- By Colleen McNamara
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is––it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook
Manually managing data as it comes in is impossible for any business – let alone large brands, which is why investment in AI-powered marketing technology hit $19 billion in 2018. And though we’re seeing marketers embracing AI for its predictive abilities and precise ad targeting, brands are missing out on rich insights right in front of their eyes: their local data..
Local data reveals unique insights about consumer preferences and needs and how they differ from region to region. It’s no secret that the demographics in New York are different from those in LA. The question is — where do you start to get the granular insights that will drive change?
STEP 1. USING FEEDBACK TO MAKE YOUR BRAND STRONGER, IN EVERY CITY OR TOWN
Fact: 97% of consumers read reviews for local businesses.
Imagine, if you will, a large retail brand has 200 locations across the United States. They have invested in their local search marketing by ensuring accurate listings across the web. In fact, their listings are optimized and up-to-date: they keep content on all sources fresh consistently and they routinely update their business hours for special holidays. They’re doing it right? But what’s not working?
Within a Nationwide 4-star ranking, lies a community and its surroundings with 2-stars. A regional dive into their business reviews shows that a cluster of unsatisfied customers – which in turn gives the brand a chance to get ahead of this by diving into the feedback and identifying the core of the issue and getting ahead of it.
STEP 2. AMPLIFY YOUR BRAND MESSAGE BY IDENTIFYING WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS CARE ABOUT
Fact: Did you know that 51% of belief-driven buyers will be loyal to brands that are aligned with their views?
Your local brand story should be flexible, and responsive to your customers’ needs. Authenticity lies in remaining “yourself” while still connecting to your local customers with the storyline that resonates most to them.
Let’s look at this retailer again. They dug into their local data and found that their customers in San Francisco consistently commented on the quality and variety of the product in their stores. Over in Philadelphia, convenience and service are the name of the game: consumers wanted faster service, especially for returns, and wanted more attentive service from employees.
As a national brand, they may tout their pride in quality and cost-effectiveness––but to really win the San Fran market, they needed to sharpen the message further to align with the values their customers hold. More than that, in San Francisco, the branding opportunity lies in highlighting relationships with local designers and initiatives. And, while Philly requires some marketing efforts to reassure clients that customer service is at the heart of who they are, the bulk of the work lies in the service and store management teams.
STEP 3. PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS IN ALIGNMENT WITH LOCAL INSIGHTS
Fact: 70% of consumers said they are most likely to respond to ads if they are relevant to local proximity.
Making a positive change for your brand at the local level is one thing, but ensuring that returning customers see the change is critical. These customers will start by seeing your top-of-funnel branding reinforcing your local message. But what happens when they search for a location, or a product or service?
The retailer we’ve been following did more than simply build ads and social media content around their local message. They ensured that their bottom-of-funnel tactics were aligned as well. That meant updating their Store Locator, listing descriptions with a focus on their local design love, SEM ads highlighting local designers they’ve partnered with, and even retargeting ads for returning customers reinforcing their story further.
Communities are defined by the unique behaviors and needs of their local customers. So, understanding and targeting your local audiences on a granular level, is more effective than trying to speak to one broad target. Indeed, adopting the mindset of thinking globally and acting locally will drive the future of retail.
Brands are no longer the sole owners of their narrative – consumers influence and shape the stories of local and national businesses everywhere. Today’s marketers are challenged with being tuned-in to every channel their consumer interacts with, collecting and distilling mass amounts of data, and turning it into a unique, personalized message for individuals.
SweetIQ and USA TODAY NETWORK can help you connect your core brand message all the way through to your last touchpoints before conversion. Talk to an expert today.