Embracing the Local Movement

  |  February 23, 2011   |  Comments

Three easy steps to localize your user experience.

The rapid success of sites such as Groupon and Foursquare highlight the value and appetite for local content. By featuring local deals and specials, these companies are taking the concept of relevancy down to the Zip Code. However, not just social or couponing sites can benefit from providing a local view into products, services, and support. For many organizations, localizing content can improve the relevancy of content and information – and can even be optimized to respond to regional variations in everything from seasonal goods to pricing.

Product Feature

Featuring locally-relevant products is one of the primary ways retailers of all sizes can take advantage of geo-targeting. For example, a national sporting goods chain may feature Cubs jerseys for audiences coming from the Midwest, but for fans coming from Miami, Heat jerseys would be a much more logical choice. Without any structural changes to the site, the organization is making an easy change to improve content relevance. This can be done without complex segmentation, profiling, or ad network data. In fact, ESPN.com is taking it one step further. It is now producing fully localized versions of its site, with unique articles, features, and imagery for its largest markets – Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Boston.

Seasonality

How many space heaters does Home Depot sell in the south? Probably very few – outside of December, where temperatures may drop in the 50s for a day or two. But in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, customers who are digging out of one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record are much more likely to be in need of a little extra warmth. HomeDepot.com uses its "Items You May Like" component on its home page to feature locally relevant content – visitors coming to the site from Chicago are seeing space heaters in two of the six promotional areas – while visitors from Miami are targeted with promotions for outdoor patios. This is a way to show the visitors you recognize their needs and are not treating all visitors to a generic experience.

Pricing

From gallons of gas to pints of milk, regional variation in pricing is not only a topic of conversation between relatives in distant locations, but a frequent occurrence for online shoppers. When entering a new market or fighting an intense regional battle, retailers tend to have very competitive prices, both in store and online. But in markets where there is less competition, or less of a market for certain products, prices may rise. For products or services where multiple vendors are selling the same thing – such as installation of cable or home security systems – the third-party vendors are often able to set their own prices, encouraging further volatility in the online pricing of goods. You can see this on their sites and when searching for new services. This is especially prevalent in paid search and display advertising, where the vendors use price to capture a lead before converting the user.

Whether you are a national retailer looking to shed the "big box" personality or a local retailer looking to take advantage of your insight into regional preferences and trends, localizing content provides a compelling option to personalize the user experience without having to invest in extensive profiling or targeting strategies.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Fishman

Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.

Andrea has been with BGT since 2003 and is credited with strengthening partnerships with such clients as ADT, Sony, ADP, and Avaya. Prior to joining BGT, she served as global vice president at divine, inc. She's also held strategic positions within marchFIRST, The Lewin Group, and the office of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman was awarded the Wasserman Scholarship for academic achievement and was named a 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business. She is a frequent judge for the eHealthcare Leadership Awards and is involved with the Special Olympics and Chicago Cares, a community service organization.

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