Google has always had the ability to define or redefine your business and how you engage with consumers. Hyperlocal is just the next iteration of that challenge to businesses.
It’s been some time coming, but today the need for businesses of all sizes, particularly multi-location businesses and franchises, to be hitting local conversations and audiences, has never been greater. Consumers want accurate, relevant personalisation, and as they become increasingly mobile, they are demanding that national brands, as well as local restaurants and shops, think digitally and spend locally, targeting them at a granular, hyperlocal level.
So how do we know that the market is finally ready for hyperlocal?
Audiences are getting more mobile
We look at our smartphones around 220 times a day and pick up our devices a massive 1,500 times a week.
Mobile plays naturally well to the hyperlocal crowd. In his article Think with Google, Matt Lawson, the company’s director of search ads marketing, says: “We want things right, and we want things right away. As a result, the consumer journey looks markedly different than it did just five years ago. Instead of a few moments of truth, it’s a series of ‘micro-moments’ when we turn to mobile to act on a need.”
Turning to our smartphone for hyperlocal information has become second nature. Words and phrases like ‘near me’, ‘closest’, and ‘nearby’ are increasingly common across the billions of queries on Google every month. Google searches involving ‘near me’ have nearly doubled since last year as people make purchase decisions on the move.
Customers are expecting more personalisation
Customers increasingly want personalised and localised experiences. To deliver this, companies need to be able to recognise individuals and identities across all channels, both online and in the real world, down to their specific location. This includes stitching together cookies, email addresses, mobile IDs, location data and other identifiers, to create a single cross-channel history.
Often, marketing budgets are focused at a brand level, but are disconnected with how consumers are engaging at a hyperlocal level; think Facebook versus Facebook Local or Twitter versus Yelp. Local properties are the ‘last yard’ of the consumer journey, and in order to fully optimise the investment made in earlier in the purchase funnel, it’s essential that brands join in local conversations, and ensure their marketing content is tuned into the language, characteristics and desires of the local audience.
Google is thinking more hyperlocal
In response to these forces, Google now lists local search results above organic results. That is an enormous transformation for businesses. Google was also recently seen testing a new hyperlocal ad unit featuring pre-qualified listings for tradesmen. These units are part of a new beta programme called ‘home service ads’, and from what’s been observed in testing, the ads appear to be replacing organic local search engine results pages, which is further indication that the local pack is rising in importance for Google.
Additionally, Google is currently rolling out a new feature for mobile browsers, which provides details on when a given business is most busy. The information is based on anonymous and aggregated visits to places from Google users who have opted-in to storing location data, or used the Google Maps application.
Now that this data has surfaced, there is the potential it will be fed into local search rankings. What’s worrying is that Google gets some element of this data wrong around 40 per cent of the time. So now is the time for businesses to be cleaning up the accuracy of their local listings, and extending this to their local landing page experience.
Can we deliver against these demands, from consumers and Google?
Consumers are getting increasingly comfortable with handing over their location data to businesses. Almost 50 per cent say they are willing to divulge such information in exchange for joining a loyalty programme.
Increasingly brands are tweaking their national marketing campaigns on a store-by-store basis, and localising their content and advertising. According to the Local Search Association, geo-targeting doubles the performance of email campaigns and paid search.
We’ve heard the term ‘big data’ being bandied about for several years, but that may not even begin to describe the sorts of hyperlocal customer data that marketers could be collecting directly from source via wearable technology and connected devices in the future. With Google Now linking to Google MyBusiness, smart fridges and wearable technology such as Apple’s Watch, the possibilities for automated, hyperlocal search and targeting, matched to user intent, are endless.
If the end data isn’t well managed and optimised, however, no matter how clever the technology and devices, brands could significantly miss out.
Luke Regan, Vice President, Managing Partner, Make It Rain
Tel: 0207 618 3800