Looking to drive local review? It’s getting more and more challenging for brands to ensure they’re being found online in the moments that matter. Increased competition, exploding mobile media consumption and evolving consumer preferences are among the factors driving the need for local marketers to connect on a more meaningful level with their local consumers.
In a recent webinar hosted by Total Retail, experts from Rio SEO, Bazaarvoice and Boston Retail Partners explored the evolving local ecosystem. They also shared their best tips for brands looking to improve their SEO performance, increase search traffic and drive conversions using the power of Consumer Generated Content (CGC).
After a brief round of introductions by Joe Keenan, Executive Editor at Total Retail, the group jumped right into a discussion on how retail in general in changing.
Todd Werden – Vice President, Boston Retail Partners
“You can’t build monolithic systems and processes to do things a certain way and say that’s it, I’m done,” he began. The linear funnel is gone. Marketers must acknowledge that customers will enter and exit the experience at their will.
60% of consumers today look online before making an in-store purchase. And most people aren’t interacting with brands in only one channel. Your site visitor on Monday might be your in-store customer Tuesday, then your competitor’s customer on Thursday.
Customers have access to information outside of our control and sphere of influence, so instead of trying to control the message, you’re better off learning about those pathways and meeting customers where they are in that ecosystem, Werden explained.
In that spirit, how can marketers improve the customer experience? Werden shared tips from Boston Retail Partners on how to drive local revenue based on the results of studies the organization has done.
Tips to drive local revenue:
- Deliver a seamless, holistic experience that builds customer loyalty.
- Understand that the customer research path is nonlinear; focus on both traditional and nontraditional tools for product research and embrace this element as having a strong correlation to positive customer experiences.
- Use social media to both deliver information and maintain an interactive dialog with customers.
- Provide a sense of community and ways to interact with the brand in social channels.
- Efficiently, effectively and completely answer customer concerns through e-commerce site offerings like FAQs, order history, order status, and user reviews.
Improving the customer experience is clearly a priority. Moreover, the ways in which we’re able to do that are changing. Solving today’s problem is one issue, but brands have had to become more flexible as the pace at which e-commerce and marketing technologies has rapidly picked up speed. Customer service will continue to become more circular and interactive. The challenges brands face include not only keeping up but exceeding expectations in such an environment.
Trey Simonton – Global Accounts Director, Bazaarvoice
Optimized correctly, CGC is an important driver in SEO. E-commerce sites were traditionally set up as places to interact with consumers who were only searching online, Simonton noted. Marketing content typically filled produce pages: specs, product details, pricing and shipping information, etc.
However, a generation of smart marketers have catered to the quite large and influential group of consumers who want to talk about products. Now, less than 10% of the best product pages are marketing copy and much of the difference is being made up with compelling consumer generated content by way of images, videos and reviews.
Leveraging this CGC allows brands to hook people who are searching online and draw them to product pages, thanks to Bing and Google’s propensity for displaying multimedia content. When consumer-generated content includes proper tags and optimization, it drives search traffic. Moreover, when the product page answers their need, conversion skyrockets.
Further, adding reviews to category pages as well as product pages sends those positive signals around fresh content to search engines. Social images pulled into category pages shows consumers — especially millennials and younger consumers — that people just like them use these products.
To capitalize on this trend, Bazaarvoice recommends that marketers do the following:
- Use CGC to own category-type searches.
- Understand how consumers are being influenced online and how that influences their offline purchasing behavior.
- Combat showrooming with tactics like in-store service promotion. Rather than spending millions promoting those services, Best Buy had consumers talk online about them, instead, Simonton said.
- Use search features like rich snippets to be more visible in local search results.
- Stay focused on the authenticity of consumer conversations, to build trust and win loyalty.
Warren Raisch – Chief Customer Officer, Rio SEO
Google now processes over 40,000 queries per second, and over 30% of these have local intent! Consumers are increasingly turning to search in their moments of need, and businesses need to be there. Their commercial intent is great; 82% of local searchers are ready to call or visit a store within 24 hours, and 61% make a purchase.
Connecting with the people close by is critical, especially knowing that 75% of consumer spending happens within 15 miles of a shoppers’ front door.
But yesterday’s local SEO tools tactics aren’t enough anymore.
Mobile has taken over desktop for search query volume, making mobile-ready sites critically important if businesses want to increase search engine visibility. Further, customer service suffers if, once they find the business online, the experience isn’t optimized for mobile.
This is true across verticals, as well:
Rio SEO and Bazaarvoice’s integration is working to enhance that last mile of marketing for local marketers. Offer consumers rich, interactive experience with reviews, images, video and other CGC. Displaying them with accurate, current information on local pages is enabling marketing to turn consumer/brand conversations into conversions.
Rich landing page experiences might include store locators, local coupons, product & service spotlights, social curation and more.
Ultimately, the challenges brands now face include:
- Increase authenticity in their online customer engagement.
- Give search engines fresh, properly optimized content to consider for local queries.
- Differentiate their brand and offerings from competitors online and in their local areas.
- Optimize local landing page experiences for interactivity and local relevance.
Marketers equipped to make the most of consumer generated content are enjoying unprecedented results: