially in ads for plumbers were:
- 24-Hour Service
- On-Time Guarantees
• There is no longer the divide between online
and offline channels for reaching customers
as there once was. People are now online when
traditionally they would have been“offline”— that
is, when they are on-the-go they are still online
and connected,therefore for marketing strategies
to be effective, businesses must learn how to
combine the two channels into one.
• Distance has become much more of an important
factor in choosing search results as GPS in
smartphones has allowed distance to be relative
to where the searcher is at that present time.
Businesses should be leveraging this information
in content and ads to highlight their proximity and
• Searchers do not glance at the results page
for long, therefore to have any chance of being
chosen, businesses must stand out — given
that many searchers type their search as the
“Best of...” something it would be a good idea for
businesses to build this type of content into their
website and directory listings. If you have any of
the features listed to the left, ensure they are
clear and prominent in your listings to encourage
your business to be chosen over a competitor.
Ratings and reviews are particularly
important when searching for restaurants
Usability of Apps
• Auto-suggest was used a lot — apps must ensure
that the suggestions make sense.
• Most popular filters were distance and ratings. A few
participants also commented that they liked seeing
price estimates (e.g., the $$ in Yelp) and being able to
filter/see what was currently open.
• In most apps, distances were in miles, even though
this study took place in Canada.
than others as this helped searchers determine how
much selection there was.
• Apps need to allow for location information to be
entered into search box — either a street name,
intersection, or neighbourhood – as searchers don’t
always know not to include it, or they might be trying
to refine their results down from the city level.
• In most apps, choosing a result from auto-suggest
or pressing the “Done” button on the keyboard
doesn’t execute the search — the searcher still has
to press the Search/Find button. In the lab study
several participants were observed waiting to see if
something was happening before realizing that they
had to press the button.
• The back button on the Android device didn’t always
behave the way searchers thought it would —
sometimes it went right back to the start page when
they only wanted to go back to the previous screen.
One participant commented that he would also like
the ability to go forward to a page he’d been to before.
• Quick links are good — many participants used
the “Restaurants” quick link that all apps provided,
several used Banks/ATMs (although this presented
some challenges, because they were specifically
looking for their bank but had to scroll through the
list of all banks to find it),and several attempted to go
through the categories for Shopping (shoes/jeans —
shoes was trickier because no app has a“shoe stores”
category under Shopping).
• The ability to switch between Map and List views
needs to be clearer — icons are not clear enough,and
searchers get frustrated tapping on individual pins on
• Showing business categories would be helpful,
especially when business names do not necessarily
convey what they do/sell (e.g., “Groovy”, “Livestock”,
“Get Outside” for shoe stores).
• Searchers want to see both the distance and the
address in the results — many used the address to
gauge whether it was worth going to, whether it was
near other things, whether it was in an area they’re
familiar with or like etc.
• Showing a major intersection along with address in
the business details helps searchers figure out where
the business is, rather than guessing based on the
• The map embedded in Google search results is not
easy to interact with.Searchers expect it to be as fluid
as the native map application, and it’s not. It’s slower
to respond, and many of the participants who used
the map tried to tap on the pins to see more details.
• Google search for the bank task led many participants
to click through to the branch locator tool on the
bank’s website, not places results.
Google Local App
• The Google Local app shows the direction as a
small arrow in addition to the distance. Although no
participants commented on this, it is a nice feature.
• Many participants tried tapping on the “Local”
heading at the top of the Google Local app to open the
search box, however, this doesn’t do anything, so then
they got confused. It took several participants a while
to realize that you had to tap on the magnifying glass.
Some only discovered the search box by going into a
category, where it is then visible.
What participants liked about the apps, and what they would like to see improved
Usability of Apps
• Participants expected businesses to be listed by
just chose the first result,even if it wasn’t actually the
• Most searchers were very frustrated with Facebook
Nearby search. In the study, 90% of the users had to
be guided to the “Nearby” function after they tried to
search using the regular search tool. Even then, they
sometimes went back to the regular search tool and
were frustrated again.
• Facebook needs to get businesses on board if it’s
going to have any chance of successfully competing in
the local search space — it’s good for restaurants and
satisfactory for shopping, but the data is so limited.
• Facebook also needs to tie local search into its regular
search feature — this issue is likely to be addressed
when Graph Search is rolled out to mobile, but right
now there’s a big disconnect.
• Facebook images are important — searchers were
apt to choose the result that they assumed was the
official business — e.g., for banks it was generally
assumed that the result with the bank logo and the
most likes must be the business’ official page, even if
it wasn’t and the pictures were added by users.
• There was some confusion for a few searchers over
what determines whether a business gets a pin, a big
dot, or a little dot.
• Several searchers were observed having to lean in
indicating that perhaps the dots are too small.
• Showing ratings/reviews in map view would be helpful
— this is something that Yelp does.
enough from other icons to make it clear enough.
• There seems to be some issues with multiple listings.
For example, one shoe store (Getoutside) has a listing
for each of the brands they carry; one bank (RBC at
King & Spadina) has two listings — one with the
street address and one with the suite number and
• On an Android device it’s not possible to pinch to zoom
on the map, and users have to use terrible controls.
System Usability Scale Scores
The System Usability Scale is a widely used measurement
of usability. It is platform and interface independent. The
raw SUS score is out of 100,but it’s not a percentage – that
is, a score of 70 on the SUS doesn’t mean that it’s better
than 70% of the apps out there. Collecting SUS scores
from all of the participants for all the apps provides a
basis for comparing user satisfaction between the 6 apps
looked at in the study.
Overall, the Google browser scored the highest SUS
score, and Facebook scored the lowest. The three Google
properties tested were the top three overall in terms of
perceived usability (Browser, Local App and Maps).
Looking only at Android devices, the scores for the top five
properties were relatively similar, differing by 10 points
from the first to the fifth. Only Facebook was significantly
lower.The scores were more spread out on iPhones.
Local search apps are simply not advanced enough
to meet users’ needs. A huge gap exists between the
requirements of end-users for local search and what the
apps can deliver. It’s not stopping people from using the
apps, but it’s frustrating and slow for them. If apps can
catch up to user requirements there is huge potential for
growth in usage with smartphone users.
Implications for Businesses
• One of the key takeaways from this study,is that when
it comes to local marketing, one size definitely does
not fit all. Local marketing strategies are dependent
on the business category, the demographics of the
target market, the business’ location(s), and the
products or services offered. A tailored approach on
a per-business basis is the only way to ensure the
digital strategy meets the needs of each individual
business in order to reach the right audience at the
• Different touch-points will work better for different
business verticals, but one thing that every business
in every category must ensure is the accuracy of
the business’ information across all web properties,
directories and listings. This is critical. It needs to
be 100% clear to searchers what you do, where your
business is located, and how to contact you. If this
information is not consistent, not only will your brand
itself be eroded, but your audience’s trust in your
brand will also be eroded.
• Having a website optimized for mobile search and
mobile usability is no longer optional. The fact of
the matter is, people are searching on their mobile
devices,and they expect businesses to have websites
that respond to mobile devices. If your website is
not mobile-optimized, it would be a wise investment
to plan for as you could be losing many potential
customers who simply do not have time to wrestle
with a desktop website rendering on a mobile device.
A common comment from the lab participants was,
however, that they didn’t like current mobile sites
because they were limited in content or functionality.
So it’s important that a mobile site or mobile-
optimized content be just as rich as the desktop
• Map applications are a popular method of conducting
a local search for some categories. Map information
is pulled from Google Places/Google+ Local pages,
therefore in order to appear higher in the map results,
it is critical that you have claimed your page, and that
it is up-to-date and well-optimized with the correct
category, pictures, video, reviews and ratings.
from home, it cannot be assumed that people are
always “on-the-go” when they are using their phones
for conducting a search. Smartphones are replacing
online. It’s often easier to reach for your phone than
power up a desktop computer. In these cases, trying
to identify the searcher’s intent from the keywords
used is more important than location.
• The findings show how important it is to think like
your customers, and discover what information they
are trying to find when they search for businesses.
Provide the information your customers are looking
for, and encourage further action from searchers.
Tailor your offers and message to the search intent of
• Social influence on user behaviour is almost organic
because of Facebook usage. It is the most widely
used social media platform, therefore user behaviour
online, and specifically mobile behaviour, is naturally
going to be influenced by social.With the introduction
of Facebook Graph Search, social reviews and
recommendations are going to become much more
important in rankings, and will have more clout when
it comes to influencing people’s decisions to chose
a business. Marketers can no longer consider social
an after-thought to digital strategy as it plays such
a major role in influencing multiple aspects of the
• Distance has a major influence on people’s decisions
to chose one business over another, especially in
categories that are immediately self-gratifying such
as Food & Beverage, Shopping, and Personal Care.
• As mobile usage continues to grow, and local
searches make up a larger portion of searches,
marketers and their apps need to better meet users’
needs and requirements at producing quality local
search results that are easy to interpret and act upon.
• Marketing channels can no longer be thought of in
terms of online and offline — there is just one channel
now.Marketing strategies must reflect this,which can
be a huge challenge for many businesses, especially
small, local businesses with limited resources.
Ask One Of Mediative’s Digital
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increasingly on-the-go consumer audience right where they
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Watch the video for more information: