Consumers’ local search habits are getting more sophisticated than ever.  Competition is fierce, and businesses need to be prepared with the right information and experience their customers are looking for on smartphones, tablets and PC/laptops.

This was the fundamental learning from the 7th Annual Local Search Study conducted by Neustar and 15miles, which polled 4,000 users of local business search sites to gain deeper understanding into the relationship between local search and devices.

Here are 10 key findings that businesses should consider in their local search marketing efforts:

1. Local searchers turn to multiple devices to find what they need.
According to the survey, 63% of searchers use multiple devices to find local businesses. In fact, a 79% of mobile phone users and 81 % of tablet owners use their devices in local search.

2. Local search drives sales for local businesses.
Over ½ of all local searches end in a purchase, with nearly 80% for mobile searches. 73% of these mobile sales were in-store purchases.

3. Local businesses and consumers are out of sync on mobile search expectations
The mobile search user experience still has a lower satisfaction rate than its PC, laptop and tablet equivalents.

4. Local searchers want a better mobile local search experience
More than half the consumers in this survey, 54 percent, stress the importance of mobile site design

5. Customers use mobile for immediate, on-the go local searching.
27% of mobile local searches are to find a business’ location, with 13% specifically for driving directions.

6. Mobile Phones are used by searchers who know what they want and fast.
51% are looking for information on a specific business, product or service, with 4/5 of searches ending in a purchase  ̶  most within hours.

7. Tablet search functionality might be influenced by the time of day.
44 percent of tablet traffic occurs after 5 pm, when users perhaps find it harder to reach brick-and-mortar stores.

8. Tablets are carving out a new role as high-level, educational search devices.
41% of tablet-owning local searchers use them to compare local businesses and services to each other.

9. Customers continue to rely on PC/Laptop as reliable devices for in-depth local searching.
85% of local searches on portal sites (Google, Yahoo and Bing).

10. Top categories for local search differ by device.
Restaurants are the most popular search for smartphones, while shops lead the way for tablets.