This has been the most active year in the history of local search when it comes to the introduction of new features. Google recently announced that it had made nearly 250 updates to Google Maps since the start of the pandemic, and just about every other local publisher, including Yelp, Bing, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, and even Apple Maps, has been busy.
As we near the end of this unusual year, I thought it would be useful to take stock of these changes and note the ones that are the most significant.
Grocery stores are doing more business than pre-pandemic, with average weekly household grocery bills surging from $120 to $161 at the height of statewide lockdowns this spring. Many restaurants are pivoting right now to promote their takeout and delivery options. Health and wellness websites are fielding questions about coronavirus, as are many news publishers.
Leaning into the changes means understanding and responding to the challenges consumers are facing right now and setting up a search strategy that focuses on providing the best experiences possible.
Google’s World is shorthand for the fully fleshed-out concept: “It’s Google’s world… we’re all just living in it.” The main thrust is that Google’s search dominance gives it enormous control in impacting the fate of businesses everywhere who rely on search for traffic and customer acquisition.
Google’s ongoing updates to the search algorithm, ranking factors, and SERPs continue to have ripple effects on marketers everywhere. It’s becoming more challenging to follow the moving target of SEO effectiveness. This game has its own set of rules when it comes to local search.
Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast projects that e-commerce holiday sales will grow by 25% to 35% year over year, compared to a sales increase of 14.7% last year. Here’s a five-point holiday prep list to help ensure your digital commerce experiences stack up and are ready to engage the influx of shoppers this holiday season.
More purchases will be made online, and when consumers do venture out to stores, they expect thorough, stringent safety practices as well as tools that help to make shopping as efficient as possible. Popular shopping events like Black Friday are likely to capture far less attention from consumers this year.
But on a positive note, consumers generally feel confident that their holiday budgets will be consistent with prior years and that the amount of time allocated for holiday shopping won’t change significantly.
While this holiday season will be unlike any other, retailers have reason to be optimistic. Holiday sales are set to rise 1% to 1.5%, with e-commerce growing as much as 35%. Consumers are expected to spend between $1.147 trillion and $1.152 trillion between November and January. Much of that spending will happen with large retail chains that have omni-channel experiences already set up, and that has smaller retailers rushing to put their own mobile strategies in place.
We’re in an era that allows enterprise businesses to tap into the API and upload Google Posts at scale (with help from a local platform management partner). Year-round, businesses can feature new product launches, new store openings, in-store events, and more, but perhaps one of the best times of year to leverage this space is during the months of November and December, when shoppers are gearing up for the holiday season.
Let’s walk through the top five best uses for Google Posts over the holiday season.
It’s not even November, but the holiday shopping season has already begun. With nearly two-thirds of consumers saying the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their attitude toward the shopping season, retail marketers are rethinking their approach this year and focusing more heavily on empathy and values when they target younger shoppers.
Prior to Covid-19, traditional demographics still directed many brands’ targeting strategies. However, the pandemic has laid bare just how flawed this method can be. We believe that the best measure of what someone will purchase in the future is looking at what they’ve purchased in the past. This holds true even in an uncertain market and is invaluable for retailers as the holidays approach.
When marketers are all using the same platforms and automation tools to bid and compete against each other this holiday season (like with Facebook Automated App Ads and Google App Campaigns), the key differentiator will be ad creative. Preparing an arsenal of high-performing creative will be critical to advertisers in order to keep costs down and be effective this year.
As the pandemic continues, consumers are shifting their expectations of brands as well. They don’t just want coupons in their email anymore, they expect an intuitive browsing and checkout process, accurate inventory and out-of-stock notifications, curbside delivery, and fast shipping.
E-commerce is already a must-have, and small businesses who understand this and take steps to offer their customers a way to buy online will create a memorable experience, more long-term loyalty, and ultimately more sales this holiday season.
With consumers still spending – and their evolving shopping preferences and behaviors becoming increasingly clear for Halloween and beyond – October presents a prime opportunity for retailers to pressure-test and refine their holiday 2020 strategies.
Here are three considerations as we enter one of the most critical quarters in retail’s history.
Marketers overuse the word “unique,” but the adjective actually applies to this year’s holiday season. Consumer-facing brands and retailers have not faced such an adverse economic environment for more than a decade, and they have never grappled with a Q4 in which driving customers to their stores came with daily, life-or-death stakes.
I spoke to Michele Marzan, chief strategy officer at MainAd, about these holidays’ unprecedented challenges and unexpected opportunities.
“Retailers are responding to social distancing guidelines [this] year and preparing for potential decreases in spending by kicking off promotions earlier than we’ve ever seen,” says Dosh CEO Ryan Wuerch.
Wuerch says Covid-19 safety protocols require a more elongated approach to holiday marketing. Kohl’s, L Brands, and Macy’s have all referenced pulling forward holiday promotions, and Amazon’s Prime Day later this month seems perfectly timed to pull in early holiday shoppers.
Entering Q4 means many things, but to us it points to the media and commerce world’s annual culmination. That’s right — in this time warp of a year, we’re entering the holidays. Considering the oddities of 2020, what will this year’s holiday season look like? We know for sure it will not be normal.
Answering that question will be Street Fight’s October editorial focus. Branded with the cheeky title “Home for the Holidays,” (title credit: Damian Rollison), this month’s focus will be defining the holiday shopping dynamics of a socially distanced and sheltered-in-place world. What will be different?
As the pandemic has worn on, marketers have begun to ask what’s next. How do you keep open and click-through rates high, even as consumers shift back from e-commerce to in-person shopping? The answer, for many, involves maps.
Just look at Torrid, the women’s retail chain formerly owned by Hot Topic, with more than 600 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers 51Degrees partnering with Digital Element, Stirista acquiring Nikaza’s attribution and location intelligence engine, Torrid finding success with email marketing using personalized maps, and FedEx launching real-time package tracking with SenseAware ID.
Apple surprised the local search world last month when it announced local business reviews in Maps. Similar to its other search-based efforts, Apple formerly relied on partners like Yelp for local listings and reviews. But now, as part of its broader data-driven Maps overhaul, it will phase in original content.
Much has been written about this within the local search publishing world and analyst corps, including my colleague Stephanie Miles’ article on how brands can prepare for Apple Maps reviews here on Street Fight. So in the interest of treading new ground, what less-discussed clues lie in Apple’s recent mapping moves that can triangulate its direction?
Techniques for measuring DOOH exposure and mapping to give cross-device measurement more meaning are being utilized by larger brand marketers, but smaller companies are also getting into the game and finding innovative ways to layer maps onto their local strategies.
Here are five ways that marketers can use mapping technology in their local campaigns.
What does “Mapping the Future” entail? As a primary tool for consumer local search and discovery, mapping continues to undergo UX innovations and structural changes. We’ll examine these areas as well as mapping’s interplay with local search and SEO strategies.
Though mapping is more of a Street Fight staple than a trending topic, market signals indicate that the timing is right. In fact, we already got started last month with a look at Snapchat’s moves into local mapping — not just UX upgrades to Snap Map but also self-serve advertising for local businesses.