Updated: Jan 28, 2020
Multi-location businesses need multi-faceted marketing if they are to succeed. Your customers are literally everywhere, not only physically but digitally. While being easy to find in search is important, so are your investments in social media, paid advertising and other online marketing channels.
Here’s how you can get the right multi-location marketing mix.
Definitely Start With Local SEO
Whatever type of multi-location business you run, it is imperative that you dedicate time and resources to local SEO. Almost half of all Google searches have local intent, writes The Hoth’s Clayton Johnson. “In other words, if you don’t already have local SEO setup for the multiple locations of your business, you are missing out on massive traffic and sales.”
Copywriter and marketer Marc Schenker says local SEO is critical for businesses that operate regionally, especially if they have brick-and-mortar storefronts. “Optimizing your local SEO means more website traffic, leads, and conversions since the strategy is more relevant to your base of local customers. Think of this focused strategy as a way to help you compete more effectively against larger national brands that have unlimited resources to spend.”
Leverage Local Paid Advertising Campaigns
Though you may only serve customers in specific areas, online advertising shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Localizing Google PPC ads can be incredibly powerful for two reasons, writes SEMrush’s Daria Voronina. First, the ad can be tailored to customers in specific areas. It will be more likely to grab their attention and lead to higher click-through rates as a result. Maybe there are terms that you customers in Missouri understand that customers in Florida won’t, for instance.
Second, the more your ad appeals to your customers, the better Google will rate it. A higher-quality score can result in a better ROI.
For retailers, Google Shopping can also be localized. In fact, Google Local Inventory Ads are a great way for brick-and-mortar retailers to compete with national brands and eCommerce-only stores, writes GoDataFeed’s Nicole Santoro.
When a customer needs to pick up an item quickly and can’t wait for online delivery, Google Local Inventory offers them a way to quickly find what they are looking for in one of your retail outlets. Once they click on the ad, they’ll be directed straight to you.
You shouldn’t just be targeting customers who haven’t visited your website yet, however. You should also be targeting the ones who have. Local search expert Carrie Hill notes this is a highly valuable but underused tactic for multi-location businesses.
Retargeting customers who have visited your site already starts by placing Facebook Pixels or Google Audience Tags on each location page of your website. Doing so will allow you to show specific, location-related display ads to these users on Facebook or through Google’s Ad network. These ads can be both cheap and profitable methods of reaching out to warm leads.
Invest in Social Media
For multi-location business, it is important that every store, outlet or franchise be able to plant roots in the community. Few channels are better for doing so than social media, notes F5 Network’s Kristy Morrison.
“Perhaps the greatest value of social media marketing is your ability to foster and engage with a community of other people,” Morrison writes. “That engagement is at the heart of social media, and without it, you’re left with a megaphone and no one to hear you.”
Social is still a fantastic channel for growing a business, consultant Shane Barker writes. “30% of millennials engage with brands on social media at least once a month and 60% of baby boomers look for promotions on it.”
Don’t neglect social advertising, either, says HubSpot’s Clifford Chi. Organic reach isn’t reliable on social platforms, so social ads are the quickest and easiest way to reach your audience. Facebook should be your focus here.
“Facebook boasts the largest and most engaged user base out of all the social media platforms,” Chi says. “And to effectively monetize their audience, they’ve built the best targeting tools and the most cost-effective ads for advertisers.”
Don’t Forget About Your Website
While focusing on different digital marketing channels, it can be easy to forget about your business’ website. But your website is the foundation of your online presence. It’s no good investing time and money into digital marketing if you haven’t got the foundation in place.
Putting these fundamentals in place is essential if you want to convert visitors into customers. In particular, you need to make sure that your website is well-designed and accessible.
“That means making sure that your website is optimized for mobile visitors, as 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile‐friendly site,” writes Ahref’s Joshua Hardwick.
And for franchises, don’t let franchisees set up their own website domains. Keep everything on one single domain to ensure brand continuity, increase your website’s authority and improve the customer experience.
It’s Time to Think Multi-Channel
Local businesses no longer have an excuse for avoiding a multi-channel strategy, says Retail Minded’s Nicole Reyhle. “Having a website that’s search optimized, being on social media that you actually engage with and incorporating email into your marketing strategy may seem like a hefty load to carry, but the reality is it is almost too easy for small businesses to do nowadays.” Automated tools and analytics make it quick and easy to manage, update and track all of your channels.
What’s more, your customers could be anywhere online, marketer Meghan Marrs writes. Wherever they are, that’s where you need to be. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for any new channels that could become instrumental in future marketing campaigns, she adds.
Creating a multi-channel strategy for multi-location businesses isn’t easy. If it were, every chain and franchise would have an incredible online presence. So, take it one step at a time, start with local SEO and progress from there. You’ll be a multi-channel champion in no time.
Hub Shout Contributor Jeffery Shipman adds:
The first thing I would do for a multi-location business is signing up with a service like Yext where you can easily update your directories. Having a consistent name, address, phone number (NAP) is going to be a part of your Google ranking factors. After you do this, it's time to start a link building program. Links still matter in 2020.
Let me know what you think.