- By Mohannad B.
2016 was good to us. Local marketing efforts had opportunities to improve across the board, thanks to a revitalized focus on online reviews, and further understanding that online-to-offline consumer experiences should be seamless. We also saw more changes to traditional local search models, and yet another significance increase on consumer’s reliance on mobile.
1. Social media platforms to provide opportunities for localized, user-generated advertising
The rise of Snapchat Geofilters for brands points to further integration of social media and local marketing. With Snapchat, brands are developing creative advertising through user generated content, and we expect to see more opportunities for consumer-focused, personalized marketing via highly localized content on other social media platforms. Snapchat and its Geofilters will influence Facebook, Instagram, and perhaps even Twitter to catch up to its innovative opportunities for local marketers.
2. Brands won’t need to be listed everywhere.
The practice of getting listed on hundreds of directories will become obsolete. Businesses should track and analyze where they are getting traffic from, and where reputation management — responding to and soliciting reviews — should play a stronger role. Businesses should build a strategy for their identity in the directories that actually matter for their industry, then focus on optimization, the customization of listings per season, reviews, and highly targeted local campaigns.
Shotgunning listings à l’ancienne presents challenges for optimization as smaller directories go through many updates, potentially causing inaccuracies that could be picked up by larger players like Google, Bing, Foursquare, Facebook, Yelp or Apple Maps. Local Marketing providers will have to shift their mindset from universalization to curation; a one-solution-fits-all approach will no longer be effectively. Let’s be honest: a burger joint doesn’t need to be listed on Angie’s List.
3. The Online-to-Offline attribution gap will near closing, thanks to big data
Through sophisticated technology and analytics, businesses are inching closer to linking a local search to a single purchase. We expect that 2017 will bring more intelligent O2O funnels, supported by consumer insights across key directories and sites, thanks to the evolution of Big Data. Insights got the ball rolling by telling us where consumers are searching, when they’re searching and now, knowing how they’re converting will allow brands to determine the connection between the searchers and the shoppers. But Big Data contributes to the puzzle in a big way: brands will have more access to information on searcher’s online behaviors, by discovering new patterns and using tighter tracking methods to discern a single user’s web clicks, geo-locations, and social media activity, just to name a few. Local marketers can use this information to create highly targeted, trackable online-to-offline campaigns and solve the attribution equation.
4. Voice search campaigns will be on the rise
As consumers begin to become more comfortable with mobile voice search, marketers can’t ignore the data which will connect their brands to the customers looking for it. In 2015 alone, search on virtual assistants such as Siri and Cortana grew to account for 10% of all search into volume globally, according to Mindmeld. We saw the industry really begin to improve its understanding of how people conduct typed searches versus voice searches. In May, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller alluded that Google is going to start producing reports on voice search in Google’s Search Console Analytics report. Once this information is made available in 2017, local marketers can produce more highly targeted adwords campaigns.
5. Integrative technology will enable brands to embrace advanced local campaigns
The last year and a half saw a number of innovative API releases, such as Uber’s API allowing apps to add a “request a ride” button. 2016 saw the proliferation of startups like Button, which allow seamless integration of your favorite apps like Foursquare and Opentable. In 2017 we will see local brands and apps continue to build on this momentum and enhance their local offering in new ways, such as featuring Uber buttons on listings offering their customers a direct way to get to their locations.
6. Consumer reliance on mobile will spearhead all omnichannel marketing efforts.
Last year saw mobile searches surpass desktop, representing about 58% of queries, according to Hitwise. We expect this figure to evolve significantly in the next year. The result will be further reliance on mobile devices for consumer tasks such as payments and receipts, with features such as Apple Pay and digital receipts. This will allow marketers to dig deeper into conversion data and get link a single purchase to an online searcher. We predict transactions will become a key passage for brands to connect with in-store consumers, ultimately enhancing their omnichannel local marketing strategy.