3 Recession Priorities for Multi-Location Marketers
A looming recession has a way of sucking the air out of all the hyped-up balloons in digital marketing, forcing brands to focus on the core tasks required to build relationships with customers and drive revenue. When money is abundant, marketers spend afternoons daydreaming about the metaverse. When it is tight, marketing goes on the chopping block, and only essential items make the cut.
What brands, and multi-location brands in particular, cannot ignore is showing up for their customers. Even during a recession, marketers will spend to ensure that the customers searching for them find them, that they have a positive experience, and that they can easily find whatever they need to convert. This is what marketers will need to zero in on amid a possible market contraction.
In short, brand marketers wondering what to prioritize in the potentially turbulent times ahead should focus on discoverability; robust, localized experiences; and frictionless journeys. Here’s what delivering on each of those three marketing objectives entails.
What marketers cannot afford during a recession is failing to capture the demand of customers actively seeking their brand or products. That means that when a shopper searches for “Nike nyc” or “sneakers near me,” Nike must be sure to show up.
There are three tenets of local discoverability, as anyone can see by typing a search like “Nike nyc” into Google: organic, listings management, and paid.
In terms of organic search, notice that in the image below, after the Maps 3-pack showing three specific Nike locations in New York City, the first link that pops up is not the website of Nike’s headquarters — it’s a local site tailored to New York City. This is key, as it can help the customer quickly find what they need from a store near them, not saddle them with the responsibility of finding a nearby location.
Next is listings management or data syndication. Nike has clearly done a great job of providing Google the information it needs to supply the searcher with three specific stores near them as well as the hours, addresses, and phone numbers of those locations. This, again, makes Nike eminently discoverable, almost as if the shopper were simply searching for a small local business.
The final potential tenet of brand discoverability is paid advertising. Brands can skip this, but if they have the budget for it, they can show specific products available now at local stores (as in the Saks SERP below). This facilitates a purchase by helping the customer discover what they need as soon as possible.
Build local experiences
The pandemic raised the bar for hybrid online-to-offline experiences. To satisfy customers’ hunger for convenience, brands need to offer localized online experiences that mirror the experience of visiting an in-person store and fill the online-to-offline gap.
Let’s return to the example of Nike. When a shopper Googles “Nike nyc” and clicks on the sneaker brand’s first search result, they find a page that says “Nike NYC” at the top and includes a welcome banner saying “Welcome to Nike NYC.” The shopper immediately knows they are in the right place and can find products near them. Then, Nike provides location-specific services such as a run club and trainers to help shoppers find valuable services related to the brand’s core product. This is an example of a brand providing localized value above and beyond basic product discovery.
Saks goes one step further with its local sites. As the image below shows, the company offers a slew of location-specific products and services that go far beyond the old standard of name, address, and phone number. Shoppers can request an appointment with a stylist at a specific location, check out the on-site restaurant, find out which departments are available, or book a massage, spa appointment, or beauty consultation. All of this ensures the local shopper with high intent will convert into a customer and even leave with an above-average basket size, especially key objectives to meet during tough economic times.
Craft a frictionless journey
The final tenet of a strong multi-location brand marketing strategy is a frictionless journey. Marketers that master discoverability and localized experiences will attract the attention of shoppers and even get them to check out location-specific products and services. A frictionless appointment booking or checkout experience is how marketers close the deal and drive revenue.
As much as nearly 70% of online carts are abandoned. At any time, but especially during a recession or even a bear market when shoppers are clutching the purse more tightly, marketers cannot afford to let those dollars go. To minimize abandonment, implement one-click checkout. Offer customers the opportunity to register their information the first time so that it automatically fills out the second. Avoid asking for redundant information, and consider offering discounts at checkout to close the deal.
Marketing is notoriously among the first departments to face cuts amid adverse economic conditions. Many marketers are likely to worry about their programs or, at worst, their jobs. Delivering on the fundamentals to help shoppers find a brand, add extra items to their cart, and convert will show that a strong customer experience, an essential element of marketing, drives revenue. The CFO can’t argue with that.
Mark Michael is the CEO and co-founder of DevHub.