Moving Towards Local Store Marketing And Advertising For National Companies

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Moving Towards Local Store Marketing And Advertising For National Companies

National companies have been struggling with a significant change to branding, marketing, and advertising over the past few years. Search engines, the mobile industry, and consumers are looking for businesses, products, and services in their area using local search. This puts the need for digital branding, marketing, and advertising to the store, office, franchise, or building level.

National companies are not particularly enthusiastic about pushing their branding, marketing, and advertising to the local level due to budgets and the level of work required to manage these activities at the local level. In some cases, their ad agencies are avoiding the topic, and in other cases the company’s staff is more focused on advertising and less involved with organic marketing.

The reality is Google displays the Google Carousel of local results very prominently at the top of the search results before advertisers. The map of local business listings with the corresponding locations appear along with the customer ratings and reviews with yellow stars that stand out to any local consumer. Google Carousel is making the local consumer decision-making process much easier.

Local Store Marketing Factors for Consideration

  • Map listings should be actively managed. Passively watching them does not result in visibility.
  • Securing map listings through PIN code verification will help avoid potential hijackings. Using a bulk upload into an account has proven to not have the same level of security.
  • Marketing materials can be managed on a per location basis.
  • Manage Customer Ratings and Reviews. Responding to all reviews and having a program to solicit new reviews is imperative to stay competitive.
  • Using local social media marketing will be more meaningful to local consumers.

Local Marketing Process vs. Data Feed Syndication Tasks

If you’re looking for methods to improve your local store placements in Google’s results, there are many factors that go into the marketing process. National companies have been focused on using data feeds through syndication services to push their local store information out to the Internet at large. While this is an admirable starting point, it is exactly that–a starting point.

Ask the following questions about your marketing process and you may find why the data feeds are not effective to get the local store to show-up in the local search results at Google.

  • Have you run a keyword + city ranking report for each location? Do these listings show up in the organic search results? This report alone will show how effective the data feeds really are for marketing.
  • Have you PIN code verified each individual location at the top 10 consumer used search engines and websites? Not only to avoid hijackings, but to have the ability to manage the marketing materials and information within the listings.
  • Are you actively managing the customer ratings and reviews or just passively waiting for a negative review to show up? Keep in mind, even if you are in an industry where you cannot solicit for ratings and reviews, that does not mean the local consumers aren’t posting their feedback.
  • Are you using local store landing pages on your corporate website? Do these landing pages use structured data classification?
  • Are you using social community business pages at Google+ and Facebook for each location?

Top Local Marketing Activities To Be Found Locally

Unlike advertising, marketing is a process that takes time to build and, in most cases, requires labor to follow through on the process. You find a starting point and continue to manage the activities based on results. You can then modify these activities as changes occur in the industry, competitors become more competitive, and/or your business changes.

Some of the activities you will start with include:

  • PIN code verify listing
  • Update the local store information
  • Verify the syntax of the address for consistent use
  • Confirm business description, categories, map markers, etc.
  • Confirm the citations and how they appear to the Internet industry
  • Manage Customer Ratings & Reviews, including responding to what has been posted
  • Check for duplicate listings
  • Check for stores that are closed
  • Use Google Local Map on your website
  • Use local social media marketing business pages
  • Engage in Google Adwords Express for hyper local advertising
  • …and, yes, we do need to make sure the data feed syndication is part of this process

The Overall Status of Local Store Marketing

With the Internet industry, the mobile industry, and local consumers using the results in desktop and mobile searches, insuring local store information is accurate is only the beginning. Getting these stores to show up in the search results requires a strategic marketing program for each location. Once the store shows up in the search results there are three additional elements of importance:

  1. Each store has current marketing materials in their listings (not only in the corporate website’s landing page).
  2. Insure your customer ratings and reviews are compelling for a local consumer to want to shop at your store.
  3. Each store’s social media marketing should support local consumer awareness and engagement.

While the traditional yellow pages may no longer be effective, the budget that was once allocated towards these books is now having to be reconsidered (even if partially) for local store marketing and advertising.

Sources: infographic provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing

Melih Oztalay
I have over 20 years of experience in developing successful, efficient and strategic web marketing and advertising solutions for businesses. In addition to being the... Read Full Bio
Melih Oztalay
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  • Belle

    I have to say, your second paragraph about National companies surprises me. With social media all around, it’s not surprising that the advertising and marketing would move to a new platform. I don’t even understand their reluctance. Is it because of the newness? It is relatively new, but most people are already adept about it. Any ideas why?

    • Melih Oztalay

      Hi Belle,

      I think the reluctance has many levels which include cost to market at the local level by individual store, human resources to manage this type of program, and yes, there is certainly the element that local store marketing (not advertising) is new and they cannot figure out where to place this type of organic marketing effort.

      The reality is the Internet industry, the mobile industry and the consumers are pushing national brands to take closer notice on organic marketing efforts at the store level. Not to mention managing customer ratings and reviews at the store level and publicly respond to these postings.

      They will come around on this, just a matter of time.

      • Carl Kalitta

        I would also add that national companies were used to the printed Yellow Pages. When that expenditure went away, they breathed a sigh of relief and figured that since they had a website, they were all set.
        The local business listings, although they’ve been around for years are something that falls in between the cracks of Marketing and their web development/digital marketing/IT groups.
        When confronted with the existence of the local business listings, they are often shocked, surprised and somewhat embarrassed that they are not aware of the situation.
        The result is that they shelve the decision to act, hoping for the quick, cheap fix. The idea of using the local listings as part of their marketing campaign in anathema to them – it’s much easier to manage Facebook!

  • jtonti2013

    Indeed this is big concern for national brands with local outlets. The research/discovery online, buy offline phenomenon is a big deal and a lot brands are not great at addressing it. At Sproutloud where I work we find that brands not only want local search optimization services integrated with other local marketing (i.e. local PPC, direct mail, social media mgmt., mobile websites, etc.) they want our tool to manage all their promotional allowances as well. Brands are really looking for a one-stop-shop these days.

    • Melih Oztalay

      Yes, you bring up an excellent point. National brands seem disorganized about their local marketing strategy utilizing multiple companies for services, YP type ad agencies, etc.

      They are certainly looking for easy solutions like data feed syndicators, unfortunately that is only the beginning, not the end of their local store marketing. Someone still has to audit the results, figure out what is working, which changes from one market to another.

      I think this more about finding a local marketing process vs. focusing on individual technology tasks.

  • Jared

    This article is right on the money. My company (SyCara Local) spent the better part of 2013 reaching out to several national brands, asking what they would like to see in a Local SEO tool. The biggest issue they have is “where do I start.” When you consider a brand like Lowe’s Home Improvement, with 1,500+ stores nationwide – the task of managing each of those locations across 10-15 directories is daunting. Just as an exercise, I picked a local pizza restaurant and performed a “Listing Accuracy” analysis across 12 big directories. It took me 20 minutes for that one location. I really hate comment spam, but this is too good of a fit NOT to mention that SyCara Local helps what we call “National Local” brands cope this this monumental task. Look us up if you’re interested.

    • Melih Oztalay

      Hi Jared,

      I agree with you that the volume is daunting to the marketing staff at a national multi-location company. This is also a marketing process, which tends to be labor intensive. This staff generally is used to advertising tasks that they can hand off to a media buying company and not have to think twice about it again.

      With marketing processes you do have to measure the results and make changes for improvements. Thus the volume of work you are talking about overwhelms them and they are not sure where to start or how to organize this effort.

      Theoretically this is where they need to outsource the work to a company that has an internal process with staff to manage the work, the communications with the individual store managers, and a method to measure the results.

      We’ve developed a dashboard system to show where in the pin-code verification process each store is at, the syndication process and the audit of the ongoing marketing effort results by store.

      This type of dashboard system is certainly helpful, however, continues to only be a tool to aid the volume of work.

      The reality is the Internet industry, the mobile industry and the consumers are pushing these companies to drill down to the store level. They will have to get on board sooner or later! 😉

  • Melih Oztalay

    Hi Carl,

    You are on point when it comes to the traditional yellow pages. If you consider the national companies used to spend $$$$$$ on putting their stores into these books nationwide, they were of course relieved when the expenses on this advertising form when down to $$.

    Certainly they have gotten used to their budgets being re-allocated or reduced. Now the Internet industry, the mobile industry and the consumers are pushing them to spend budgets at the store level again and they are resisting adding the budget back to this level…and for the labor intensive marketing process at that vs. advertising tasks.

    What they may not be clear about is that the increase is maybe $$$ – $$$$ range vs. what they used to spend at $$$$$$.