An efficient local online marketing strategy is not just for Christmas. Today’s consumer is a local consumer; a trend that may have been exaggerated by Corona, but is by no means a result of. In 2018, mobile searches for shopping ’near me’ had already increased by over 200% in just two years. Now these figures have rocketed further still, as more than half of Google searches have a local intent. Even long after the current crisis has settled, local online marketing is not going to go away. Marketers need to take action now in order to compete and give consumers the seamless ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience they have come to expect.
The key is a multi-channel approach, with offline purchases beginning and ending online. Whilst today’s consumers are still shopping in-store, they are doing online local search beforehand. This means consumers know exactly what they want before making the commitment to go in-store and buy it. But the brand experience doesn't stop here. Uberall consumer research discovered that almost half (47%) then go home to write a review of their experience, so local online marketing efforts need to continue throughout the whole customer lifecycle.
There are a sack-full of local online marketing tactics you can implement to entice festive shoppers to your locations and keep them coming back due to an exceptional 'Near Me' Brand Experience. We delve into 12 simple tactics that you can implement this very day to make your locations stand out from the competition during the holidays and beyond.
1. Dominate local search with seasonal keywords
Keywords are just as essential for your store locator pages and local listings as they are for any other piece of online content. In fact, the 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, found that on-page signals make up 32% of localised organic ranking factors.
Whether it’s product information on the most converted Christmas jumper, an in-store Christmas craft workshop or even seasonal job vacancies, optimise your store locator pages and local listings to include relevant keywords and make an impact on local search results.
Driving content to relevant sites for your location and market will help search engines understand how to accurately position your business. So, focus on creating keyword-driven content on the essential sites first, and then work down the list.
2. Attract local consumers with video content
Google research reveals that more than 60% of consumers use online video as a source of ideas and inspiration for their holiday purchases. This is a great opportunity for businesses to get in front of consumers whilst they conduct that all important local search, and help steer them in-store to cement a buying decision.
Adding videos to your local store pages and listings enables you to deliver fresh, seasonal content to consumers. Plus, with video content becoming a hot feature within Google My Business listings and posts, there is a strong evidence to suggest video is an influential local pack ranking factor. This means you have a greater chance of getting on Google’s all important 3-Pack!
3. Reveal high ranking products through local listings
Holiday shoppers want to know what they are buying before heading in-store. However, it seems that brands have a way to go to meet consumers’ expectations as research reveals 41% of shoppers wish stores would share their inventory more effectively.
Including your products and services to your listings and store locator pages gives you a fantastic opportunity to stay ahead of the competition, and establishes a strong 'Near Me' Brand Experience by giving consumers exactly what they are asking for.
To ensure you appear in local search results, include your bestsellers and those gifts on this years’ top Christmas present list. Take the opportunity to also push the products and services consumers might not be aware of, perhaps a new seasonal scent or even a new brand you’re stocking. They will only thank you for making their Christmas preparations as easy as possible.
4. Build brand confidence with price transparency
Adding prices to your products and services on local listings may just give you the competitive edge you need, as consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions. This will drive a greater brand experience, which means better online reviews and returning local customers.
Plus, it has a positive impact on local search rankings. Google My Business (GMB) signals account for 33% of the criteria to make it into Google’s prestigious pack/finder results. So, it’s vitally important to make your Google listings as strong as possible, making use of all the available content tools, price lists and all!
5. Extend local search tactics to Facebook and Google
Consumers are looking to brands for holiday inspiration and ideas on social, so make sure it’s you they look to. Think of your local posts as free targeted advertising, reaching consumers just at the right time as they perform local search.
Tailor posts so they are both relevant and timely, on platforms such as Facebook location pages and Google My Business listings, using in-store offers and events that will attract more ready-to buy consumers to your locations.
Don’t forget to schedule posts during the Christmas period, while everyone is off. Consumers don’t take breaks when it comes to local search, so you don’t want to miss out!
6. Analyse to maintain an outstanding brand experience
The best way to understand what really matters to your consumers is to analyse your local online marketing efforts. Use insights from previous posts and track engagement through views and clicks. Of course, starting out there will be an element of trial and error in order to establish what performs better.
Producing varied content is the best way to see what works for your market and how you can maximise reach within local search. This could be anything, from posting a video revealing your in-store Christmas decorations to sharing an exclusive discount for last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve. Be creative and have fun with your posts, after all, that’s what the festivities are for!
7. Engage local consumers through Google listings
Google Questions & Answers allows businesses a direct line to communicate with consumers, answering their burning questions, which might ordinarily force them to look elsewhere. Businesses even have the ability to post their own Q&As. This means you can share relevant and tailored local information during the holidays, such as informing consumers that this Christmas’ most popular toy is in stock or confirming special in-store event hours. You can even get a good idea of consumer interest, by measuring up-votes, as well as the number of user answers.
The content within your Google Questions & Answers could become a valuable source of information in voice search, particularly for those using Google Home. So, it’s a good idea to be ahead of the game and populate your Google business listings with important FAQs now, adding seasonal insights that add value to your customers and local SEO metrics.
8. Build an unforgettable brand experience through online reviews
An Uberall consumer survey revealed that responding to online reviews is good for business, as 80% of consumers say they are likely to shop at a store that responds to reviews and cares about the customer journey.
This can be quite tricky, especially for larger businesses, however, with an effective review management strategy, you can can ensure you respond to all your reviews; positive and negative. This can include implementing a timeline based on star ratings to respond to reviews within a 72 hour period, or for businesses with multiple locations, setting approval workflows to have visibility of branch level responses.
For local search purposes, it’s a great idea to have keywords in your reviews. Ask your customers to review specific products and services you want to rank for, encouraging them to use certain seasonal words and phrases.
9. Don't damage your brand with incorrect opening hours
We talk about it a lot but it’s so important… your business listings need to be accurate and consistent all year round in order to found by consumers and search engines alike. This means alongside keeping your business-as-usual NAP details present and correct, you need to update local data according to any seasonal changes, such as opening hours.
If you don’t make any changes to your Google My Business listings due the holidays, local searchers are informed when a season ‘may affect opening hours’, which could damage consumer confidence and stop shoppers making the trip to your business.
10. Smash local search by building effective citations
A citation is a mention of a business location’s name and address on another webpage. Of course, the more citations you have, the more likely you are to found, which is why building strong citations is still a prominent signal in local search ranking.
Without an effective location marketing platform, this can be quite tricky. So to make this more manageable, identify the top 50 sites and directories and spend time focussing on building citations there, in order of priority. Like with domain authority, as the quality of the site decreases, the impact your citation has on local search reduces.
Don’t forget navigation apps as they are regularly used by 77% of smartphone owners. Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps are in the top three, so make sure they are on the priority list!
11. Apply local search tactics to improve paid ads
Local paid ads have the potential to steal the top spot of organic local search rankings. So including local advertising to your festive campaigns, alongside free local posts and other organic local SEO efforts, will make you unbeatable.
Using geo-targeting will ensure consumers find you when searching for a spot in the nearby area. While Facebook local awareness ads actually show consumers just how close they are to your location, giving them more reason to pop in and make a purchase.
When putting together your ad copy, try including distances from certain landmarks in the headline, such as 2 minutes from Trafalgar Square, so everyone in the area knows exactly where you are.
12. Use local online marketing data to explore new markets
Gathering information from your customers and location marketing efforts will supply you with invaluable data to execute successful targeted campaigns for each of your locations. Talk to your customers to find out what’s important to them during the festivities, how they respond to your brand and what they expect you to deliver.
You already have a bank of knowledge waiting for you to use, so collect data from your local online marketing efforts, including Google Questions & Answers, online reviews and engagement rates on local posts. All this data can help you reach existing customers and explore new markets, and as you learn you can tailor campaigns along the way, making them even more relevant.