5 Things to Remember When Going Local

When brands embark on a local strategy, we often see good and bad in their approach. The good is that they’ve gotten into the game, and it’s a great game to be in. The bad is that they miss opportunities to bring the full force of their national strategy into a local context.

We polled a small group of industry experts about what missed opportunities they see and what they most often recommend to their clients. Here are their top five, in no particular order:

1. Make your mobile website local-friendly. The consumers that respond best to local marketing are on mobile devices. But many enterprise companies fail to take this into account when creating their website. Instead, they either translate their entire site to be mobile-accessible or create a stripped-down version of their content for mobile.

You should always try to think locally with mobile sites. Decide which content should be in both places, and think deeply about the specific content for mobile that answers a customer’s need for immediacy and action. For example, we recently entered a search for “car rental deals in Seattle” and followed the links to various car rental sites. One resolved us to a generic mobile page that would reach every person in the country. Not exactly what you want to see when you’re at the point of renting a car! The search result link could have (and should have) presented the user with a local deal, which would very likely have resulted in a high conversion rate.

2. Go mobile with your loyalty program. Loyalty programs are a popular way to provide discounts to consumers, but they often are a one-way street. A brand provides a special offer and consumers either respond or don’t.

You can open a much richer dialogue by making mobile the primary enabler of your loyalty program. Create an app that not only offers discounts, but also tracks how customers interact with your brand and rewards them based on their actions. Look beyond purchasing behavior, too. You can also offer special rewards for customers who share your brand on social networking sites or sign up new customers.

3. Get creative with real rewards. If you do have a mobile loyalty program, great, but you also need to make it worthwhile for your customers. Too often we see an otherwise great loyalty program water itself down by offering 10 percent discounts whenever a person gets within a particular location. This is not how you get your fans to be advocates for your brand. Instead, give them more enticing rewards like freebies, offers that they can share with friends, and input and insight on new product offerings.

4. Remember that people in a location are still individuals. It’s easy to get lazy about local and focus exclusively on location, but not everyone in a place has the same intentions. You should still deploy all of the analytics tools at your disposal to deepen your understanding of your consumer and target messages more effectively. In particular, try to look through the lenses of location history, past locations, demographics, peak usage time, time spent, mode of travel, and other data gathered over time.

5. Talk to people differently in different localities. Even with a website, you can always go local by creating different content and deals based on location. We recently had a client (an airline) that was using the same content and imagery for all of its clients around the country. But a palm tree means different things to a person in Hawaii (it’s what’s shedding and creating a mess in your front yard) than to a person in Alaska (it’s paradise in arboreal form). By changing content and deals to be sensitive to location, we were able to achieve a significant lift in conversions for our client.

Do you have any guidelines of your own or a story to share about the brands you work with? Get in touch with us, and we may share your story too.

Local image on home page via Shutterstock.

This column was originally published on May 14, 2012.

Related reading

Website landing page vector graphic
Hand holding smartphone with city map and store location on screen and store icon.