The holiday season is behind us, but there’s no time for enterprise local businesses to rest on their laurels. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This year, our annual celebration of everything love and romance has some surprising opportunities in store for savvy local businesses and franchises.
Last year was record-setting in terms of Valentine’s Day shopping as U.S. consumers opened their wallets to the tune of $20.7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. You would expect florists to do well, and they did—Valentine’s Day is their top revenue holiday year-round.
Restaurants are another predictable Valentine’s Day winner and according to online reservation platform OpenTable and POS software company Toast, more than 30% of consumers will celebrate the holiday by dining out with their loved ones. It’s worth noting that in 2018, 50% of Valentine’s Day dining reservations were booked via mobile technology (Restaurant.org).
What you might not know is that Cupid’s arrow is increasingly driven through the hearts of pet owners, too. More than a third of Millennials have pets and last year, those between the ages of 25 to 34 spent an average of $12.70 each on their fur-babies. According to search engine Bing, singles are shopping, too. On average, single men spend $71 and single women spend $40 on Valentine’s Day.
When local searchers are looking for love, are you appearing in all the right places? Here are 7 ways you can make sure each of your locations is the most attractive option for customers looking locally to buy gifts, book a romantic meal, or find products and services to declare their love—whether for a partner, their pet, or themselves! Optimize your Valentine’s Day local search traffic today!
1. Use a Dynamic Locator to connect customers with local stores, dealers, service agents and more.
How can you connect motivated consumers on your corporate site with the location best able to meet their needs?
A Dynamic Locator combined with optimized Local Pages not only achieves this conversion goal but helps improve your search visibility in every local market, as well.
Keep in mind as you prepare for Valentine’s Day shoppers that 85% of all consumer engagements take place on a brand’s local pages. Yours must be accessible from the corporate site for those who already know they want to deal with your brand, and searchable at the local level for those looking for products and services like yours.
2. Capture searchers’ attention with engaging Google Posts.
Google Posts are an innovative yet underused content format available inside your Google My Business dashboard. In fact, just 17% of businesses have taken advantage of their ability to share Posts, which add valuable information and imagery to your business listing in search.
Google Posts allow you to share up to 1,500 characters with an image and a call-to-action button. Capture attention with actionable headlines and engaging images and video, then direct searchers to take action.
Use the various Post formats available to you to create Offers, showcase Products, promote in-store Events, and share What’s New at the local level. Multi-location brands can support your franchisees and local owners/managers with a slate of Posts created at corporate and distributed to brands in advance of the holiday to be posted on each location’s Google My Business.
3. Ensure all of your locations’ Valentine’s Day hours are listed correctly.
Provide a seamless experience for those calling to make reservations and walk-in traffic by ensuring local listings are correct and up to date. Make sure all other business data is complete and accurate—that menu URLs are correct, there are no duplicates that might drive customers to the wrong location, etc.
Remind local owners/managers and franchisees to post any special holiday hours to GMB, as well. For example, a location might decide to take part in a Moonlight Madness or other such promotions in their neighborhood by staying open later. Alternately, your restaurants in a particular city or state might decide to offer an earlier seating than usual.
There is any number of reasons your hours may change in different locations, especially on holidays like Valentine’s Day. What’s important is that each of your prospective customers has access to that information when they’re viewing your local listings and looking to visit in person. It could cost you a customer for life to have someone given directions to drive to a store that isn’t even open.
4. Have a plan and resources in place for engaging customers who review your locations.
Valentine’s can bring an influx of reviews for businesses like flower shops and restaurants. Are you in a position to engage and respond to your customers?
How you solicit and respond to reviews can impact not only how consumers perceive your business in future when they read those interactions, but also your local search visibility. Review volume and ratings are heavily weighted local search ranking factors.
Don’t have an enterprise-wide reviews strategy in place yet? It’s never too late to get started. Download our free e-book The Guide to Managing Local Reviews at Scale to get started.
You’ll also want to check out these 10 ways to make your reviews strategy more effective, and don’t forget to coach your local managers and owners in how to respond to negative reviews.
5. Support your local owners and managers with national campaigns they can give their own local spin.
How do you support your national brand at the local level?
Franchisees and local owners/managers are the best source of information about their location—what local events are happening, how weather or other local trends are impacting sales, how store hours should change for holidays, etc. It’s critical that they have the ability to publish this hyperlocal content about their location, but also that you have systems in place to protect your brand. This is especially challenging for enterprise brands to achieve at scale.
Take a national florist network, for example. Florists pay to be a part of the network and get leads through online marketing. There are several such businesses in the United States and around the world with thousands and even tens of thousands of independent flower shops in their network.
As you can imagine, it would be impossible to manage the special store hours of thousands of individual locations even once, let alone for every holiday. What’s more, the customers across those many locations have very different needs and varying expectations of the local content they expect to see from the stores they shop at.
Local Manager gives your franchisees and local managers/owners a single dashboard from which to manage key business information and author local content. You can assign user access levels and require permission-based publishing to ensure there are corporate controls built into your local content marketing. You can also easily deploy national campaigns with a specific local focus.
Integrated local search reporting means you have a high-level view of performance across hundreds or even thousands of locations, as well.
6. Track and evaluate your Valentine’s Day local search campaign ROI across the brand.
Again, everything that local businesses need to do becomes far more complicated and complex at scale. Whether your enterprise is a franchise, a chain of corporate locations, a massive network of service areas—or perhaps you’re the agency that serves a multi-location brand—measuring local performance at scale is probably one of your greatest challenges.
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, for example, has within its organization 100 resorts that offer luxury spa facilities and services. Now, we know for a fact that (thanks to Google’s research) that 70% of hotel searches on mobile devices are not for hotel brand names, but for specific types of amenities such as “hotel with an indoor pool,” or “hotel with a spa.” Searchers who are on the go and ready to book are looking for specific types of experiences.
Four Seasons and its agency-of-record developed a multi-faceted approach for more effective marketing to this specific subset of travelers in search of spa experiences.
What was really key to this entire campaign was that they could easily and quickly measure the results across all 100 locations. Corporate needed to be able to measure overall performance, but also drill down into specific locations to identify those in need of more support, and also those performing exceptionally well.
What’s more, they needed to measure not only the engagements happening on the website but interactions and conversions taking place across the local search ecosystem. They needed to know how many phone calls and requests for driving directions were being driven from each spa location’s GMB listing. They had to be able to attribute spa bookings accurately, whether they came through the website or a listing in organic search.
Local Reporting gave Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts that high-level view with the ability to get granular. It allowed the brand to see that across its 100 spa locations, requests for driving directions increased 150%, phone calls grew by 84%, and search-assisted revenue and bookings went up 30%. You can read more about their strategy here—just imagine what this level of insight could do for your brand.
7. Use Google Q&A to help prospective customers understand your Valentine’s Day offerings.
Q&A is another great feature within the Google My Business dashboard that isn’t used nearly as often as it should be. On each of your locations’ listings, searchers can see questions and answers that many use to guide their purchasing decisions.
Rio SEO Product Manager John Toth and GMB Gold Product Expert Krystal Taing recently shared their expertise and advice on this underused feature in a 20-minute webinar. In it, they shared the importance of responding to Q&A as well as innovative ways you can manage a high volume of Q&A at scale. You can also use Google Q&A to mine for common themes across locations and create content to proactively address those consumer needs in Google Posts, on your Local Landing Pages, and in blog posts.
It’s important that brands develop a strategy to manage Q&A at scale, as other searchers have the ability to answer questions. If they are responding with incorrect information and there’s no response to counter it by the brand or the location, that misinformation stands out for all of your prospective customers to see.
Get Your Brand Valentine’s Day-Ready, from Search to Sale
Is your brand positioned to show your local love to searchers in all of your markets? It’s not too late to get started—take advantage of a free local audit today to see where your greatest local opportunities lie.
You also won’t want to miss upcoming webinars and real-world digital marketing events designed specifically to address the needs of multi-location brands like yours. See what’s happening here.
Of course, if you still have questions our local search experts are here to help. Get in touch with the Rio SEO team today.