Local and Mobile Converge in 2015

Forrester recently conducted a study that discusses how companies with multiple locations are applying local search to build their brands. As I read the many findings and recommendations I was struck by one inescapable conclusion: succeeding with local search means succeeding with mobile marketing…mobile success is synonymous with local.

According to the study, “Uncovering the Benefits of Local Search,” marketers from national brands are experiencing benefits such as brand awareness and better-quality leads by implementing comprehensive local marketing strategies. Brands have an opportunity to use local to embrace contextual marketing more effectively, but most won’t maximize this opportunity until they realize the interconnected relationship between local and mobile.

Why? Because your customers are already integrating local and mobile. The mobile savviness of your customers is one of two key factors to weigh when prioritizing the urgency of local marketing. According to the Forrester Local Opportunity Matrix, “If your firm has a large local footprint and an aggressively mobile audience, you are a firm they label as a ‘Mobile Local.’ Local is critical to your effort, and you should make local search a budget priority.”

As Forrester vice president and principal analyst Shar VanBoskirk said recently, “We find that the more mobile a customer is, the more demanding she is for customized, context-specific, location-specific marketing experiences.”

In fact, I would argue that audiences are becoming so aggressively mobile that the question is not if your audience is aggressively mobile but how aggressively mobile your audience is. Consider that three out of five consumers use a mobile phone to search for local businesses, and by 2016, mobile will overtake desktop for local searches. Need more convincing? Then understand that:

Moreover, activity from industry bellwethers points to an increasingly strong convergence of local and mobile. Google has collaborated with Uber to integrate Google Maps into the popular personal transportation service. Now, users of iOS or Android can order an Uber ride when they view walking directions in Google Maps because of a link placed in Google Maps. And Facebook launched App Links, which makes it possible for app developers to link to other apps (instead of linking content from mobile Web browsers to apps). The Facebook development makes it that much easier for providers of app content to link to mobile searches done on apps.

Then there’s the Ace Hardware brand, which has already been using location-based technology to drive mobile user traffic to more than 4,700 stores. The leaders don’t need to be sold on the synergies between mobile and local – they have moved from analysis to action.

To jumpstart local/mobile marketing efforts, brands should optimize location-specific content for desktop and mobile devices. But succeeding with local and mobile is not about creating random pop-up ads. Mobile/local success means being present where your customers are when they use mobile devices to search. Mobile/local means creating an optimized experience on a smartphone’s Google Maps app — or making sure that your Yelp listing is accurate when a customer uses a Yelp app to do some research on the fly. Don’t push. Pull.

To ensure that you capitalize on the synergies of mobile and local, make sure that your local strategy includes mobile and vice versa. Tie your integrated strategy to your customer acquisition and retention approach. The primary benefit of this strategy is acquiring and keeping your increasingly mobile-savvy customers. The brands that are closest to their customers will ultimately win, and local is a great way to create closer connections across search, social, and mobile.

Homepage image via localpositions.com.

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