How can businesses use location in their local search marketing to increase conversions and sales?
1. Personalize location search results by transport mode
If you're a marketer for a bricks and mortar store, you have to make sure your customers can reach you quickly and safely: In search results, there's no point suggesting a service station restaurant to someone without a car, or a grocery store that has no nearby parking if the searcher is coming by car.
Pre-filtering locations so that they're bike-friendly, public transport-friendly, or step-free acknowledges the fact that the closest location is not always the best one.
2. Use direct marketing with a twist
There was a time when printing someone's name on a leaflet looked damn good, and the literature was seen as a novel piece of advertising. Up the ante and deliver a marketing campaign that uses each individual's house address and explains the shortest route from their home to store. (Companies such as locr can make that happen.)
3. Geofence by time
Basic geofencing means businesses can set a perimeter around a location and send mobile alerts to customers when they cross into the delimited area. It's possible to draw the area manually or use a distance radius so that you can target specific customers using services from companies such as ThumbVista.
If you want to give the extra push, you can also geofence by time: You can target customers who are a five minutes' walk away or a 10 minutes' drive away. This approach works particularly well if the offer is for a limited time only (think how highway billboards might say, for example, "Your nearest McDonalds is only 5 minutes away." We at iGeolise offer the TravelTime platform, which can do this on mobile.
4. Personalize maps
More and more businesses are turning away from the standard Google map in favor of applying their own color schemes and emphasizing what matters to them. Using Mapbox's technology, you're able to design the map you want using whatever data, fonts, and colors you wish.
5. Be fluid when delivering search results
If you want to help customers convert, make sure that every search engine result option you deliver is relevant. There's no point suggesting at 9 AM that someone grab a coffee in a late night bar... because it probably isn't open yet. Set filters by opening and closing times to make sure searchers get what they need when they need it. Hours Of does this quite well. You may also want to consider peak times or congestion at rush hour, too, in your local search marketing strategy.
6. Use social media to monitor local patterns
Most platforms allow for some type of geo-tagging when posting. Analyzing the preferences, comments, and behaviors of customers based on their location means that you can sync your marketing strategies based on their locale preferences. If those in charge of social are aware of the geo-tag, they would also be able to recommend solutions to problems based on their local area.
7. If you deliver a sociable service, give a sociable search
Any activity that involves multiple people needs coordination. Supply central meeting points for groups of people coming from different directions. Find out where the best of both (or more) worlds is by delivering a Venn diagram-style search results. It can work on a small scale for friends finding a spot in the middle—and for large-scale analysis, including selecting a new store location, conference venue, or store. It also works if customers need to be equidistant from multiple points, such as for finding hotels that are close to both the airport and the beach.
8. Create localized content plans
This approach goes back to the classic mantra "Think global, act local." When mapping your content, think how important location is in context of each piece of content. Decide whether the piece needs to be significantly changed for each geography or whether it can just be tweaked.
9. Calculate journey time instantaneously
When faced with a list of locations, website visitors must choose which option suits them best. To do so, they often check the journey time from A to B using an app, a directions website, or a satellite navigation system.
If, however, every search result is already listed by minutes, they won't have to calculate time before selecting an option, and that means you'll no longer lose customers who wander off to another site.
Offering the minutes, mileage, and directions all in one means they will not spend time researching options, keeping them on the path of your website's user journey toward conversion.
10. Think about the bigger picture
When planning future location options, think about how the surrounding environment might change and how those changes would affect you. Upcoming developments for road networks, shopping districts, and residential areas will significantly alter the appeal of a location—good or bad.
Having the foresight to see how your customers will interact with your location in future years will ensure that you can plan ahead in your local search marketing strategy.
A supermarket, for example, may choose to advertise to a new residential area, or a new restaurant may find that customers can more easily travel from further away, once a new road lane is built.
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