When we discuss local SEO, most conversations revolve around online marketing strategies and recommendations – fix title tags, include keywords, claim g+ locations, citations, link signals, and reviews. This obviously makes sense since these are the ranking factors that drive local SEO visibility. However, in most cases we fail to incorporate the offline marketing component to the overall strategy.
82 percent of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit (comscore/TMP), which means we also need to incorporate the offline visit as part of our integrated marketing strategy.
Reviews are ranked as one of the top five most important ranking factors for local SEO coupled with the fact that 88 percent of users are influenced by a customer review when making a buying decision. However, reviews are also one of the toughest to acquire according to BrightLocal with only 12 percent users recommending a local business on G+ and 8 percent on an online directory. So it’s definitely a tough nut to crack and that’s where the offline piece kicks in.
Integrated Marketing Local Review Examples
In this post I’m going to use FedEx as example of how one can integrate cross-functional marketing initiatives. I recently visited FedEx in Mountain View, California. At the end of my visit I was handed a customer feedback flyer with a QR code:
Scanning the QR code will take you to their internal feedback system where you rate your experience. At the end of the review you’ll receive 10-25 percent off your next order. This was awesome except for one little detail – nobody gets to see the review!
Adding a link to Google+ Local page or a QR code to other local review sites (Yelp, Yahoo, YP) would help catapult the reviews and content that each business center would generate. It’s important to incorporate this strategy promptly and swiftly since reviews solicited at the time of service can see completion rates of 80-90 percent, according to Ted Paff, CEO of CustomerLobby.
It’s also worth noting that Google+ only shows the reviews and stars that are generated on G+ business pages. The reviews on other local sites do not count towards the stars and number of reviews.
As of the moment, you can’t write a G+ review on a business page using your mobile device but this is bound to change soon. So if you are including a link to your G+ local business page, make sure have the QR code pointing to other review sites (Yelp, Yahoo, etc).
You could use this opportunity to drive social signals – G+ authority, Tweets, and likes. Again, using the FedEx customer feedback initiative as an example. After filling out the feedback form, the customer might have wanted to tweet the fact that apart from the great service they got an additional 15 percent off.
Lastly, businesses need to make it extremely easy for their customer to review them! Here are a couple of tips to help make it easier for customer to review your business:
1. Link directly to your business review page. Whether you link from your website or you add a link on your offline marketing material (QR code), I’d recommend linking to write a review page – https://www.yelp.com/writeareview/biz/P1XZeSdImfB6Pqqt4JHhcQ vs. the main business page – http://www.yelp.com/biz/los-compadres-taco-truck-san-francisco-2
2. Include easy instructions – this is something you could include at the back of your comment card or in store marketing material.Screenshot taken 02/04/2014 of Yelp.com
3. Customers directed towards a positive review have a higher probability of leaving a positive review.
Customize receipts – Be creative. Your transaction receipts can be customized to drive review. Adding a link or a QR code to every receipt can help drive the number of reviews.
Overall, there’s huge opportunity in working towards boosting your local presence by integrating your online efforts with offline initiatives. This is something that can be scaled across multiple verticals – restaurants, local services, or home services. With tax season around the corner I’d love to see tax service companies like H&R Block and Liberty use this opportunity to drive reviews and visibility specially for clients that they’ve helped get a refund!
Disclosure: I do not have any relationship with the websites linked to from this post.