27 Jul Localized Marketing Strategies for Multi-Location Companies and Services
Localized Marketing: Vital for Multi-Location Companies and Services
All marketing is local, with word-of-mouth recommendations worth their weight in gold. In today’s world, however, word-of-mouth marketing goes beyond the local coffee shop and into the digital realm. Considering 97 percent of people find local business information online and 88 percent of mobile searches on local businesses result in a call or visit within a day, a digital marketing strategy must include a “think local” mindset. But how does a localized marketing strategy come into play for multi-location businesses and services?
“Brands that fail to execute on a localized marketing strategy are less likely to appear prominently on search engines, ratings and review sites, and social networks … [resulting] in a lack of awareness of a brand’s location during that moment of need for a customer,” according to a Forrester report commissioned by SOCi (The Localized Marketing Imperative).
In addition to multi-location, brick-and-mortar stores, local services, such as accounting, legal, or children’s services, need to engage a “neighborhood marketing” mindset. Forrester’s survey of 154 multi-location marketing leaders found that most recognize the importance of localized marketing, but are not fully realizing their potential to execute a strategy that does so. The report outlines challenges and offers solutions for effective localized marketing strategies to reach customers in an increasingly competitive online space.
Challenges to Localized Marketing
- Insufficient resources to scale localized marketing — The sheer scale of managing local sites across multiple stores can quickly outpace a corporate marketing team’s ability to keep up.
- Organizational silos — The division of duties between a local team, corporate marketing and outside firms often means lack of coordination, collaboration and effective processes. Examples include responding to social comments, managing local page optimization and creating a local paid social media marketing campaign.
- Balancing national and local needs — Customizing content at the local level must be balanced with national brand consistency.
- Lack of location-specific insight — Interaction between a customer and company should focus on the local knowledge that builds trust and authenticity, instead of relying on a national marketing team that’s too far removed from the local scene.
The major obstacles center around who’s in charge of content, coordination of brand management and customer service, and creating a local voice that builds trust with the customer.
“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time,” said Ann Handley, author and digital marketing pioneer.
Localized Marketing Solutions
“Customers are used to quickly searching for decision-making information anywhere, at any time, and on any device, and they expect the results to be tailored by their location,” notes the Forrester report. To overcome the challenges listed above, the report makes these key recommendations to boost localized marketing effectiveness.
- Clearly define responsibilities — Multi-location businesses need to allocate responsibilities across local and corporate players so respective duties are understood and executed in a timely manner. A centralized model with corporate marketing may fail to tap into valuable local knowledge. A decentralized, local-only structure may misalign with corporate branding and miss out on valuable templates, messaging and marketing knowledge — and fail to channel their valuable local knowledge up to corporate marketers. The marketers surveyed agreed that a hybrid model (coordinating corporate and local owners via the right technology) is ideal.
- Educate and support all stakeholders — After a division of duties is clearly defined, it’s time to develop a local digital presence to boost SEO, social network presence and comprehensive local information on third-party sites. See the list below for ways to implement a localized marketing strategy.
- Identify and close ability gaps — Employing new technologies or services may be required to post efficiently across multiple locations in one platform. Creating and measuring local digital ad campaigns, interpreting data from website analytics tools and evaluating local user experience may require these technologies or services to measure implementation and effectiveness.
- Improve customer experience via each local customer interaction — Ensure each location is aware and empowered to respond to customer social posts, comments, reviews and questions in real time. Corporate marketing can provide templates and language, while local stores can educate corporate marketing teams with common customer pain points and solutions. Chatbots can answer common questions (like store hours or FAQs) to free up local employees to answer more complex questions.
Consider implementing these tips from Hubspot for The Ultimate Localized Marketing Strategy:
- Confirm your website is mobile-friendly. With over half of web searches taking place on mobile devices, prioritize making sure your website isn’t slow or awkward for mobile users.
- Localize your website. List your address, business hours, and phone number. Include a location page with listings and a map of all of your stores. Adding “custom t-shirt company in Dallas” versus “custom t-shirt company” can help drive local search results.
- Claim local listings on third-party websites and directories. Your credibility is boosted when you have updated profiles on Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare and industry-specific directories.
- Invest in local SEO. This is where creating local content is vital — highlighting local events, employee or customer features, and locally-relevant keywords. For example, “Buy your locally grown Texas-farmed strawberries this summer from ABC Grocery” versus “buy your strawberries at ABC Grocery.”
- Localize paid advertising. Include your city name or neighborhood in your listings when possible.
- Go local on social media. One of the easiest ways to engage customers locally includes quick, efficient and immediate social media content that builds awareness and trust. Highlight local promotions, employee profiles and respond to comments or questions in a timely manner.
- Be active in your community. Sponsorships, local events and non-profit engagement helps your neighbors recognize you as a valuable part of the community.
- Don’t forget local media. Advertising on your local radio station or newspaper, or pitching an event helps create local awareness.
- Leverage e-commerce activity. Providing an excellent online store experience can mutually benefit your local business and e-commerce sales.