Study: Multi-Location Businesses Underestimate Power of Local Digital Strategy

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Marketing technology has changed the way consumers find, choose, and return to businesses. The majority of multi-location businesses have successfully implemented broad strategies to be discovered by consumers. However,  research shows many are failing to fully leverage the latest tools for local discovery, engagement, and conversion. In a new report, the CX solutions provider Uberall looked at how multi-location businesses are adapting to the digital customer across industries and locations. Surveying over 450 businesses across the globe, the company found some misplaced optimism around local digital marketing maturity. 

The pandemic created urgency and led more location-based businesses to lean into digital. Not surprisingly,  Uberall found that overall local digital marketing maturity is still lagging. The majority of North American multi-location businesses do have the basics covered. This includes items like local business directories and local social pages.  But most are not leveraging these tools for maximum exposure and impact.

Among the survey’s most notable findings were that 39% of multi-location businesses in North America don’t include a list of local stores on their website.  Almost half (48%) don’t provide local landing pages for each physical store.

Uberall found that 57% of North American businesses have a moderately mature approach to making themselves found online. Yet, customer experience declines when it comes to optimizing for conversion (53%) and driving loyalty (50%). 

“It is pretty incredible to see how much opportunity there is for businesses to leapfrog competitors when it comes to local digital marketing. Identifying some of the untapped opportunities and focusing in can really help a business standout online. Thereby driving more revenue in a tough economic climate,” says Alyssa Trenkamp, Uberall’s vice president of brand marketing and communications. 

One of the clearest examples of this involves the big kahuna of local digital marketing, Google Business Profiles. Uberall’s survey found that 72% of businesses don’t actively manage Google Chat. Additionally,  67% don’t utilize Google Posts, and 57% don’t actively manage Google Q&A. Trenkamp says review management and local social also present untapped opportunities for multi-location businesses.  The reports has  41% of businesses reporting they don’t respond to reviews frequently enough and 34% saying they lack a local social strategy.

“Multi-location brands, have in many cases, over-indexed on broad corporate digital marketing efforts> They often underestimate the power of local digital marketing to influence high-intent buyers closer to the point of purchase,” Trenkamp says.

Comparing sectors, Uberall found that the financial services industry is the most mature, followed by retail. At the other end of the spectrum, verticals for gas/EV service stations and convenience stores ranked among the least mature. Restaurants also ranked near the bottom of the list in their use of digital marketing.

Consumers continuing to leverage digital channels for nearly every purchase decision. Trenkamp says multi-location brands can’t afford to continue missing the mark or settling for average when it comes to local marketing strategy. She would like to see more businesses take control over their strategy, so they can gain a better understanding of what “good” marketing looks like. This would also include where their own businesses stand in relation to the competition. 

“Multi-location businesses need to stay a step ahead of the competition. But often underestimate the ongoing investment or continuous improvement required,” Trenkamp says. “The rules to succeed in local search, reputation management, and more, are constantly changing. For example a lot of businesses have chatbots on their corporate website, but often completely neglect chat on a local level. When a high-intent buyer is looking for information from a nearby location, they are left with unanswered questions. This may lead them to abandon their purchase journey.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.