Local is having a moment, and the numbers back that up: 46 percent of all searches on Google are for local information. This represents an incredible opportunity for brands and marketers to focus on local experiences and develop tactics that will position them to win. The critical elements that make up an integrated local experience include local listings, store pages, reviews, local social media, content and paid media. Brands that only focus on one area of the local experience could be missing the big picture and fail to deliver on customer expectations.
This explosion of interest in local is driving innovation in the ad tech space. However, this innovation is resulting in fragmentation as providers and platforms focus on particular niches. In turn, this fragmentation makes it difficult for brands to deliver unified brand experiences. Self-serve platforms typically address pieces of local search in isolation, but there is a huge benefit in stitching together a fully encompassing local program and connecting those local experiences back up to the enterprise brand. While it is true that technology can help with a lot of these pieces, there is still a need for a partner that has both the technological capabilities and human capital to provide the strategic "glue" of a successful local campaign.
Technology needs people to activate it. For example, numerous platforms allow marketers to post to Facebook or Google, but the service side of deciding what to post cannot be automated. Investments in technology without the expertise to refine, customize and convey a story are likely to lead to frustration. Content and experiences that deliver performance usually don't result from the technology it was built on but from the thought and understanding of the market.
A good example of this is brand reputation management. Any business can respond to its own reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp, and technology can help streamline this all into one central dashboard. The important action here, though, is in how you respond to reviews. The difference between a great business and a good business will be how you decide to respond to customers. If a customer had a negative experience, are you offering to fix it? Are you following up personally to attempt to rectify the situation? Or if the review was positive, are you thanking the person and continuing the relationship? Technology's place in the marketing stack is to give time back to marketers so they can spend it providing exceptional customer experiences, creating new products or improving their businesses. Utilizing a well-considered strategy that reflects the brand principles online in every interaction will not only help address service issues, it will provide a platform that will build brand loyalty and advocacy.
There is incredible value in taking a holistic approach to local experiences as opposed to piecing it together bit by bit and relying on ad tech and tools exclusively. The insights from reviews should power content for your store pages. Organic coverage should influence paid search coverage. All the different tactics in local should work together in perfect harmony with insights learned in one channel applied to others.
Leveraging tech and platforms in an integrated way to tell the brand's local story, coupled with a strategic human element, will deliver the results necessary to thrive in today's marketing landscape. In a fragmented landscape, it is more important than ever to look holistically at marketing. If your microwave can talk to your refrigerator, the least brands can do is to talk to one another.