5 Big Marketing Opportunities for Multi-Location Brands

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At SOCi, we’ve just released the results of our 2022 Localized Marketing Benchmark Report (LMBR), a massive study that examines over 100 local marketing metrics across 230,000 U.S. business locations in 24 industries. In total, we’ve analyzed approximately 12.9 billion data points, using a methodology that measures signals of good performance in local search marketing, social media marketing, and reputation management.

This is the fourth annual LMBR report; the data used in the analysis was provided by data partner Places Scout. Those interested in the full results can check out the report here. In this article, I’ll highlight just a few of the key takeaways for multi-location marketers.

1. The Power of Google Profile Optimization

Optimization of Google Business Profiles is the single most important tactic for ranking well in local search. Our findings in the 2022 LMBR show that the four biggest opportunities for improved profile optimization are: 

  • Add compelling local photos illustrating your product and services. Our research shows that only 3.4% of Google photos are uploaded by the business.
  • Add secondary URLs promoting online booking, ordering, or additional info. Some 29% of brands are neglecting this opportunity.
  • Add merchant descriptions and service attributes calling out differentiating features. Descriptions are missing entirely for 9% of brand locations.
  • Use secondary categories to highlight (and rank for) additional lines of business. Some 8% of brand locations have no secondary categories.

2. Building Blocks of Onsite SEO

Brands are generally doing a great job of optimizing local landing pages, according to 2022 LMBR results: 94.1% have a logical local page URL structure; 99.7% of local pages are responsive; 99.8% have local pages with phone numbers that match the Google profile. However, 40% of brands are missing a big opportunity by failing to properly configure local business schema. Local business schema is important because:

  • Schema shows Google and other search engines that your pages represent local businesses.
  • Schema highlights important business details such as address, phone, and hours of operation.
  • Schema aligns your local page details with your Google profiles.

3. The Importance of an Omnichannel Strategy

The 2022 LMBR measures overall performance of brands in the form of a Local Visibility Score, as well as the disparity between scores in our three focus areas: search, social, and reputation. Brands with the highest overall scores and the least disparity are the ones driving the greatest success in localized marketing. Brands that neglect search in favor of social, or are otherwise unbalanced, miss out on benefits like these:

  • Presence in Google’s 3-Pack. The highest performing brands in our study achieved 62% presence in the 3-Pack; according to our research, these listings earn 126% more search traffic and 93% more clicks and calls than other businesses.
  • Higher Star Ratings. The top brands achieve a 4.3-star average across Google, Yelp, and Facebook. As star rating increases, locations are more likely to rank in the 3-Pack and more likely to convert searchers into buyers.
  • Greater Social Engagement. Top brands earn 69 engagements per Facebook post, thereby achieving high levels of brand awareness and discovery; according to the Influencer Marketing Factory, 82% of users have made a purchase after discovering a brand in social media.

4. Benchmarking Brings Local Strategy Down to Earth

The benchmarks in the 2022 LMBR establish the minimum performance level required to outperform the average competitor. Though brands should ultimately strive for maximum performance levels, this long-term strategy starts with short-term tactics. The first goal of any brand should be to outperform the average competitor. For example:

  • Brands should respond to all reviews, but our benchmarks tell us that merely responding to 37% of reviews on Google exceeds the response rate of the average multi-location business.
  • Brands will begin to outpace the average for social engagement by earning 14 engagements per post.
  • Exceeding 91% profile completeness across Google, Yelp, and Facebook will place brands in the higher tier of competitors.

5. The Easiest Wins in Local Marketing

The metrics generated in the 2022 LMBR cover a broad range of highs and lows. Some bars are pretty high — on Google, for instance, the average brand has 98% profile optimization with a rating of 4.2 and 224 reviews. But other stats indicate easy wins for brands who are paying attention:

  • Brands overall respond to only 7% of the questions asked on Google profiles. This is a huge opportunity to build engagement at the local level, where exceeding the average should be highly achievable for many brands.
  • Timeliness of review response is another area of opportunity, with brands taking 27 days on average to respond to Google reviews. Faster responses show customers you care about their feedback. 
  • Google Posts are a great method for driving conversion in Google profiles and have been featured more prominently in 2022 than before. The average brand only posts 2.4 times per year per location, so this is another easy win for brands looking to outpace the competition. 
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Damian Rollison is Director of Market Insights at SOCi.