If trends in media marketing spend are anything to go by, businesses are going local. Local advertising spend is predicted to reach $157.7bn by 2019, a 14% cumulative increase of $139.4 billion in 2015, according to BIA/Kelsey’s US Local Media Forecast 2015. Business marketers are increasingly realising that their local stores or dealerships now own the brand relationship with the customer, and this is what needs to be nurtured. What’s driving this change is the mobile consumer, who is using multiple devices to search for local business or service information, and shop locally. Mobile buying propensity has never been greater. Industry estimates show that mobile calls to businesses will leap from 93.8bn in 2015, to 161.9bn in 2019, which represents almost a 75% increase in the next four years. The tech giants of this world, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have leapt on board with these developments, providing local businesses with new tools and updated features, to build a mobile presence and communicate with their customers more easily. With mobile connections and usage so high, the average consumer now expects local business information to be available at their fingertips. Now is the time for businesses to have their local marketing strategy in order, if it isn’t already. Here are the top five considerations multi-locations businesses should be aware of, to ensure they don’t get left behind…
- Listing management
Accurate, up-to-date business information forms the crux of local marketing success. Multi-location businesses must check the accuracy of their business listings, including name, address, phone number, email address, images, maps and opening hours. Ensuring a consistent company name, for example, across all data points, is crucial for being found locally. Additionally, businesses need to claim their local listings to ensure information is accurate, and also to verify the account. The places listings can be claimed from include Google My Business, Facebook business pages, Foursquare for business and Bing places for business. If this data is accurate advertisers can link the information to their PPC activity via location extensions. Brands can communicate their location and phone number without paying for the click.
- Local SEO
Google has shown recently that the ‘local pack’ is gaining in importance, and its search algorithms allocate increasing importance to location. Consequently it has become more important for businesses to optimise local landing pages with information that is relevant to the location, and so that they can be found on their own as well as through the main brand site. Businesses therefore need to localise how their site is coded. Pages should always include titles and meta descriptions in the local language, optimised for the key terms most likely to be used by customers in a specific area. They should also localise on-page business content to include trading hours, driving directions, and local descriptions. Brands should perform keyword research for every store location. Long-tail terms are where local businesses should be setting their sights, which are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are often likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase or conversion. However, the search volumes for long-tail terms are significantly less than generic terms, so businesses should be aiming to rank for a high number of them. It is important that local SEO data is current and fed to online directories such as Yell.com, since search engines cross-verify their data with such sites. When the data matches, it becomes trusted, verified data and results in better rankings.
- Local landing pages
It’s important that each business location, or store, has its own landing page. For local search, the intent of the user is different. Searchers are looking for very specific services or information in a very specific area. They want to know store opening times, products stocked, local images and contact details. It’s therefore important that those designing local landing pages are mindful of the content and design that will be relevant to very specific local searches. Additionally, it’s important to take a mobile-first approach. Local landing pages should have a mobile-only interface or a responsive interface, where one website fits all screen sizes. Also, incorporating trackable local phone numbers can help businesses to capture the mobile consumer that wants to contact local businesses while on the move. Relevant local landing pages will have an impact on both PPC and SEO. PPC will benefit from the greater relevancy and quality score, while SEO rankings should see an uplift by having pages that match local queries with accurate on page mark-up.
- Online reputation management
Nearly 90% of consumers trust online review sites as much as personal recommendations. Negative local reviews can damage a brand perception at a national level if they are not properly addressed. The review rating is one of many ranking factors Google uses within its local listing ranking algorithm. The better the rating the more chance of ranking higher in the web search or map results. The best way to increase the number of positive reviews being written about a brand’s locations is to ask customers to write them. Businesses can make it easy to do so by including a widget or button that offers one-click access to review writing.
- Social media
Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest offer an increasing array of location-specific marketing opportunities for businesses. These cover both paid and organic media. For example Facebook recently updated its business pages, for the 45 million businesses already actively using the social network. The changes, it said, were focused on helping businesses to build their mobile presence and communicate with customers more easily, particularly via a new and more prominent ‘call to action’ button.