With the right approach, multi-location businesses such as retailers and franchise organizations have the opportunity to achieve exceptional digital results. Multi-location companies are essentially a collection of local businesses, which enables them to simultaneously compete both at a national (or regional) level and at a local level, which gives them an inherent advantage when it comes to digital marketing.
The Best of National and Local
One of the major benefits of a multi-location business such as a franchise, retailer or food service company is the ability to create brand recognition on a regional or national scale. A recognized national/regional brand immediately grants credibility to a business, which is particularly important as new locations are opened. A strong brand can allow a new location to quickly grow sales and out-perform smaller competitors with lower brand recognition and affinity.
At the same time, gaining marketing traction and awareness at a local level is critical because that is where the company’s customers are, and it is typically where the competition is most fierce. A well-developed local strategy helps each individual store succeed within their market, which in turn strengthens online visibility and results for the brand overall.
Own Local with Social
On average, Canadians spend almost 2 hours per day on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok. There is no shortage of content on these platforms, which makes it incredibly hard for businesses to stand out. This is where multi-location businesses have a major advantage over both “single location” and “non-local” competitors.
Because multi-location companies have a physical presence in their communities, they are able to disseminate content and advertising via local channels and with specific local terminology, which helps them break through the clutter. As illustrated in the below example, social posts and ads can be syndicated out via local social media profiles and the content can include relevant geographic information.
The reason is this is effective is because it significantly increases the relevance of the content to the person receiving it. As they are scrolling through their social media feed, posts and ads with local references will stand out, which generates engagement and action. With the right targeting, you can also decrease the cost of your advertising, as you can focus your efforts on just people who are interested in your products and services in geographies where you operate.
The key steps to creating a local social campaign are as follows:
- Create local social handles where appropriate (this approach works well on Facebook and Instagram, but is less effective on some other platforms). Facebook’s Locations framework is very helpful to help manage your local pages.
- Create a campaign for each location.
- Include local terminology in each ad, as appropriate (i.e. city, neighborhood).
- Geotarget each campaign around each store.
- Apply custom, lookalike, demographic and/or interest targeting.
In our experience, pursuing a local approach on social media increases engagement and clicks 2–3 times, while also decreasing costs by as much as 50%.
Local Searches Generate Sales
When someone is searching online for a specific product or service, it is a clear indication that they are looking to make a purchase in the near future, which makes ranking for pertinent Google searches absolutely crucial to most businesses. Nearly half (46%) of all Google searches consist of users seeking local information – meaning that their search includes a local term or has local intent. According to Google, 76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a physical place within 24 hours and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.
This is where companies with multiple physical locations have a tremendous advantage, both in terms of organic search rankings and paid advertising. Because the person is searching for a local product or service, Google ranks companies who have an address in that area, or who buy advertising specifically for that area.
This means that multi-location companies should construct their websites with as much local information as possible, but as a bare minimum they should include a location page for every store which includes the address, hours of operation and other basic information.
From an advertising perspective, a retailer or franchise system should create localized campaigns for each store which include local terms (i.e. city, neighborhood) in the company’s bidding strategy and in the ad copy itself. The local campaign should be geotargeted only to the area where that specific store operates, and bids should be independently managed based on the level of competition in that market. The cost for specific keywords can vary significantly from one geography to the next, so if you are not managing your spending by market you are almost certainly over-paying in some areas.
Because Google is looking to give the best possible result for every query, when someone conducts a local search, pursuing an approach as outlined above has multiple effects:
- Your ads are shown more frequently because you are actively bidding on the local terms.
- The click-through-rate (CTR) on your ads is much higher.
- The cost of your ads is often lower.
In short, pursuing a localized strategy means that your ads tend to perform much better. This is due to the fact that Google’s algorithm is prioritizing your ads because they are aligned with the person’s local search query, and because including local terminology in your ads increases the relevance to the person and therefore generates higher engagement and more clicks.
Increase Conversions With Localized Landing Pages
The final piece of the puzzle is to close the deal with the prospective customer. This means that after they have clicked on an ad, we want them to make an online purchase or contact/visit their local store (which we would call a “conversion”). The key to increasing the likelihood of conversion is to make is as easy as possible for that person to complete their transaction or make their buying decision.
How often have you clicked on an ad and then found yourself at the company’s homepage or store locator? You then need to hunt around to find the product, service or location you were looking for in the first place. This approach creates frustration for the customer which leads to abandonment.
Instead, make it as easy as possible for that person to do business with you. Ideally, when they click a social, search or other digital ad they should be directed to a page which has the exact product or service they were looking for and is specific to the area where they live. Make it as easy as possible for them to complete their activity, which means having a form, phone number or “buy” button front and center
The End Result
Having worked with hundreds of multi-location businesses, we have seen how effective a localized strategy can be. It allows companies to simultaneously beat their competitors both locally and nationally in terms of social media visibility and search rankings to grow their business.
In our experience, a local digital strategy outperforms a traditional digital approach by 5-10 times. This is due to a combination of lower cost and higher conversion creating a “multiplier effect”.