Holiday marketing presents a number of additional considerations this year, one of the most impactful and challenging to navigate being COVID-19. This year may also prompt an early start to the shopping season with only 50 days between Prime Day and Cyber Week. Logistical challenges, particularly around the pressure on last-mile capacity as more consumers purchase online this season, promise to keep retailers on their toes, as well.
The Coronavirus pandemic has transformed markets worldwide in myriad ways, and while no one knows quite what to expect for the holiday shopping season, it’s crucial to prepare for the recent shifts in consumer behavior. Let’s take a look at what we do know; these insights can help inform your enterprise local holiday marketing search strategy, come what may.
1. Consumers in need of local retail information are overwhelmingly turning to search.
Our analysis of local search data across 71,966 business locations spanning 78 enterprise brands shows that local retail search activity increased dramatically from early May to late August. Specifically, Rio SEO found that in the retail brands are experiencing the following notable upticks in local search:
More than ever, enterprise brands must have a solid enterprise local holiday marketing strategy in place to prepare for and thrive in this upcoming holiday season.
2. Local customers are looking for options to order online and pick up in-store or curbside.
Google searches for BOPIS/buy online pick up in-store and contactless payment are among trending local marketing keywords, and we don’t anticipate that will change for the holidays. In fact, Salesforce predicts that stores with pickup options (such as curbside, inside, drive-through) will see 90% more digital sales than last holiday season.
Make sure these socially-distanced options are clear on your local listings as well as in the copy on your local pages. As much as consumer behavior has changed due to COVID-19, best practices for optimizing your GMB profile haven’t changed.
This year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has released even more attributes to better highlight unique services you may be offering. With new attributes specific to retail and social distancing available to instantly answer common consumer questions such as, “Does this location have curbside pickup?” and “What safety measures are in place?”, there’s no better time than now to put these attributes in place across all your listings. Learn how to put these attributes to work in this post.
3. The Coronavirus dramatically accelerated e-commerce adoption by +71% over 2019.
In-store browsing has become an exercise in patience for many and may not offer the same leisurely experience as before. In many regions change rooms and washrooms are unavailable, store capacity is limited, and in-store requirements such as mask-wearing and distancing while waiting to checkout are increasing stress and anxiety.
Already, by Q2 this year global digital revenues had grown by an unprecedented 71% over the same period in 2019. Concerns over online privacy and data security gave way to fear and legitimate health and safety concerns as the country went into lockdown. For many, adopting e-commerce was not a choice but a necessity as essential supplies were not readily available in-store. Just how much of that behavior sticks through the holiday shopping season remains to be seen, yet appears to be heading that same direction.
To account for this, use the preferred URL for online ordering on local listings and local pages. Include language to quell consumer concerns over data privacy and e-commerce in your business description and page copy.
4. Prepare now for an early influx of online shoppers as 76% plan to get a head start.
All signs point to an early start to the shopping season as consumers worry that retailers may not be able to deliver on time. A summer survey by supply chain voice and analytics brand Voxware found that 51% of consumers expect to begin their holiday shopping early this year, with 76% indicating they plan to purchase more than half of their gifts online.
This is the time to get location information up-to-date, resolve any listings accuracy or ownership issues, and take control of your brand’s local online presence. Inaccurate listings can create poor customer experiences, reduce your local visibility, and erode consumer trust in your brand.
5. Position locations for discovery in unbranded search as 77% of Americans try new shopping methods, brands, and places.
Appearing high in the results for unbranded searches has become even more crucial as brand loyalty has plummeted. McKinsey research finds that more than 77% of US consumers have tried new shopping behaviors because of COVID-19—and they intend to stick to them.
Unbranded searches are those for the products and services you offer, versus your brand name. Localized content, properly optimized local pages, intentional link development and a properly optimized dynamic locator are all facets of a good local search strategy. See How to Maximize Unbranded Customer Searches for Your Multi-Location Business to learn more.
6. Plan to pivot quickly and act on emerging consumer trends.
While we cannot predict how consumer behavior may be affected by COVID-19 in the coming months, retailers can prepare now to act as opportunities arise. Tools like Google Trends and Rising Retail Categories can help highlight market-wide trends around consumer demand and buying preferences as they emerge.
Brands must get in position now to disseminate promotions, product and service information, new offerings, and other key information across the entire enterprise (or relevant segments of it) in as near to real-time as possible. Shoppers will be looking to local listings and location pages to find relevant offers, deals, and coupons to entice them to convert. They’ll be on the hunt for quick shipping options. Do you have the technology and resources to support local promotions at scale this holiday season? If not, now is the time to get it together in advance.
7. Adjust your keyword research to reflect the needs of more budget-conscious shoppers this holiday season.
More than one-third of Americans have experienced a decline in their income, savings, and spending due to COVID-19. It is no surprise then that 40% indicate that they are looking to save money in the lead-up to the holidays.
Use Google Posts to feature promotions more prominently on your business listings in search. Offers posts, in particular, offer extra visibility on your GMB local panel and can entice a searcher to click and convert.
Include value-adds such as free shipping, bonus with purchase offers, loyalty rewards, etc. on your Local Pages and listings.
Renew your industry-specific keyword research to ensure you understand what it is that matters most to your customers this holiday season.
Learn more to successfully execute your 2020 enterprise local holiday marketing strategy:
- Don’t miss our Building a Successful 2020 Holiday Local Marketing Strategy: Expert Panel webinar
- Download Optimizing GMB for Retail, the definitive guide to Google My Business listings for multi-location brands, for free
- Explore enterprise retail online presence solutions built for the unique needs of businesses like yours