How the rise of local search is helping businesses break down silos

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During the last two years, we’ve witnessed a significant change in businesses with both ecommerce functionality and a high-street footprint.

Two years ago, the split between ecommerce and retail teams was obvious in the brands we met. The lines were clear demarcated - anything website based was considered ecommerce, while store performance was considered the responsibility of the retail teams - (while there are many different naming conventions for teams and business units, for the purpose of consistency, this post will stick with ecommerce vs. retail.)

When meeting these brands, the first thing to work to establish is who or which team is responsible for specific channels. Usually local search/local SEO/maps listings (however you choose to name the channel), is treated as an afterthought and managed by the ecommerce team.

Generally, most local listings point to the brand’s homepage: when you question why, the answer usually given is that managed by the ecommerce team, and they want users to be exposed to the latest communications/promotions to generate ecommerce revenue.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t answer the user’s query; if the user is searching for a location, you need to serve the store page. Generally, ecommerce teams are not aware that they are servicing stores with their activity because they are singularly focused on meeting their targets.

This blind spot begs the question:

“But how do you manage location based keywords and searches via PPC?”

The usual answer:

“We don’t target these keywords.”

In most cases, you are then able to demonstrate to the brand how they are, in fact, picking up these searches via phrase match.

In most cases, ecommerce teams are working with their retail team without even knowing it. Seeing as they are spending PPC budget on these terms, why not serve a more relevant ad or local listing landing page to the user?

When it comes to local, how the business submits changes to Google, Bing, Apple, Facebook etc. is crucial. This process is especially important during seasonal periods, when opening hours are changed. In most cases, opening hours are changed on the website by the retail team, but this often fails to reflect on search engines and directories. The retail team doesn’t even consider the various digital tools available to them to help footfall; they are unaware that these listings often point to the homepage and not the store page.

This is a massive oversight; incorrect opening hours result in negative reviews. Many brands we’ve met over the past two years have had no visibility of these reviews, let alone responded to them.

However, all of this confusion and oversight between teams has been brought to light by the development of smartphones and the rise in localised search this has prompted. This has forced internal teams to work together and break down silos.

Today, agency conversations with brands are much more open and efficient. Both teams are included to ensure the business:

  • Answers the search/query
  • Serves a relevant ad/listing with a localised landing page
  • Understands the impact each team has on the other
  • Understands digital channels are driving footfall
  • Realises retail teams need to communicate with the ecommerce teams to ensure accurate data is displayed online

The rise in local and the gaps in tracking online to offline means teams are having to work together to execute best practices, achieve a common goal and drive revenue. It isn’t the job of internal teams to push a user down a specific path, ecommerce vs. high street; brands must answer queries and give the user options and solutions. Whether it is ecommerce, click and collect or store details, the goal is still to drive revenue for the business.

While it’s great that silos are being broken down, this will be the next leap for businesses with both ecommerce and retail. Brands must ask themselves: “How can we get a better grasp of store footfall and revenue that has been influenced by digital channels?”

The truth is, brands that are agile and able to push the relevant changes on their website and store pages will push ahead of the curve.

Mike Fantis is managing partner at DAC Group.

MF

Mike Fantis

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