Use these three tips to take advantage of the rise in location-based searches, which will drive more customers to their local stores in your franchise.
The holiday season is upon us, which can either excite or frighten retailers and franchisees. With an increased number of ad dollars committed to hyperlocalized campaigns both online and offline, this critical selling period can make or break a brand's revenue for the entire year.
Knowing this, it's time to consider what franchise brands can do to drive more consumers to the store this holiday season. The best way? A hyperlocal paid search strategy. Let's take a look at a few tips below to get your strategy up and running.
1. Figure out your hyperlocal targeting strategy.
The conversation around local search and ROI is not a new one; marketers have discussed strategies and the importance of targeting customers by location for the past decade. However, in recent years, there has been a steady increase in hyperlocal search, mainly due to mobile devices. About three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) own a smartphone. "Near me" search queries have increased, and AI-powered personal assistants are also on the rise.
Google reports that nearly one-third of mobile searches are location-based queries. This uptick in location-based searches by consumers indicates an increased level of purchase intent based on physical location. It also provides an opportunity for brands to capture incremental store visits, as these types of searches are often more focused on product than brand, making it easier to identify intent and act accordingly.
Eighty-two percent of customers research online before visiting a store or making a purchase, whether online or in-store. If you fail to incorporate hyperlocal trends and tactics in your current strategy, you might notice a considerable drop in both online and in-person traffic. Consumers are savvier than ever, so it's important to connect with them using search early on in the research process. You can do this by qualifying them with the right keywords and ad copy, and then moving them through a quality experience on your website or other digital channels, to increase the likelihood of a store visit.
Remember, a poor online and social presence can badly harm your franchise's visibility, thus hindering ROI, business growth and lead generation. But if you can master these tactics, it can help your brand stay competitive and increase success.
2. Consider the new and improved customer journey.
Think about your current and prospective customer base. What are they searching for when considering your brand? What steps do they take before making a purchase? The customer journey is no longer a linear path with planned touch points before purchase. Instead, consumers are now experiencing a series of high-intent touch points that include a variety of devices (mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.). To connect directly with customers during these critical points, it's important to accurately understand and interpret a customer's intent and timeline at each step. Each customer engages and reacts differently.
During the initial stages, shoppers are often unsure of what they are searching for, so they use brand-agnostic keywords and phrases or search for stores in walking distance of their current location. Capitalizing on these moments will increase revenue and draw in new customers.
You must also consider customers' needs and intent, which means shifting your strategy to adopt a mobile-first mindset. Is your website mobile-friendly? Does it prominently feature call-to-action buttons? Are there local maps and directions to each of your locations? The more effort you put into understanding your mobile user, the easier it will be to draw local traffic.
3. Make sure customers can find you online.
Focus on points of interest: Your website and social pages should be filled with localized content of interest to consumers in your area. If you own a fitness brand and one is located in Chicago, ensure your location landing page is focused on health and fitness issues or local fitness challenges. This will target the key audience in your area and help draw foot traffic.
General information on your site and local pages is not nearly as beneficial to those who are searching "near me" as location-specific content that is relevant to the user and guides them toward a conversion. So consider localizing your ad copy and including key info such as holiday promotion site links or store hours. This can help to ensure you appear in these critical searches. Connecting your business locations with these local-specific user queries can boost your click rates significantly, particularly with paid ads.
Next, create a landing page for each and every location. To maximize your appearance in search results, create a local landing (optimized for both desktop and mobile) and social page (Facebook, Google My Business, etc.) for every location. It might seem like a lot, but this helps you develop and optimize personalized content for an area or specific radius. It also makes it easier to create incentives based on ongoing events in the neighborhood or timing of holidays.
Additionally, optimize content for location-specific keywords, including the name of your city (if it's on the smaller side) or your zip code (for large urban areas). Conduct research to uncover which keywords are most associated with your business or industry. Tying your local pages to these keywords with useful, user-friendly content can draw in more foot traffic and create a conversation around your brand.
Outside of the holiday season, a few hyperlocal paid search tactics can be incredibly beneficial to your brand and bottom line. With the increased competitiveness of online and offline retail, hyperlocal paid search is a must during these critical months.