This is the first article in a four-part sponsored content series from Advice Local.
Sixteen hours. That’s how much time Laura Correa spends managing the website, social media pages, and search engine optimization strategies at her Maryland-based spa, Green Revolution Skin Studio, each month. The time she spends generating web content and keeping her business information updated across hundreds of digital channels is time she could be spending interacting directly with clients. Correa’s not alone. As the number of digital marketing channels available to small and mid-size businesses grows, the demands being placed on entrepreneurs are only getting heavier.
Local presence management isn’t just something small business owners have to worry about. Multi-location retailers with hundreds, if not thousands, of locations are struggling with the same challenges as they work to improve their local search rankings and cultivate a brand presence across social media, blogs, and other online channels. If just one piece of a brand’s local presence is not being managed well, then in-store traffic can dip. That’s why consistent monitoring of online data across websites, mobile applications, and forums is necessary for businesses long after they’ve initially taken control of their digital presence.
These challenges facing businesses and brands are the exact reason Advice Local created their local presence management solution. It’s also the reason they reached out to Street Fight to sponsor this important content series.
More than half (56%) of mobile searches using keywords such as “hours,” “where to buy,” and “near me” result in an in-store visit, according to this survey, demonstrating the importance of publishing business data that’s not only accurate, but also easily discoverable online. Meanwhile, 85% of consumers using mobile devices to search for businesses follow up with a phone call, which means businesses that don’t have accurate phone numbers posted alongside their directory listings are missing out on direct sales.
Local presence management involves managing a business’ physical presence across multiple channels of digital media, while keeping citations clean and consistent throughout the web. It encompasses a wide range of channels such as directory listings, data aggregators, and map listings. The term itself is often used to describe the merging of local and digital presence to improve local search rankings, with the ultimate goal of sending consumers into real world business locations.
The simple fact is whether a business is monitoring it or not, there is data about their business online. Below is an excerpt of a Baseline Report generated through Advice Local’s technology. Digital marketing agencies and local businesses would leverage a report like this to get an overview of what data is currently online about a specific business.
With so many channels of interactive media in the marketplace, businesses and brands of all sizes are struggling to keep up. Areas that marketers and agencies should pay particular attention to include:
- Directory listings: The number of directory websites for businesses to be listed on has grown in recent years, from just a few dozen to 100+. Businesses should continue to monitor the information published by these directories for NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency, even once an initial listing has been posted, as 73% of consumers say they lose trust in a business when local listing information is incorrect.
- Data aggregators: Data aggregators, such as Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual, distribute business data to multiple local search directories. Utilizing a data aggregator can help a business gain more local search authority.
- Map listings: What happens after a consumer discovers a business via social media or an online directory? In most cases, consumers search for business locations using online maps, like Google Maps. Unfortunately, online maps are not updated frequently, and outdated information (like cross streets or nearby landmarks that no longer exist) can spell trouble. 67% of consumers reported that if they get lost in route to a business they lose trust in the brand.
- Review sites: Businesses can improve their online visibility on review sites like Yelp, but it’s important that businesses claim their listings when possible, to ensure visitors are getting the most accurate information possible. Listings on review sites can improve local search rankings as well.
- Website: Nearly half (46%) of small businesses still do not have websites, either because they don’t believe it’s relevant to their industry (32%) or because of the anticipated costs (30%). These businesses are missing out on a major opportunity, as 81% of Americans say they research online before making a purchase, and a business’s website is generally the first place they visit.
- Social media marketing: Every business should have a presence on social media, regardless of industry or size. Multi-location retailers are often best served by having separate social media pages for each store, updated with correct addresses, phone numbers, and business hours.
Local presence management encompasses a lot, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll lay out the steps that businesses, and the agencies that serve them, can take to gain more control over local presence, with the goal of bringing more online consumers into brick-and-mortar locations.
Starting by looking at why strategies that focus exclusively on one channel are doomed to fail, we’ll go on to discuss the data that’s gathered by consumers online and why data from certain touchpoints might impact other touchpoints. Finally, we’ll discuss the importance of having a local presence management strategy in place, particularly when it comes to helping marketers review, correct, and optimize their local marketing tactics.
Advice Local has opened up their dashboard to us, and throughout this series we will share glimpses of their local presence management dashboard.
If you would like to get your own behind-the-scenes tour of a local presence management solution, Advice Local’s team will guide you through the company’s comprehensive local presence management solution. Click here to request a demo.