local holiday shopping and Online Consumer Engagement

Besides it being the busiest shopping season of the year, there’s plenty of reason to get excited about the upcoming holidays. We’re talking about more than what’s in your stocking! Major updates and new features in local search are giving multi-location brands not only greater insight into online consumer engagement, but a myriad ways to delight them at various points in their purchasing journeys.

Already, digital interactions influence 56 cents of every dollar spent in brick-and-mortar stores (Deloitte). But your online work is never done; in fact,  60% of consumers use their mobile phones to look for product and pricing information even while they’re already in a store.

Mobile S

You’re never too late to capitalize on the local search opportunity with a robust online presence—and it’s never too late to lose that sale to a competitor if your discoverability leaves something to be desired.

There’s much at stake in the coming months, on the back of what was a $691.1 billion retail holiday season in 2017. Is your brand positioned to dominate in local markets throughout November and December?

Here are some tips to help make sure your brand’s local strategy is on point:

Highlight in-store events to help drive foot traffic from online consumer engagement

Local Pages do more than improve your local search visibility with rich and dynamic, properly marked up location information. They give searchers a one-click destination for local store hours and directions, product availability, photos and video, customer reviews and more.

Make sure you add your local events and promotions to your Local Pages as well, to give consumers more opportunities to engage and interact. Add schema markup to your on-site Event Pages, for enhanced visibility in the SERPs.

Get even more mileage out of your in-store events by using AMP pages to promote them. They’re designed to load lightning-fast and increase your chances of having your event appear in a searcher’s mobile carousel.

You can use Google Posts to expand the reach of your events and sales, as well. Creating a Google Post with an image or video plus descriptive text and a CTA linking back to your Local Page will help your event appear in your Knowledge Panel in search, and in branded Map Pack results.

google posts as part of Online Consumer Engagement strategy

You can then link to your Google Posts from other social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, for example, effectively repurposing this content and making the most of your investment in its creation.

For more on using this innovative post format to maximize your brand’s search engine visibility in local markets, be sure to read our Google Posts Playbook. It’s just been updated and relaunched.

Optimize your local listings for holiday searchers.

Updating store hours to reflect holiday hours of operation is a massive undertaking for multi-location brands. It’s critical, though—there’s no point sending consumers to closed locations. Our new Hours dashboard makes managing special hours across locations a snap:

hours manager rio seo

Local listings management is more important than ever in the months leading to the holidays. Resolve duplicate listings or errors in advance. Ensure all location listings are as accurate, up to date and complete as possible across the local search ecosystem.

It’s part of ensuring a great customer experience and eliminating roadblocks on the customer journey from search to sale, and serves to build your brand’s trust with the search engines, as well.

Resolving any potential location data errors is especially important for your locations in malls, shopping centers and other types of structures that house multiple businesses. You can learn more about the Mall Directory tab in Google My Business and its potential impacts on your locations here.

Moreover, hospitality and service-based businesses will want to highlight seasonal promos and services using additional links and the menu option in Google My Business, as well.

Be sure to optimize your listings with location-specific images and video, as well. Images can be an important discovery tool, whether consumers are actually using Image Search or (more likely) seeing images appear in the carousel in the SERPs. For best results, choose clear, focused, high quality images with local context. These help searchers get a feel for what they might find in and around that physical location.

Focus on reputation management as an integral part of your marketing strategy

Is reputation management mostly a reactive activity? If your brand’s approach to protecting its reputation means responding to reviews, you’re missing a massive opportunity to use those reviews in your marketing.

Get proactive by preparing your in-store staff to get great reviews from in-store traffic. Make it easy for customers to interact with your brand online and leave feedback. Then, embed those reviews in the relevant Local Pages.

Rather than hoping customers seek out that social validation as they consider a visit to your store, you can position it front and center. Make it an integral part of their local landing page experience. Everything they need to make their decision is right there.

Stay on top of each location’s Q&As, too. These questions and answers appear prominently on your Knowledge Panel and can be a great source of insight, as well. They can tell you about a specific issue customers are having at a critical point in the purchasing journey, for example. There’s no way to automate Q&A yet, but reach out to your Account Director if you’re looking for assistance in managing this across multiple locations.

These activities can help you seal the deal on holiday sales. More importantly, they have lasting benefits to build your business all year round, as well.

Make the best use of online consumer engagement to ensure the best offline, in-store experiences

This holiday season, it’s all about ensuring that we’re driving a great in-store user experience. Your Knowledge Panel in the search results is among your most important online real estate; take advantage of all of the fields you can control within the Google My Business user interface.

Your Knowledge Panel in the search results is among your most important online real estate.

When consumers see you online, you want them excited to visit your store. What’s more, accessing your stores—whether via accurate driving directions, holiday hours,  etc.—should be as seamless as possible.

Still have questions? Reach out to your Account Director or contact us; we’re happy to help.

Don’t miss these additional resources on online consumer engagement: