3 Google My Business Features

3 Little-Known Features to Improve Your Google My Business Page

Google My Business (GMB) is becoming more and more important to small businesses and franchises that want to market to local customers. That’s because your local listing can be one of the first things that show up when customers look for you. It can even help improve your company’s local SEO.

You’re probably familiar with GMB’s main features. You list your business on it with your address, contact information, website, maybe a few photos, and your hours of operation. However, you may not be familiar with some features they’ve released within the past year and how these features can improve your Google My Business page.

By using these 3 features, your customers will have more opportunities to interact with your business so you can stand out from your local competition with your listing.

#1 Products Catalog – A Great Way to Showcase Your Merchandise

The products catalog lets you showcase all of your products and group them by collections. To add a product and/or collection, go to the Products tab on the left of your Google My Business’s profile.

Once you’re in the products section, you can start building products and collections.

A product is a single item you sell, while a collection is a group of products that are tied together. So if you sell pet supplies, you might have a pet food collection and a separate pet accessories collection, each with products in those categories.

For each product that you list you can add:

  • Product image
  • Collection
  • Product name  (optional)
  • Additional details  (optional)
  • Price (optional)

If you sell dozens of products, start small. Choose to highlight only your most popular products first, and once those are built out you can add more.

While product posts work for most industries, there are restrictions on products for alcohol, gambling, financial services, etc.

#2 Google My Business Questions & Answer to Answer Customer Questions

The Q&A feature is another GMB feature that not many business owners are aware of. In this section of GMB anyone can ask or answer questions about your business. You may have a customer ask about your hours or about your return policy. Their question can be answered by either you or other customers.

A good practice is to set up notifications so you can quickly answer any questions that a customer might have. You can try experimenting with the Q&A by putting in a few of your most common questions from customers using your business profile. Then go back and answer those questions so customers can have more information about your store.

There are some restrictions on the Q&A section. You can’t put links to websites, email addresses or phone numbers. However, you can also report comments if you feel like someone is abusing the system.

#3 Google My Business Posts to Increase Engagement

Another Google My Business newer feature is posts. A GMB Post is a short snippet that will show up on your profile for 7 days before being retired to the posts page. Here’s an example of a product post for a shutters company.

There are four types of posts:

  • What’s new
  • Events
  • Products
  • Offers

What’s New posts talk about new things happening with your business. Events are to highlight upcoming events your business has like a Mother’s Day brunch or a yoga class. Products posts lets you showcase a featured product or up to 10 products outside of your catalog for 7 days. And Offers are where you can share promotional information like sales.  

Posts can include a photo or video, short description, and button/link with a call to action. All of the posts will show on your Google My Business listing main page for 7 days before they’re retired to the posts section.

So there are your three little known features of Google My Business. Hopefully, by experimenting with some of these features, you can improve your Google My Business page and draw more local customers to your store.

Do You Need Help Managing Multiple Google My Business Listings?

If you’re a franchise or multilocation company that needs help with your GMB listings, give us a call 317-576-2855 or fill out the form below. We can help you create your listings, get added to other local directories, and manage the listings for all of your locations to you improve your listings and save time on managing them.

5 Ways To Increase Local SEO For Franchisees

If you’re a local franchisee with a small budget, it can seem overwhelming to know how to increase your local SEO and compete against national companies. Luckily for you, it’s possible for your local website to rank higher than national brands online when you take a local strategy.

Taking a local strategy is key because it’s easier to rank for local terms like “bike shop in Pittsburg” instead of “bike shop.” Google and other search engines want to give customers what they’re searching for. So if customers are looking for local businesses, that’s what Google shows them.

So how do you start building a local marketing and web strategy as a franchisee? It depends on how you’re set up as a franchisee.

If your franchise shows up as a page under your national franchise brand’s website, then you may not have as much control over your local SEO. So you should focus on the first two methods that aren’t on your website: local listings and reviews. Then you can try to persuade your corporate office to put more resources into local SEO by using the suggestions in the rest of the article.

Get listed on Google My Business and other listing services

When you search for a business category on Google — either by mobile or desktop — a map with some local listings is what first appears. These listings show the essential stats for a local business including their website, reviews, address, and phone. These stats come from Google My Business (GMB). It’s one of the main ways your local customers find you online.

For example, when you search for a local service like “Pet grooming Dayton Ohio” in Google, chances are one of the first results may be a map.

Google My Business map of pet grooming studio

Your potential customer can then click on one of these listings or go directly to a provider’s website or reviews. If the customer clicks on a listing, they’ll see this screen which shows them the business’ contact information, a link to the company’s website, reviews, photos, and questions and answers.

By building out your GMB listing you can increase your chances of being seen by your local customers and also give them relevant information like your hours, website link, reviews, etc.

Google My Business isn’t the only listing you should create. We recommend adding your business to other listings that your customers search for. These might include Yelp, TripAdvisor, Bing, Manta, etc. Find out which ones your customers search on and then add your business to those listings. You can also use local listing services to manage all of your listings.

Solicit reviews from customers

What’s one of the first steps customers take when researching local companies? Finding reviews of them online.

So if reviews are so important, how do you build up positive customer reviews from your customers?

Decide which avenue(s) is most important and send customers there

Some businesses may have customers looking them up on Facebook, while other franchisees’ customers look them up on Google or TripAdvisor. Find out which venue most of your customers look for and post reviews on and then focus your energy on those one or two platforms.

Build a strategy for how you’ll get reviews

If you want to build up your reviews, you need to be proactive and ask your customers for reviews. First, decide when you’ll ask your customer for a review. Is it in person? Through a follow-up text or email? The best time to ask for a review is when your customer has had some time using your product or service, but the experience is still fresh. Make it easy for them by including a link that sends them directly to where you want them to review.

Optimize Your Site for SEO

If, for example, you’re a franchisee of a pet boarding studio in Dayton, Ohio, you want to show up when people search for “pet boarding Dayton.” You can pay for Facebook ads or Google ads which cost money, or you can optimize your site for local SEO. Here are some basic steps to take to increase your local SEO by optimizing your site.

Decide which local keywords you want to rank for

Local keywords like “pet boarding Dayton” instead of just “pet boarding” are at the heart of your SEO strategy. By targeting local keywords, you have a higher chance of ranking higher in the search results, even against larger brands. Google knows that when a customer is searching for a local service like pet boarding, they want local results to show up.

So think of the product or services you offer and build a keyword list around them. If you want to get more advanced, you can do keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, or Ubersuggest.

For example, if you offer pet boarding for both cats and dogs as well as additional services like grooming you could try to rank for the terms:

  • Pet boarding studio Dayton
  • Dog boarding Dayton
  • Cat boarding Dayton
  • Pet grooming Dayton
  • Overnight pet boarding Dayton
  • Doggie daycare Dayton

Match those keywords to pages on your site

Once you have your list of core local keywords, match them to pages on your site. If you have a page that currently has information on both overnight boarding and daytime boarding, consider splitting it into two pages so that you can rank for both terms.

You may need to build new pages or add new content to existing pages so that each of your core pages has a keyword that you want to rank for.

Add those keywords to key parts of your pages

You want to tell Google and other search engines exactly what each page is about, using your keyword strategy. So add your keyword phrase to your page’s title, headline, and 3-5 times in the text. Try to make your keywords as natural as possible, because it’s important that your customer has a good reading experience with your page.  Also, avoid keyword stuffing where you’re putting a lot of keywords in your page so that you rank better because Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing.

Explore more advanced SEO techniques

Once you’ve built your keyword strategy, explore other ways to improve your site’s ranking. This can include your site’s organization and schema, increasing your site speed, etc.  

Create local content

Local content such as articles or blog posts that focus on helping your local customers is a great local SEO strategy. That’s because:

  1. Your customers search for local content
  2. Writing content establishes you as a local authority for your customers
  3. Google gives priority to local content and local content can rank higher than national content

So maybe you write a blog post about how Dayton residents can prepare their pets for an overnight stay at your local boarding studio. You could focus on how Dayton’s weather and seasons might affect their pet, or benefits of your particular studio.

By taking a local focus, you’re more likely to rank when your customers search for “preparing my pet for overnight stay Dayton” compared to a broader article where you’re competing with other boarding studios all over the nation.  

Get relevant backlinks

Another way to increase your SEO rankings is by getting relevant backlinks. What are backlinks and why are they important?

Backlinks are when other websites link to your website. These websites could include publications like your local newspaper, industry listings such as Yelp, etc. When your site has backlinks from reputable websites that have a strong domain authority, then Google considers your site to be more trustworthy since these sites linked to you.

So think about ways to get backlinks to your site. Maybe you can be featured in a local newspaper story that’s posted online and linked to your site. Or you could join an industry publication or directory that includes a link to your site.

Take the First Step to Increase Your SEO

Now you know a few ways to increase your SEO on your website. Choose one strategy to start with and build from there. If you want some more help with local listings, writing localized content, or building a franchise listing contact us at 317-576-2855.  


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How Local Content Marketing Helps Franchises Succeed

To understand the importance of local content marketing, let’s take a pop quiz.

Homeowner A needs a new roof on his house.  So does Homeowner B.

You, being the business owner that wants to sell each of them a new roof, can broadcast your company’s well-researched, broad-based marketing campaign at both of them, and hopefully land both sales.

Right?

Not really.

Because Homeowner A lives in Pasadena, California and Homeowner B lives in Newark, New Jersey. Homeowner A needs to make sure his shingles won’t melt and he’ll still have room for solar panels. Homeowner B just wants to know his roof won’t collapse under two feet of snow come January.

Since your well-researched, broad-based marketing campaign focuses on your lifetime warranty, proven craftsmanship, and decades of professional service as a company, you might miss out on BOTH sales.

See, as meaningful as your umbrella message is, it doesn’t mean something specific to the unique local needs of Homeowner A or Homeowner B.

So how does a franchisee – or a franchisor – avoid this pitfall?

For Multi-location Businesses Serving A Wide Geography, Your Company’s Message May Not Be Enough

So what can multi-location businesses do to secure those sales in both Pasadena and Newark? The onus is on both the franchisee and the franchisor to deploy local content marketing strategies that serve individual locations equally well, so both can capture sales.

The Local Franchisee Challenge – Own Your Space, Focus On Local Content

Some new business franchise owners come into the job believing that all of their marketing will be taken care of “by corporate.” And while it’s true that franchisees do get some help in that area, at least compared to independent small businesses, the most successful marketing campaigns have work put in by both sides.

Own Your Own Space

The first responsibility franchisees have in digital marketing is in owning their own space. A business’s physical brick and mortar location is unique unto itself; it has specific needs to maintain its curb appeal, interior design and product layout – all ways in which it attracts and retains local customers. Why should their online presence be any different? A franchise website has its own needs for local prominence that may be neglected.

“But corporate set us up with a website and it looks fine,” a local franchisee say.

Looking presentable and being effective in leading customers through a sales funnel are two completely separate things. All too often, franchisors roll out a suite of websites for each of their locations, only for every one to give mediocre performances when it comes to driving organic web traffic or conversions. Though made with the best of intentions, these sites serve up duplicate content, recycled images, and vaguely audience-targeted messaging. In trying to capture every customer, they usually capture none.

When a single location in a multi-location business is able to own their online space, however, the benefits are undeniable. Any unique content, be it in copy, photos or beyond, is proven to be incredibly helpful to SEO performance. That unique content is also able to target the unique local needs of their specific customer base, something that might not be feasible for a nationwide cookie-cutter marketing campaign.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the need to focus on the local when it comes to local content marketing.

Focus on Local Content

With that owned space comes the next responsibility: focus on local content. Even if all the marketing efforts thought to be handled on the corporate end came through, they still might not be doing much for local franchisees.

Like with the roofing example discussed at the beginning, all the great features of a product or service pales in comparison to customers’ unique needs – those are the things your customers are going to be looking for when they open up their search engine. The search engines know this as well, and tend to reward local content with higher rankings on results pages.

Luckily, franchisees have something that corporate doesn’t in their corner: knowledge of your local customer base. They know who their prototypical customer is, what products they’re interested in, why they choose that particular company, and a slew of other useful information.

When forming a marketing strategy, multi-location businesses are able to use that knowledge to tailor their content in multiple ways:

  • Geographic targeting – Use geomodifiers often to appeal both to search engines and individuals. A geomodifier is a location-specific keyword, such as a city, state, or region that you want to target. Knowing how one’s customers talk about where they live can help better capture potential leads–for example targeting customers interested in a “Brooklyn plumber” versus a “New York City plumber.”
  • Address specific issues – What are the customers’ primary needs? Are they unique in any way, especially to their location? Going back again to our first roofing example, a headline of “What Newark Homeowners Can Do To Protect Their Home From Winter Storms” is typically more effective (and pleasing to search engines) than “Stansbury Roofs Can Stand Up To Anything.” Not only does it stress a product benefit over a feature, but it targets a benefit unique to a local service area.

These are some of the more straightforward and salient methods of doing so, but are by no means the only ones.

Franchises, Start Working Towards Digital Marketing Success

If you’re ready to leave cookie-cutter design, duplicated content and vague marketing messages in your rear-view mirror, Flint Analytics can help you get started. As is our philosophy, to make the right decisions you need the right data, so let’s start talking about putting the numbers together to find a solution that will start you on the path to local content marketing success.

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/ramcreative

Let us solve your franchise marketing problem.


franchisee websites

Why Your Franchisees Are Marketing On Their Own Without Your Help

Local stores and franchisees are running their own online marketing efforts. We see it every day. These are often non-sanctioned marketing efforts. Even if they are allowed, they aren’t up to the standards of the parent company. The store could have created a rogue Facebook account, website, print campaign, or even television commercials.

But, why does the local store or franchisee do it? Why do they use their valuable time to run their own campaigns when they could just rely on the corporate campaigns and spending time running their business? There are several reasons for it, but they all stem from one thing. They aren’t satisfied with the help they are getting from corporate in driving business growth for their own store. And they are getting great results by doing it on their own.

So why aren’t they satisfied with the corporate marketing efforts? Because:

  • Corporate is focused on the whole nation and not the intricacies of their market.
  • Corporate efforts are not getting enough business out the gate for a newly established market.
  • Corporate search efforts are mainly on broad national search terms and not localized search terms.
  • They like to do things their own way.

National Campaigns Not Relevant

The franchise or corporate entity has limited resources and wants to use those the best they can. This often leads to nationally focused marketing campaigns that don’t take into account local variance. When you are selling HVAC services in Detroit and Miami, the message and concerns of the customer are different. You have to approach them differently. The Detroit customers have to worry about efficiently heating and cooling their home, while the Miami customers primarily worries about cooling their home and ensuring the comfortable existence in a high humidity area. The systems you install are different and the questions the customer has are different. Approaching them differently leads to a better buying experience where both parties are more likely to buy.

Nationally focused ad campaigns make it hard to accomplish this. Many national brands are doing a better job of this in their offline channels, ensuring that different areas are mentioned or that the pictures of the homes in their ads match the area. Likely because they have learned a lot about variable printing over the years. But, most are not doing the best when it comes to applying this strategy to the web, where more and more marketing dollars are being allocated every year as customers spend more time looking at computer screens and mobile devices.

One franchisee that we talked to did his own marketing and mentioned that the reason he did it is because people in his market didn’t understand the product as well. He said that in the hot markets for the company, customers only cared about how much, how fast, and what the quality was. Those markets didn’t need product category education. But, in his market, what customers cared about was knowing if the product would work in their home? What are the benefits? Does it fit with my home style?

Another thing about national only campaign strategies is that customers often want to work with a small business. While it is hard to consider many franchises as small businesses, locally based marketing strategies make franchises appear more local to the customer. They let the local business not only tell the national brand’s story, but the individual owner’s story as well. This ties the brand to the local community, making the business appear smaller to the customer as they feel they could actually talk to the person in charge.

gallup_trust_in_institutions_survey

Wow, you don’t want to be perceived as big business!

 

From the chart above, it shows that there is a 50 point spread between how much confidence a person in America has in small business versus their confidence in big business. With multi-location businesses then, you need to emphasize what is local about you, and that contributes to the desire of the location to wanting to do their own marketing.

Newly established market

When you are a new market for an existing franchise the marketing rules for your existing stores do not apply. Existing stores often need to do less education for current customers. But, a new store with a new product that the area hasn’t seen or completely grasped yet needs more dollars thrown towards education. Often, franchises approach the rollout of a new store with the same effort as they do for every other store. When in reality new stores need more money and need to hit more avenues for opening up business. This is partly because this new store does not have an existing book of business.

So when a new store launches they are often grasping for anything that can help them get off the ground, which makes them look for cost effective marketing solutions to help them in their market. This means, they start their own social media accounts and start posting. And since website costs have gone down, they may start a new website, but it often doesn’t meet corporate standards or corporate strategy. Maybe the corporate standards should change online then. And it is getting easier than ever for them to do this.

Power Of Local Search

I am going to put this out there and it will be surprising for most of you. Local small businesses can dominate the searches in their local market, and beat out large corporations. A well-run marketing campaign by the local business in a given market is almost always going to out-perform the national chain in the search engines, particularly Google. I see it every day. Just look at the following searches to see local companies organically ranking higher in organic results and even maps listings:

A few things to notice as you check out geo-targeted search terms in these markets. In all these cases the top or near the top searches are local businesses with a strong web presence. Sometimes they directly link of many local businesses such as a Yellow pages and other local directories. But, you will notice that the large national chain sites are hard to see. In fact, the best ranked national brands have local websites of their own as well. Over time this will become more and more commonplace. You will see more businesses and corporations using local websites to compete in search.

The calculation is simple. In Google’s and the customers’ opinion, what is more relevant: a corporate site with one page about that product or service in your area, or an entire website about that product or service in your area? This is especially true when it comes to more locally relevant content that refers to needs in that specific market. But, beware, there are right ways and wrong ways to do this. And unless you have the right website solution, the undertaking will be huge or the results will be poor due to the sites not being unique enough. So, seek out the right solution to make this work for your locations.

Any store that has started their own website has seen the benefits of having their own website. And it isn’t just increased traffic, it is increased conversion rates as well.

Doing Things Their Own Way

Many executives view stores that do their own marketing as owners or managers who just like to do their own thing, in their own way. They think that they simply want more control. And because they want to do things their own way, they aren’t being a team player, and they should stop their efforts. They also then devalue the work and insights that the local store came up with. The problem with that thinking is that if they are spending their own time and money on those efforts, then they likely have a very good reason for doing so.

It also means it might be time to learn from their efforts as they are a great experiment for you. While they might have done a poor job on their marketing or might have done marketing they shouldn’t have, they likely know have a lot of knowledge that can be applied to their specific business. And if you want to investigate doing your own local online marketing programs, these stores are a good place to start. Bottom line, no stores are really doing this, simply because they like to do things their own way. They are doing it because it works for them.

By combining their knowledge with corporate resources you can create a great program for every store.If you are ready to start talking to these stores and begin creating more localized marketing programs, give us a call.

 

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/ehrlif

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Localizing PPC Copy For Multi-Location Businesses

Ad copy is where you have some of the most creative opportunity in the paid search space.  That creativity comes with some boundaries since AdWords only allows a certain amount of characters to convey your message and earn a potential customer’s click. In order to accomplish this, you must not only appear in the space but you need to also appear relevant and be relevant to their local query.

When your goal is to capture local traffic and make yourself appear more relevant than your competition, there are a lot of things you can test to see what works best for your account. For multi-location businesses that have a national presence, it’s especially important to convey the benefits that come with a local based business, such as: responsive customer service, quick response times, a local brick and mortar location, and a local phone number. You can convey these things both in your ad copy and on your site/landing page.

Creative

When writing ad copy for a local location, you can help your ad stand out by utilizing local, specific information in the text. For instance, if I’m searching for Noblesville Indiana lawn care, as a searcher I’m more likely to respond to an ad that speaks to Noblesville service vs a generic brand ad that doesn’t mention my criteria at all. You can get creative with the type of localization you add depending on how granular your service area may be.

For instance, if you serve the greater Denver metro area, you could utilize well-known landmarks right in your ad to help potential customers see that you are, in fact, aware of the area and also give them some insight into what areas of a larger metro you serve.

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When writing your creative, avoid a “set it and forget it” mentality. As promos in your local area change, apply the promo details and deadlines in to your ad copy and extensions to create a sense of urgency and coincide with other offline marketing efforts in your local area.

Extensions

There are a large variety of extensions you can add to your account that can show along with your ad copy. These extensions add extra text and information outside of your 25-35-35 character limit and can also be tailored to appeal to people in your local vicinity.  Here are some ideas for things to implement in these extensions:

  • BBB ratings (if you have a favorable rating)
  • 3rd party reviews (local publications)
  • A call extension with a local area code
  • Sync your location extension with AdWords from Google My Business
  • Opt in to search partners so your ads are eligible to show in the maps channel
  • Utilize sitelinks with descriptions. When Google shows extended descriptions, it’s an additional opportunity to include text in your ad copy. You can link people to different pages of interest other than the final URL you choose for your ad.

Landing Pages

After you earn your potential customer’s attention and click, make sure you deliver on your ad promise with the landing page. Provide a localized experience that speaks to the geography and service your custom is looking for. Provide information about your role in the community where applicable, and it’s always a good idea to include examples of your work in the community, especially if you’re a service based provider. For instance, if you do lawn care in the suburbs, show off some of your before and after examples of an actual, local homeowner’s’ yard.  

Reviews

After the sale, keep up the rapport with your new client base and ask them if they’ll provide a review of your work. New customers are more likely to consider a service provider that can demonstrate their work through a testimonial.  Your customers can leave reviews on your Google My Business listing or store Facebook page as an example.

 

Photo credit: 123rf.com/rastudio

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Making your franchise more locally relevant

How To Make Your Multi-Location Business or Franchise More Local To Your Customers

9 in 10 Americans believe it is important for people to support the small businesses they value in their neighborhood.

What does that mean for multi-location businesses, franchises, dealer networks, etc? It means there continues to be a rising wave of buying local.

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Customers want to support their local business. They appreciate the service and local knowledge that accompanies doing business with them. So how can multi-locations compete and take advantage of this local opportunity when people view large corporations as nameless and faceless organizations only out to maximize profits?

Your brand name has a lot of power and can stand for great quality, but it also says dull, safe bet, non-customized service. Is there a way to combine the power of your brand with the personalization and enthusiasm people have for supporting local businesses? Of course there is. It’s all about local credibility.

Local Credibility

The most important thing you can do to change your image is to enhance your local credibility. Make yourself more local. Because most multi-location businesses are local. You are local. The store is often locally owned, their people are local, and when you call them you are dealing with a local store and not a call center. The only thing not local about the business is the brand.

Your people live in their communities, volunteer in their communities, and raise their kids there. They are as local as you get and generally utilize the corporate brand and processes to help them grow their businesses. Remember, though, when you tell your customer that you are local, they might be looking at you like the skeptical kid below. When they look at your website or business, they are looking you over to determine if you really are local. And the first hint of inauthenticity will have them jumping to the next site or store.

are you credible?

So, let’s ensure our customers know we are local and how we are local by looking at three great ways to remind your customer that you are local.

  1. Personify your location
  2. Show your community involvement
  3. Create and use local trust symbols

Personify Your Location

Show your people and share your stories. Don’t make your location faceless. The key to a local business is it feels like everyone knows your name and your story. They know that the store owner or manager went to the local state college and has three kids that go to school around the corner from the store. They might even know that you play slow pitch softball in the evenings, coach your kid’s little league team, and donate to the local food pantry. So the question becomes, how do you show this? One way is on the local store website’s About Us page.

About Us

About Us is one of the most visited pages on a site. There are several reasons for this:

  • Customers want to know what motivates you, such as why you got into this business.
  • Customers are looking for a way to know how long you have been around and if you can be trusted.
  • They want to see why they should buy from you over other businesses offering the same services.

Blogging

Another way to personify your business is to allow them to blog on their own or to save them time, posts blogs for them in their name. Then people who are reading the site or find it through search know who is running that local store.

Talk To Customers

The final way to personify your local store is to make sure your store managers are talking to their customers. And you don’t have to talk strictly business – be a friend. (But don’t go overboard, as you are there to earn business and not just talk about the weather). Make your store or in-home visits feel like the customer is a part of the community.

Bottom line, make it human and show photos of your people on your website that also tell their story. Do this, and the customer realizes you are part of their tribe and community, making them more likely to do business with you.

Show Your Community Involvement

What do your people do in the community? Do they sponsor events, do days of service, participate in parades? The more specific impact they have on the community, the better. So don’t just say they worked with United Way. Talk about the local division of United Way they worked with and what they did that impacted the local community.

Customers like seeing you a part of the community and there is no better way to be a part of the community than by serving it. You can even be involved through the way you sponsor community events. Whether it be the local parade, sponsoring community festivals, or creating a local meetup, you will be more local the more you get involved. This not only helps PR efforts, but it will help sales as well.

Local Trust Symbols

Create & Use Local Trust Symbols

A “local trust symbol” is similar to normal trust symbols except instead of only making your website trustworthy, they help consumers trust that you are a local business.

For online customers, there is nothing more important than local trust symbols to highlight that you aren’t just a national company with a local branch. Using local trust symbols online is easiest when you have a local website. If you don’t have a site for each local store, it can still be done, but isn’t quite as effective. Some local trust symbols are:

  • A locally relevant domain name, i.e. a domain that might be something like OurNameChicago.com.
  • A local address on every page of the site.
  • A local phone number on every page of the website.
  • Local photography that uses the imagery of your city.
  • Using local names, idioms, and other unique language to your local area. For example, mentioning Hoosiers on the site in Indiana or other local terminology.
  • Content that talks about your products or services in relation to the local market. Such as articles about getting ready for winter for a heating company in Boston or getting ready for summer for heating & air companies in Miami.
  • Pictures & video of your people on the website.
  • Local BBB & Yelp listing easily available on every page.
  • Angie’s List or other relevant service awards listed.

One of our local business clients has worked hard to build trust that they aren’t just some local reseller of national security services. They have found local trust symbols to be key to their business. They have their phone and address on every page. They even have a unique logo that shows how many years they have been serving the Indiana community. They also make it easy to see their BBB listing and even access their reviews on Angie’s List. On top of that, they have a video where the business owner talks about their service. And they talk about the Indianapolis area in their marketing and blogs.

At the end of the day, building local credibility will help ensure potential customers pick up the phone for your locations and not someone else’s. And building that credibility can be easier than you think, especially if you have built out a solution to make it easier for each location to take action. If you need help figuring that out, give us a call.

 

Photo credits: 123rf.com/talanis and 123rf.com/moodboard

 


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4 Considerations When Implementing Multi-Location PPC

Businesses with dozens or even thousands of locations have a unique paid search (PPC) challenge; how to efficiently execute a localized strategy. I’ve worked on many multi location PPC accounts that approached the issue of multiple locations in different ways, and while there are pros and cons to all account structure strategies, below are the main considerations that we, at Flint Analytics, take in to account when determining the best solution for each of our clients.

Billing

Adwords offers a few choices when it comes to billing: automatic payments, manual payments and invoicing. Depending on how many locations you intend to advertise for and how you intend to pay for each location’s spend will determine which option will fit your needs best.

I’ve worked on ppc accounts for huge, Fortune 500 companies that had little concern for individual store KPIs and instead were focused on regional and national performance as well as performance by service category (campaign group level). In this type of model, it was best to use one PPC account that rolls their media dollar spend up to one invoice at the corporate level where the marketing department received a monthly invoice for all locations.

Alternatively, I’ve also experienced companies that have individualized needs for each of their locations. For example, perhaps you have 100 franchise locations that all pay in to the same marketing pot and you need to be able to easily access individual store invoices. In this scenario, it may make more sense set up separate accounts for each store or region of shared stores that share an invoice. Each account can pay with a credit card as an automatic payment or set up monthly invoicing (if they meet Google’s invoicing requirements and pass the credit check).

The company’s need to keep track of their media spend will determine how you want to set up their Adwords account(s). This is something we hammer out with clients early on in the process so you set up everything correctly the first time.

Budget

Adwords made things easier for us when they rolled out the capability to share daily media budget across multiple campaigns. You can even set many separate daily budgets and share them across different campaigns. For instance, say you have 10 locations in a Midwest region that all share the same media budget. You could make a “Midwest Budget” and share it with only the Midwest stores’ campaigns. Then, say you have 20 stores in the Southern region. The same concept would apply; create a “Southern Budget” and apply it to only the campaigns that are targeted to your Southern region.

This technique makes it easier to provide many store campaigns with a chunk of daily budget and allows the AdWords system to allocate those dollars where they’re needed throughout the day. The major pro to this system is avoiding the task of manually allocating dollars across campaigns. That being said, there are also some cons to this setup. For one, if your daily budget is limited because you only have say $5,000 to spend per day but your keywords and geographies can spend $20,000 per day, AdWords won’t necessarily send the dollars to the top performing campaigns, but rather, to where those dollars can be spent.

Day-to-Day Management

Granular ad groups with relevant ad copy and corresponding landing pages are the backbone of PPC. When planning your account structure, it’s a good idea to think through how many ad groups, keywords and pieces of copy you’ll end up with and if you’ll be able to effectively manage the workload. If you’re managing 20 accounts under the same company, can you efficiently keep tabs on their performance and make bulk changes quickly if they’re all in separate accounts? Alternatively, if you don’t make your campaigns and ad groups granular enough, can you reap all the benefits of a localized structure or will you run the risk of appearing too general/national to capture a local audience?

Landing Pages

Businesses with multiple locations may struggle with PPC performance when they send all of their visitors to the same landing page or to a small batch of landing pages that aren’t localized. Users are more likely to convert when the landing page matches their search query and provides them with the content they’re looking for without having to dig in to your site to find it. We can take this concept one step further by providing a localized landing page that matches the user’s intended location or physical location.

As an example, let’s look at an appliance and electronics store that operates hundreds of locations across the United States. Let’s assume this location has three stores in the Indianapolis metro area. If you’re running a refrigerator sale at all nationwide locations, and someone in the Indy market searches for “GE profile refrigerators Indianapolis”, you’ll be able to appeal to that potential searcher by sending them not only to a GE refrigerator product page, but can take them one step further by showing them products available in their service area. On the landing page, that searcher is more likely to explore your offerings if they can see that there is an appliance store within a few miles of their home where they can go see the appliance in person after browsing on your site.

In addition, think of the other calls to action you can add to your landing pages to help improve the localized experience: discount coupons for their store, a trackable phone number if they want to call directly, your local address and store hours, relevant offers that may sweeten the deal (like free shipping and installation), an efficient e-commerce system if they’re ready to buy, etc.

Your multi location PPC strategy is made up of many components and PPC work is never really finished, but the key items highlighted above should help you get off on the right foot. Do you have any questions about how to improve your multi location PPC? Contact us here.

 

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/jagcz

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