COVID-19 dramatically accelerated the digital transformation across the globe as the majority of the workforce retreated to home offices and consumers relied more than ever on e-commerce to purchase everything from groceries to birthday gifts. And, McKinsey has found, this digital adoption is here to stay: “Fully 75 percent of consumers using digital channels for the first time indicate that they will continue to use them when things return to ‘normal.’”
However, another effect of the ongoing pandemic has been a renewed focus on community and on local businesses as customers have searched for safe, trustworthy sources of goods and services close to home. In a separate article, McKinsey notes that their ethnographic research has shown that “supporting familiar, local businesses has become important to many US communities, driven in part by greater confidence in their quality and safety.”
Businesses can take advantage of both of these trends — the embrace of digital and the support for local — to grow their customer bases by building trusted relationships through consistent, multichannel, personalized marketing campaigns. “This could include messages tailored to different neighborhoods and delivered through the newly established community networks,” suggests the McKinsey team, “or using their existing retail footprint to support local businesses, sponsor community centers, and host community events.”
Regardless of the details, these campaigns should be designed to assure nearby consumers of both the value and the safety — from online ordering and curbside pickup to capacity limits and cleaning regimens — their local outlets can provide.
Here are three digital marketing strategies to build strong local connections.
1. Digital Advertising
Multi-location brands would do well to tailor their paid advertising to each local market, establishing a community focus that helps customers understand specific policies and procedures at their nearest location. Local marketers can focus their digital advertising in three areas:
- Paid Search: Promote your location-specific offers and information by bidding on strategic keywords to drive visitors to your sites and stores.
- Ads: Dynamic display campaigns and social media advertisements can take advantage of geographic targeting to build awareness about your brand on a local level.
- Retargeting: Keep your brand top of mind by focusing advertising spend on local customers who have already shown an affinity for your brand.
2. Reputation & Social Media Management
If your national brand doesn’t already have separate social media accounts for each location or affiliate, now is the time. Consumers are turning more and more to social media for local information, including community-focused social media pages and forums, as well as accounts for their local stores. Affiliates’ Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts ought to be hubs for brand compliant, localized content designed to build relationships with the community and invite nearby customers to engage with the brand and the people behind it.
Additionally, consumers are turning to reviews on social media pages as well as other outlets like Yelp and Google for information about product and service quality, customer experience, and overall safety. That means that now is the time to step up reputation management efforts, monitor and respond to customer feedback and surveying customers to inspire additional positive reviews.
3. Microsites and Landing Pages
Often, the landing pages and microsites for retail locations or affiliates are woefully underused. Yes, they should include location addresses, hours, and phone numbers, but don’t stop there. Keep your microsites and landing pages updated with the latest local information that consumers can use to determine whether they feel comfortable patronizing your brand.
What safety precautions is your specific location taking? What ordering and pickup options are in place? What products are in stock — and when will out-of-stock products be back on shelves? What other local businesses are nearby that could help customers check off their entire to-do list in one outing? Consider including employee photos and bios — research shows that adding photos and video clips to websites builds familiarity and increases trust.
In short, anything you can do to turn your digital marketing initiatives — from advertisements to Instagram posts — into customer-centric resources will go a long way to ingratiating your brand with the local community. But remember, a truly successful marketing strategy spans multiple channels — both online and off — to reach your audience wherever they are.
Here at OneTouchPoint, we help brands and organizations marry form with function at the national and local level, with beautifully crafted marketing assets, a full suite of digital marketing capabilities, and managed marketing supply chain services. To learn more about how OneTouchPoint can help you deliver a flawless, localized brand experience, we invite you to contact us today or request a quote on your next project. Our experts will provide insight and ideas to deliver phenomenal results at a great price.