Did the COVID-19 health crisis speed up the death of brick and mortar businesses? Is the rate of digitalization increasing due to recent lockdowns? While the answer to both of those questions is yes, the fact still remains that the majority of sales still occur in store. It’s tempting to get excited about the power of digital marketing and ecommerce in terms of scope, but for a truly successful strategy, marketers with physical locations must not forget the importance of multi-location marketing. What Is Multi-location Marketing? Multi-location marketing refers to the type of marketing used by companies with local branches or franchises throughout the country. By incorporating location-specific marketing tactics to drive traffic to their nearby stores, companies can greatly increase their revenue. Top brands who utilize localized marketing campaigns grow their sales three times faster on average than their competitors, according to recent studies. In this article we will discuss the importance of multi-location marketing, how to take the first steps towards a multi-location marketing campaign and which platforms are best for your strategy. Multi-location Based Marketing Knowing the location of your potential buyers at any moment is important due to the rise of mobile phone usage for internet browsing. Most search engines emphasize local results due to this recent development, and the fact that local search results consistently convert more sales. Whether you are reading this article as a franchisee, local owner or corporate employee, it’s important to make sure that any multi location marketing campaign you conduct is a team effort. Corporate branding guidelines are important to follow, but there is a way to stay on-brand while also personalizing marketing for your local store. Knowing your regional buyer and their needs and pain points, and incorporating aspects of local life such as seasonal marketing, local events, landmarks and sports teams in your marketing message can pay off hugely. It’s also essential to be on top of protecting your online reputation, especially when it comes to service received at local branches. With so many people working remotely now due to social distancing, the dependence on mobile phones and geolocation services is at an all-time high. For example, which restaurant or store someone decides to go to depends largely on how the business shows up on their search engine or social media feed. Mobile phone users expect that when they Google “Thai food” they will immediately be presented with all the closest restaurant options, details regarding the menu, their reviews and corresponding stars. Amplifying Your Digital Presence, Locally Doing everything you can to amplify your digital presence as much as possible should be one of your top priorities. Start with ensuring that your website is visually appealing and easy-to-navigate. Assuming you’re not a web developer yourself, you’ll need to hire a developer who can create your site for you. Be strategic about the developer you hire, because most developers working today are relatively inexperienced according to recent statistics. Also make sure that your site is up-to-date with major trends such as relying on gradients, user triggered animations, and 3D elements as much as possible. Furthermore, investing in having your website redesigned to make it more visually attractive is not a terribly expensive investment either, and skilled designers on average will only charge between $20 to $45 an hour depending upon their experience. When you consider Another strategy to amplify your digital presence is by understanding the power of online reviews. There are some amazing online platforms that focus on review management only and are helpful for making sure that your digital reputation remains squeaky clean. Local businesses that have a lot of corresponding keywords in reviews will be prioritized in search engine results. For example, if you’re a hardware store and someone is searching for a nearby business where they can buy wrenches, if a review included the word “wrench” it would help boost your online visibility. The amount of reviews your business has (in terms of average yearly reviews) also helps bump your business up. It’s very important to encourage customers that are happy with your services to take the time to leave a review on Yelp, Facebook or Google before they leave your store. Studies show that 47% of people would not consider going to a business with a less than 4 star review, so capitalizing off of your best experiences with customers is crucial. Another factor that affects your digital presence is your response to critical reviews. It’s vital that businesses give their operational and customer service teams the tools to respond proactively and tactfully to all negative reviews. Businesses that consistently don’t respond to negative reviews receive a lower ranking, as well as businesses with less “likes”. Find the Right Platform What is the best platform to use for your location-based marketing strategy: social media or search engines? The answer to that is all of them. Interestingly, both social media and search engines have been blurring the lines recently. Google My Business allows businesses to interact with users via posts and question & answer features. Facebook is working towards creating more search features within its platform. Shoppers can now search through Facebook ads to find the right business for what they are looking for. Whether you focus on Facebook or Google ads largely depends on your demographic, but it’s important to interact with potential buyers as much as possible on both search engines and social media. For scale, search engines such as Google are optimal. For useability and hyper-focused marketing targets, Facebook and other social media platforms always win. Either way, you must be committed to responding to site-specific comments and reviews in order to boost your standing on the search engines. Furthermore, always make sure your pages or ads are geofenced to make sure that they reach the relevant local audience. You also should not discount the value of email marketing either, which can be up to seven times more effective than using all social media outlets together. Location-based email marketing in particular is very effective because it means you can deliver incentives to customers at the right time and place. For instance, you can create reward programs for loyal customers and then promote them via email, which also allows you to cross-promote other products you offer based on where the customer is located geographically. Conclusion Consumers are buying more things online, but these digital behaviors don’t necessarily mean that in-store purchases are going away soon. Most in-store purchases are influenced by research done online, so it’s important for local businesses to care just as much about their digital reputation as their local reputation. As the internet changed the world, consumer behaviour increasingly reiterated the importance of businesses having websites. In 2021, consumer needs have evolved. Now, it’s expected that any local business looking to compete must provide a potential buyer with relevant information regarding their location, product availability and local reviews.