The future of retail marketing? It’s local and personal

Technological advances and our hyper-connected lifestyles have led consumers to expect instant gratification and personalisation at every turn. As a result, retailers face a daunting ultimatum: change, or become obsolete. Here we identify five trends not to be ignored.

1. Consumers expect and demand hyperlocal experiences

We’ve grown to expect our smartphones to serve relevant, local results. “Near me,” “closest,” and “nearby.” All phrases that would have meant little just a decade ago are beginning to dominate the billions of queries every month. In fact, “near me” searches have nearly doubled in the last year.

According to recent research by Ipsos Mori, 52 per cent of customers look specifically for local business hours on search engines. Consider that against data from the InfoGroup, where 44 per cent of people report having an outing ruined by incorrect information relating to trading hours. This is not trivial stuff, and just one example of the incomplete hyperlocal experience many businesses are delivering.

2. The technology giants are delivering against this expectation, ahead of everyone else

Over the past few months we’ve seen Google, Facebook, Apple, Pinterest and Amazon make local a major focus. Facebook’s goal, it says, is to make Messenger the first stop for mobile discovery, for anyone looking to do or buy anything. It’s something local businesses can’t ignore.

Meanwhile, Pinterest recently announced that users will be able to make phone calls and get directions to bricks-and-mortar locations from within their iOS app (with web and Android coming soon). They will also be able to see store opening hours and read tips and reviews left by customers.

And don’t forget Amazon, which has just partnered with Yelp to give Alexa, its voice assistant, some street smarts. Alexa, who lives inside Amazon’s Echo Bluetooth speaker, now plugs into Yelp to pull out local search results.

These developments show how keen the big tech companies are to deliver an amazing local experience for their users.

3. Reputation management is going local

There is much research to show that the number of consumers reading online reviews to determine the quality of a local business is higher than ever. The volume of reviews customers are reading is also on the increase, with many reviewing a minimum of five before they put their trust in a local business.

In coming months, we are likely to see local businesses doing more to encourage customers to write and publish reviews, and particularly when they’ve received a positive experience. Without reviews, you are at risk of having no reputation signals, or worse, that you have one single, scathing review, visible in your local search listing.

4. The local search ecosystem Is gaining In prominence

Google now lists local search results above organic results, which is an enormous transformation for businesses. It’s a game changer, particularly for the mobile consumer who rarely scrolls below the fold.

Consequently, it is more important than ever for businesses to optimise their local landing pages with information that is relevant to the location, so that they can be found on their own as well as through the main brand site.

5. Media spend is increasingly local

Business marketers are increasingly realising that their local stores or dealerships now own the brand relationship with the customer, and this is what needs to be nurtured within their media spend.

Additionally, social media platforms are offering an increasing array of location-specific marketing opportunities for businesses. This is indication that they too believe hyperlocal is an area ripe for monetisation.

Consumers are naturally more open to dealing with organisations that present them with information in a way that works for them personally, and particularly at a local level. Surely there has never been a stronger case for businesses to truly consider their hyperlocal strategy, and keep abreast of this rapidly developing market.

For more information contact David Jowett.

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