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A Practical Approach to Artificial Intelligence for Local Marketing

Are there two letters more buzzworthy than “AI” in the tech space right now? Probably not. Machine learning, deep learning and anything within the artificial intelligence space is inspiring heated debates. As the fear of  “ruled by robots” dissipates, the practical uses of artificial intelligence in everyday life are becoming clearer. Major investments are pouring into tech hubs (and even our home turf in Montreal), and we predict that businesses that implement AI into their strategy will win big.

Leverage AI technologies within your local strategy sooner rather than later to give your business an added edge. It’s time to start envisioning novel experiences for your consumers, and optimizing for new search behaviors.

The Case of  Digital Assistants and Voice Search

There was a moment  where some argued voice search for local marketing was just a fad — but that was before Google generatied a cool 1.5 billion on its Maps app by integrating new features such as voice search ads.

In a feature by Search Engine Land, columnist Brian Smith explores this idea at length, listing 10 things businesses can do to optimize for inquires made via on voice search. Most interestingly, he writes, “Digital assistants will not erode the profitability of local search like it will with general search. If anything, digital assistants are far more likely to drive local sales, especially considering how effective chatbots have been at doing the same thing.”

Practical ways you can prime yourself with voice search connectivities:

  • Use structured data markup on your local landing pages to make it easier for assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to pick up your data.
  • Target long-tail keywords that reflect natural local search queries; think of how someone might ask you where to find the best coffee shop in town. Go beyond “coffee shop” bids!
  • Adapt your website copy to reflect conversational language! Say goodbye to jargon, and hello to telling it how it really is. Added bonus? If you’re not already using a conversational and direct tone about your products or your services, there’s a chance humans don’t understand what you’re saying, either.

A Personalized Approach, Online and Offline

Generating a lot of data isn’t the hard part. Understanding how to segment this data to your benefit where things get tricky (and, um, expensive!); AI technologies are being developed that allow your business to sort huge amounts of consumer data automatically. This data can then be leveraged into true omnichannel experiences. You can gain a deeper understanding of consumer likes, dislikes, and shopping behaviours outside of the context of your own business. From there, you can curate your marketing messages in a much more targeted, personalized way.

Create in-store experiences for your customers to remember. Retail stores such as Nike’s SoHo flagship are using virtual reality to create real-life scenarios for their shoppers. No matter what type of service your store offers, you can take advantage of image recognition technology, which scans facial features to generate a more advanced customer database.  Imagine walking into your favorite store and hearing, “Hi Sarah! How are you? Planning a vacation? We have swimsuits that are 50% off — check out the section right beside the changing rooms!” Startling? Perhaps. But will we soon expect it as part of an in-store experience? Definitely.

 

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