What Does Starbucks' Success With Mobile-First Customers Say About Local Search?

Starbucks has held a firm grip on the coffee and beverage food service market in the U.S. for some time. As the chain grew from small beginnings in the Pacific Northwest to an international presence in a wide variety of different local markets, it developed a strong brand identity and consumer engagement program. In recent months, Starbucks' focus on mobile as a tool to connect with customers, enhance loyalty and drive sales - and the success of that approach - has attracted the attention of many different people and organizations involved in marketing.

Encouraging Customer Interactions, Loyalty

Despite Starbucks' firm roots in face-to-face commerce, the chain had 21 percent of its total fourth-quarter sales - about $1 billion - come from mobile transactions through its proprietary app, according to Internet Retailer. The chain processes about 5 million mobile transactions each week and CEO Howard Schultz believes Starbucks is uniquely positioned for success in both mobile-based marketing and purchasing.

"Starbucks occupies a front-row seat at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds like no other company anywhere in or out of retail," Schultz said of the chain's positioning on a recent earnings call, according to Internet Retailer.

The company has recognized the importance of mobile as an enduring and important component of the market and did so early on - even though Starbucks neither will nor can move away from face-to-face interactions as the backbone of its business. Schultz said the company positioned itself as a leader in that area because the economy is moving toward more mobile commerce and more use of that channel as the first resort for consumers, Internet Retailer said. The company has plans to extend the reach of its mobile platform via a streaming music partnership with Spotify, among other improvements, to keep consumers engaged.

A Top Priority

Starbucks' gains in the realm of community level, localized mobile marketing and commerce is partially the result of its unique positioning as a very large company that does the vast majority of its business through individual storefront locations. The presence of Starbucks in so many neighborhoods - whether in a customer's home town, near their place of work or by the hotel while on vacation - helps the company develop a sense of loyalty and engagement that's hard to beat. A strong focus on building convenient mobile touch points and strengthening mobile SEO has facilitated the growth of Starbucks' customer base as well.

While the omnipresence of Starbucks is hard for many businesses to replicate for a variety of issues, all companies can learn something from the coffee chain's dedication to mobile. No matter how many franchisees or corporate-owned locations a company licenses or operates, there are certain local marketing and SEO tactics that help all types of organizations.

Building a Meaningful Mobile Presence

Businesses shouldn't look to follow directly in Starbucks' footprints - company-specific mobile apps are rarely successful in the way Starbucks' is - but should learn the undeniable and growing importance of mobile will have a major impact on their operations. The unique considerations of multi-location companies must also be considered.

MomentFeed offers the support, knowledge and ability to help multi-location businesses succeed with local and mobile SEO and mobile marketing overall. We make sure the right approaches are implemented to improve search results, engage with customers on the local community level, provide locational and contact information in an accurate, consistent way and much more. Our work with local pages, metadata, content, local audiences and proprietary data helps each individual location develop and maintain a unique identity and connect with consumers whether they're mobile-first or more traditional in their approach.