"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Darren Goldie, CEO/Founder, Locationify.
Prior to the digital revolution, location data was explicit – it referred to fixed physical stores.
Today, location data matters because people check their phones before they walk into a store, as evidenced by 200% annual growth in "where to buy" and "near me" mobile queries since 2017 (Think with Google, 2019). Since the pandemic, growth in these location-focused queries spiked to 700%. This spike is on the back of surging “local” demand for local transport, local car valeting and an array of home services. On Amazon, 58% of total sales were by small and medium-sized businesses across the 1.9 million US businesses using Amazon as a marketplace (oom.com, 2021).
Here are some tips to help you transform to both customer-centric business and location-focused business.
- Research customer intent by location. Location data is transforming how businesses understand “local intent” data across hundreds of consumer touch points. Whether you are B2B, B2C or increasingly a B2B2C company, your business is generally successful because it serves or creates a demand. However, a quick look behind the scenes will often reveal a treasure trove of varying, local customer demand patterns that can significantly enhance marketing effectiveness. Adjusting your marketing by location in response to this shifting demand will give you a differentiator when driving overall sales. Since 2019, we have known that 46% of shoppers surveyed confirm inventory online before going to a store (HubSpot Marketing statistics, 2021), but how many marketers can claim they use this intelligence at the product level to vary their location marketing efforts?
- Customize the content journey by location. Whether an audience lives in a fast-growing city, an established town, near a shopping mall or somewhere in the countryside, they value local information or recommendations when making local purchase decisions. Even if the product is bought online, local product visibility, local customer service and local reviews can be a driving force behind online purchases compared to data that doesn’t take location into account.
- Plan privacy compliance by location. Location data grapples with two fundamental challenges: privacy and proving the value of data collection to consumers. Although obviously linked, privacy primarily concerns how location data is used, which is increasingly based around consent. Value concerns how consumers proactively share location data with third parties to improve their lives, from hailing a cab to accessing local product offers. By thinking in a location-first manner, businesses can adjust their privacy management at the state level. This means they can take advantage of the different legislation adoption rates across the country to deal with the continual flow of non-fixed, continuous mobile data.
- Vary “near me” shopping and “service center” visibility by location. The biggest platforms – Google, Facebook and Amazon – are investing in building out their location-based ad services, so savvy marketers should, too. By connecting Google My Business with local inventory ads, for example, businesses can quickly establish a location-first strategy and evaluate the opportunities for varying their marketing by location.
- Vary SEO tactics by location. In addition to optimizing your presence on directories, companies should rethink location-first prioritization within their SEO strategies. Local SEO has been popular for some time, but using the insights generated from local SEO, then connecting those insights with cross-channel paid strategies, is only now starting to emerge.
Previously, companies would focus on optimizing their first-level domain within Google organic search. As competition increases, audience conversion rates at different locations for different products and services are higher, causing brands to rethink their local strategy. By connecting local inventory, consumer demand insights and localizing offers, companies can generate immediate incremental revenue from sub-domains or pages by location.
Marketing customization based on location data challenges the one-size-fits-all marketing approach widely used across the industry. From local stock availability to locally focused offers and promotion, thinking “location-first” increases relevancy and improves the customer experience.
Of course, audience targeting will continue to remain the priority for many marketers, but location data is quickly becoming the most important driver after product and price for advertisers. As programmatic and content marketing continue to rise in popularity and new channels such as CTV, internet of things and audio devices become addressable, marketers will be overwhelmed with options for reaching audiences.
Local-first thinking will help simplify this challenge, unlock more consumer revenue and increase brand visibility across the different locations that matter most for driving business growth.
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