Bill Haeck, Director of Digital Experience Development, explains how to win the Local Activation game
While e-commerce continues to grow as a sales channel, most sales still happen in the local marketplace. Yet, many businesses are missing or ignoring a key element of the customer experience when it comes to brand choice — the role of local search and reviews in driving brick-and-mortar conversion.
Local Activation — managing searches with local intent — offers a significant advantage in directing “ready to buy” customers to your business instead of your competitor down the street.
Understanding local intent
We use our mobile devices to ask “where’s the closest pharmacy?” At home on our desktop, we Google “where’s the closest (insert your favorite retail brand)?” Year over year, searches with the term “near me” or “closest to me” are up 34%, and Google estimates 56% of searches have “local intent.”
Common sense tells us that consumers performing these searches are low-hanging fruit. They are likely in “buy” mode. In fact, ComScore found 50% of local searches end in a purchase. What’s more, 80% of all local searches on mobile devices convert, and 20% of local mobile searches convert to sales within 24 hours.
The question isn’t are mobile searchers going to buy, but are they going to buy from you?
The money you allocate to bring them the last mile is some of the most efficient marketing dollars you can spend.
3 ways to effectively activate your “ready to buy” local customers
1. Check your visibility
- So how do you reach your audience at this critical step? First, in that moment of truth, you have to be visible as your potential customer is looking for a local store to meet an immediate need. In a typical Google local search result, we see three listings below the map in the center of the page — the Local 3-Pack. Not surprisingly, Local Packs garner a majority of the clicks because of placement on the page. So, having your brand appear in the Local Pack equals visibility. But how do you get in?
- Showing up in the Local Pack is heavily based on the overall “health” of your online business listings. The key is Local Listing Management — making your business appear in more local search engine results. While there are many ways to do this, the most important factor is ensuring that when search engines crawl the web, they find accurate, consistent information about your local store (address, name, phone number, hours, etc.).
2. Audit, repair, repeat
- This can be a daunting task — made doubly difficult because not all the information is under your control, nor does any of it happen in a static environment. The information on the web changes regularly. So left unattended, the local listing accuracy you have one day is likely to be compromised the next week. That’s why most companies with a significant number of local stores pair an SEO specialist with listings management platforms like Moz Local or SweetIQ to continually audit, repair and manage their listings’ presence. Without such a program, you risk being persona non grata in that moment when the consumer’s wallet is close at hand.
3. Maximize your relevance
- Succeeding at visibility through Local Listings Management is key to winning the local search game, but Local Activation is a two-part play. Sure, visibility gets you noticed, but equally important is what you’re shining the spotlight on. To be relevant, you need to pair visibility with positive reviews. Remember, the Local Pack highlights reviews. In fact, a location won’t even show up in Google unless there are at least five reviews.
- We’re trained to look for star ratings and are more inclined to purchase from businesses with good reviews. According to BrightLocal, star reviews are the #1 factor used to judge a business — 92% of consumers use online reviews, and 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more. Money spent driving visibility is wasted if you’re appearing but not putting your best foot forward with positive reviews. When it comes to the Local Pack, generally no matter how good your individual store results might be, aggregators (Yelp, Google+, Facebook) own the first few listings.
- And the way they operate makes review quality even more critical. Searchers have the option to only see results within certain parameters, such as top reviews. We’re continually seeing more pages where Google is providing results this way — the ultimate link between visibility and relevancy.
- So, how do you manage reviews?
- While that’s an article in itself, there are a host of platforms emerging, such as MARCket Mass Advocacy™, that enable you to monitor and manage reviews across Yelp, Google+, Facebook, etc. and provide tools for improving and collecting positive reviews.
The bottom line
If you have local stores, master both elements of Local Activation to steer your most motivated consumers through your door and away from your competitors.
- • Win the visibility game with effective listings management
- • Ensure that you show up — and show up positively — by monitoring and improving your reviews across aggregators
Want to learn more about MARCket Mass Advocacy™ and Local Activation? Contact Bill.