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May 22, 2015

Local and the City

By Julie Piatek

According to U.S. Census data, Americans and particularly millennials are increasingly moving to cities. More Americans are forgoing living in single-family homes with two-car garages for apartments in walkable, transit-friendly neighborhoods. This lifestyle change indicates that there is an increasing desire for mixed-use neighborhoods with a multitude of retail, dining, and entertainment options in walking distance. Brands have an opportunity to capture their share of resulting foot traffic, but only if they take steps to make themselves visible at the local level.

The Importance of Mobile

So how will urbanites pinpoint and decide where they want to spend their dollars locally? One thing’s for certain — their mobile phones will have an impact. Google “near me” searches increased by 34 times since 2011 with more than 80 percent of this activity coming from mobile. Millennials are said to place higher importance on their mobile phones than cars, which means they are using mobile search to find a store or service and using mobile maps, transit apps, and ridesharing services (Uber, Lyft, etc.) to get there.

The Opportunity for Brands

Brands are realizing that we are in era of urban revitalization, and a store located near a major transit hub may be more valuable than one in a suburban strip mall. However, they need to make sure they are being found when consumers are searching for them. Here are a few steps to make sure your brand is findable:

  • Make sure NAP (name, address, phone number, hours of operation) information is clean and accurate. According to SIM Partners CEO Jon Schepke, listing management is the required foundation for local SEO. If someone on foot calls a local business or walks to the physical location and the store is closed or relocated, that business has lost the “mobile moment” to its nearest competitor.
  • Optimize Google My Business for all locations, which is the most important way to make sure a location is found in both mobile search and in Google Maps. Taking this step will be instrumental for a brand to appear to searchers who are on the go.
  • Create hyper-local content for all locations. Multi-location enterprise brands that lack any connection with a community or neighborhood will lose out both in search engine optimization (SEO) and in local affinity.

If digital marketing and SEO are all about brands being found where consumers are, local marketing will only continue to grow in importance as people move to cities. A recently published Forrester Research report, “The Local Marketing Opportunity,” indicates that the time has never been better for brands to invest in local marketing, partly because advances in automation technology make it easier for businesses to scale their efforts across multiple locations. It stands to reason that the growth of major urban areas will strengthen the opportunity because of the attendant increase in foot traffic occurring in businesses located close together. The question is which brands will catch up with the mobile, urban lifestyle and which brands will be left behind.

May 20, 2015

The Apple Watch: It’s about the Customer, Not the Device

By Jon Schepke

You don’t need an Apple Watch strategy. But you do need to know how to integrate the Apple Watch into your current local marketing approach for engaging customers. My SIM Partners colleagues and I firmly believe the Apple Watch creates stronger opportunities for brands to engage locally with mobile consumers. The Apple Watch is clearly in its early stages, but we’ve experienced enough of its potential to know that the device is a game changer for wearables. My latest Advertising Age column counsels enterprises to capitalize on the Apple Watch — but to do so thoughtfully, by creating content appropriate for the context of the person who owns the watch. Don’t create offers for Apple Watch owners just because you can. Instead, develop compelling location-based offers that make sense in context of a customer journey that involves the Apple Watch. I invite you to read my column and let me know what you think of the Apple Watch and its potential for your enterprise.

“The Massive Opportunity” for Mobile Wallets: An Interview with Jack Philbin, CEO, Vibes

By Tari Haro

On May 13, SIM Partners and Vibes announced a groundbreaking relationship that capitalizes on the popularity of local search and the growth of mobile wallets. By integrating Vibes Mobile wallet campaigns with the SIM Partners Velocity local marketing platform, SIM Partners and Vibes are making it possible for national brands to create location-based and in-store offers to convert shoppers into buyers based on a customer’s search intent and proximity. Today Vibes CEO Jack Philbin talked with me about the convergence of mobile wallets, search, and consumer behavior. In the following interview, Jack provides some compelling reasons why we’re seeing a resurgence of consumer interest in using mobile wallets, and he shares some examples of large enterprises that are seeing strong ROI via mobile wallet offers. On June 11, Jack will provide more insight about the changing mobile experience at the annual SIM Partners SIMposium. Our conversation gives you a taste of what’s on his mind:

Tari Haro: Consumer mobile usage overtook the desktop in 2014, and smartphone adoption in the U.S. continues to surge. How does the strong increase in mobile activity actually change the way consumers and brands interact with each other?

Jack Philbin: For a number of reasons, consumers are shifting from desktop to mobile. And because they use mobile so entirely different than they do their desktop – desktop is for things that take hours, mobile for things that take minutes – the brand-to-consumer relationship has changed as well. It’s about enhancing what consumers are already doing on their phone. Making life simpler, quicker and seamless.

Our new partnership with the SIM Partners team is a great example of this. Together, we’re turning “near me/closest/nearby” searches on mobile phones into a savings opportunity for consumers and a revenue opportunity for retailers. For instance, when a consumer searches for “drug store near me” on their phone, a national drug store chain could display their location information in search results and offer the shopper an in-store coupon via Apple’s Passbook or Google Wallet. There was no opportunity to have such contextually relevant, valuable interactions like that on desktop.

That’s why mobile marketing with mobile wallet and location makes sense. Brands are enabling consumers, not distracting them, and they are doing it in a matter of seconds.

Tari Haro: Analysts and media are taking a close look at the popularity of mobile wallets, with Forrester Research recently issuing a major report discussing the future of mobile wallets. Why are we seeing a resurgence of interest in mobile wallets?

Jack Philbin: It’s largely due to Apple Pay. Paying with your phone (and now smart watch) has an undeniable cool and convenience factor. This has helped increase consumer awareness and usage of mobile wallets like Passbook (for iPhone users). At Vibes, we saw a 56 percent increase of Passbook installs from September–October 2014, coinciding with the launch of Apple Pay.

Interestingly, Google Wallet, the dominant mobile wallet for Android users, has seen its number of users almost double since the release of Apple Pay. A “rising tide carries all ships” is underway right now in the mobile wallet space. I like to say that what Apple Pay can do for mobile wallet is what “American Idol” did for text messaging.

Tari Haro: It looks like the topic of the mobile wallet has become a CMO-level conversation. How should CMOs think about the value of the mobile wallet?

Jack Philbin: Now that marketers are paying close attention to mobile payments, they need to realize that the marketing opportunity lies with mobile wallets. The true opportunity for CMOs in the mobile wallet space is on the non-payment side — storing and managing offers, coupons, and loyalty cards in Passbook and Google Wallet. And that value has a proven ability to generate eight-figure sales results. CMOs should view mobile wallet as a proven marketing channel for unlocking new revenue.

Tari Haro: What are Vibes’s customers doing to maximize the value of mobile wallets?

Jack Philbin: Pep Boys is one of our customers investing in mobile wallet marketing and seeing great results. All consumers can access mobile wallet coupons from PepBoys.com’s mobile site, and add any coupon (e.g., up to $20 off wheel alignment) to Passbook or Google Wallet.

Thirty percent of Pep Boys customers who save coupons to Passbook redeem them in-store. It shows how mobile wallet can seamlessly bridge offline and online marketing. Here’s a video we did with Pep Boys where its former CMO Ron Stoupa talks about the incredible results Pep Boys has seen with Vibes.

Men’s Wearhouse also has a robust mobile wallet marketing strategy. The retailer added a “Save to Wallet” option to its emails and saw a 10 times higher redemption rate from those emails versus those without the wallet feature.

Because of successful campaigns like that, it expects to see seven-figure sales results in 2015 from Passbook and Google Wallet.

In addition to Pep Boys and Men’s Wearhouse, we’re working with major brands like Old Navy, Gap, Chipotle, Home Depot, Sears, and more.

Tari Haro: What’s next for the future of mobile and search?

Jack Philbin: In 2015, consumers will move from rarely using mobile wallet apps like Passbook and Google Wallet to using them on a daily basis. The more consumers embrace mobile wallet, the more marketers cannot afford to bypass this massive opportunity. The Mobile wallet can be much more than just a place where payments are processed — it’s a place for brands to enhance the shopping experience and build valuable relationships. The mobile wallet and local search together create an essential layer of visibility, engagement, and scale for enterprises. Brands are just getting started tapping into the possibilities created by the convergence between mobile wallets and local search.

May 18, 2015

How Insurance Brands Can Acquire Customers with Paid and Organic Search

By Jill Linsenberg

Insurance keywords are the most expensive category in paid search. Most large insurance carriers spend significant marketing dollars competing for keywords via paid search because a new insurance customer represents a significant lifetime value. But insurance brands also have a big opportunity to integrate organic search into their marketing strategies. Each day, consumers conduct hundreds of thousands of searches on all different types of keywords and keyword phrases from “home insurance” to “insurance agent near me.” According to Google, recently there were over 20,000 searches in one month alone for the keyword “auto insurance” in the state of New York. Searches for non-branded terms all yield local organic results. And yet surprisingly, many large insurance carriers don’t take advantage of the opportunity to combine the high cost of paid search with a lower fixed costs of local organic search. Combining paid and organic search locally is the perfect opportunity to increase clicks, calls, and conversions, and to decrease the average cost per lead.

The Value of Paid and Organic Search

A brand can deliver a successful mix of both paid and local organic search that results in higher customer acquisition and growth rates. Both paid and organic have their advantages:

  • Local organic results convert two-to-three times higher than paid search. Organic results are considered to contain the most accurate information. An organic listing is a sign of trust by Google and other search engines to the searcher that the listing is legitimate.
  • Paid search is valuable because it allows a brand to target very specifically to those words and phrase that matter most to its business.

A study done for Adobe’s Digital Marketing Summit showed a “huge impact on conversion volume” with the presence of both paid and natural (SEO) search results. Marketers should use both pay-per-click and SEO tactics in order to get the most of their search marketing efforts.”

How Automation Can Help a Holistic Search Strategy

Brands looking to adopt a holistic (i.e., combined paid/organic) search strategy should implement an automated local search platform that is built to optimize local results for hundreds or thousands of locations. Using an automated platform can decrease the overall cost per lead generated. For example, a large international enterprise brand deployed the SIM Partners Velocity automation platform to generate qualified leads via a local search strategy that combined paid and organic. Within six months after deploying the holistic approach, the client reduced its blended cost per lead by greater than 50 percent.

SIM Partners CEO Jon Schepke recently commented on how a holistic approach to search can reduce a blended cost per lead. In his column for Search Engine Watch, “Converged Media Requires Converged Metrics,” he stresses how a holistic strategy delivers a dual benefit of attracting customers and reducing costs per lead. He views a holistic strategy as combining owned, earned, and paid media, and certainly the results he cites underscore the value of looking beyond paid search.

By allocating a portion of its current paid search budget to optimizing for local organic search, an enterprise brand can maintain the same digital marketing investment and to generate a substantially higher return on investment (ROI).

Delivering Better ROI

On May 27-29, I’ll be attending the LIMRA Marketing & Research Conference, and it will be interesting to see whether and how the event speakers and attendees touch upon this topic. I’ll certainly be road testing the concept of a holistic strategy at the event for good reason: organic search delivers the best ROI for local businesses delivering the most website traffic and phone calls. The formula for optimal success for large enterprise insurance brands that sell their products through local agencies is the combination of both paid and organic search. Learn how your organization can implement a blended search approach, gain better insight into local search results, and produce a higher return for the same budget using Velocity.

Giving Back: Green Star Movement

By Julie Piatek

In support of our core values, the SIM Partners Culture Club organizes a “Give Back” event in which members of our team volunteer at various organizations in the Chicagoland area. This quarter, our team had the pleasure of working with the Green Star Movement

The Green Star Movement is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that “inspires students and community members to design and realize public art.” Many Chicago residents most likely recognize the impact Green Star Movement has had designing murals for local schools, parks, and community centers. Since its founding in 2005, Green Star Movement has created murals and works of art at more than 45 public spaces, each taking four to six weeks to complete.

On Thursday, May 7, the SIM Partners team traveled to Horace Mann School in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago. Upon arriving we found a blank wall with a tracing of the soon-to-be completed mural. The Green Star Movement project managers gave us a quick lesson on how to install tiles and we got right to work. We were excited to have an opportunity to collaborate with students from Horace Mann on their mosaic’s — they were an inspiration to us all.

At the end of the day, we all learned that there’s a lot of hard work behind these beautiful murals. Similar to SIM Partners’ core values, Green Star emphasizes the importance of teamwork because a single project takes effort from organizers, students, and volunteers to complete. Our team was inspired by the community-based aspect of the art, as well as the opportunity to contribute the Horace Mann School, the community of Chatham, and the city of Chicago.

May 14, 2015

Local Marketing and the Everywhere Customer

By David Deal

Are you adapting your local search strategy to the everywhere customer?

Everywhere customers use multiple devices and channels to search for brands. They might learn about you from a television spot they’re watching on their iPads, then jump on their smartphones to conduct some product research while they will have their iPads open. On their mobile devices, they quickly synthesize information about you ranging from what you say about yourself to friends’ reviews before going to your store to do comparison shopping. Leading brands such as Disney are responding to the advent of everywhere customers by being present with the right experience for the right channel. To capture the attention of the everywhere customer, local search practitioners will need to think more like consumer insight professionals and understand how to create content that resonates throughout the entire customer journey.

Photo credit: NUS-ISS

It is important that businesses understand the impact of everywhere customers, whom I’ll be discussing at the SIM Partners SIMposium June 11 during a panel with SIM Partners CMO Tari Haro and Signal Senior Vice President of Marketing Joe Stanhope. On average, Americans own four digital devices, and people who interact across multiple devices or channels spend 15-30 percent more than their counterparts. As Tari Haro has noted, the uptake of mobile devices alone has rapidly accelerated the customer decision-making process. She urges brands to “own the ‘next moment’ of search, or the action that occurs after a consumer finds your business.”

Owning the next moment — or providing content that helps consumers complete a transaction after they have found your brand through a search — dovetails nicely with my two main recommendations for engaging with everywhere customers:

Understand Your Customer’s Journey

To be sure, brands need to own the “near me” moments of search, or the moments when consumers look for products and services nearby. According to Google, “near me” searches have doubled since 2014. But to maximize the impact of local search for everywhere customers, enterprise marketers need to own the entire customer journey. Doing so means that local search marketers need to think more holistically. You should:

  • Step back and understand the entire journey that your customers make from awareness to purchase in-store.
  • Ensure that your local search team is talking to your customer research and analytics teams to uncover the opportunities to own the next moment. For instance, where do most of your customers first learn about your brand? Where do they do most of their research?

The answers to those questions will inform where you want to invest your local search budget. A brand that requires high consideration and complex research (say, luxury goods or an expensive vacation destination such as Disney) may find that tablets and laptops are their bets for creating and owning the next moment.

Large enterprise brands are best suited to take the holistic view. They have the resources and budgets to do the customer research that your local marketing efforts will require.

Create Content for the “Next Moment”

For your brand to be found by everywhere customers, your basic data (such as name, address, and phone data) must be accurate. But search is also a deep content play. To guide everywhere customers along the journey, you need to share content that leads the customer from consideration to purchase — connecting those “next moments.” For instance, the Barnes & Noble website and mobile experience are designed for the reality that after finding a Barnes & Noble location, customers may want to order merchandise online, either via desktop or mobile devices, and either have items delivered to their homes or pick them up at a brick-and-mortar store. The merchant ensures that customers retain their choice of channel and context.

It’s also important to maximize the value of each channel. The Disney website serves up rich, multimedia content that is appropriate for spending longer periods of time exploring attractions, lodging, and dining options during vacation planning. The Disney smartphone app focuses on more tactical information that guests are searching for while they are at a Disney resort, such as the wait time for rides or the locations of nearest restrooms. The Disney MagicBand wearable helps customers conduct transactions, get access to their on-property lodging, and handle a host of other functions. Rather than leave it up to chance that consumers will figure out where to find the mobile app and MagicBand, Disney shares clear instructions on the website to help customers understand how to get the mobile app and MagicBand.

Embark on Your Own Journey

SIM Partners CEO Jon Schepke talks about local search marketing as a process of steps that a brand takes along an adoption curve. By the same token, responding to the everywhere customer means taking a journey of your own. You certainly don’t need to rethink your approach to local search, but you may want to reassess your local search goals (e.g., to focus on driving foot traffic or same-store sales) and broaden the composition of your search marketing team to include a strong partnership with your customer experience teams. As you better understand the complete context of the customer journey, you’ll be ready to not only optimize each brand experience but the next one as well.

May 13, 2015

The “Next Moment” of Local Search Gets Real with SIM Partners/Vibes Relationship

By Tari Haro

With mobile now officially taking over desktop search, the conversation about local search is changing.

And it’s about to change again.

Today SIM Partners and Vibes announced a relationship that weds the appeal of mobile wallet offers with the surging popularity of “near me” searches. By integrating Vibes Mobile wallet campaigns with the SIM Partners Velocity local marketing platform, SIM Partners and Vibes are making it possible for national brands to create location-based and in-store offers to convert shoppers into buyers based on a customer’s search intent and proximity.

The relationship is significant not only because it makes Velocity the first local marketing platform to get to the store via iBeacons; but also because we are making the “next moment” of local search a reality.

I recently defined the next moment of search as the action that occurs after a consumer finds your business when conducting a search. Owning the next moment is important, especially as searchers use mobile devices to find brands. According to Google:

  • “Near me” searches (i.e., for products and services in one’s immediate vicinity) have increased 34 times since 2011 and have nearly doubled in the last year alone.
  • Approximately 80 percent of Google’s “near me” queries came from mobile devices in the fourth quarter of 2014.

But consumers are doing more than search on mobile devices. They are also making decisions — quickly — during those searches. Half of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphones visit a store within 24 hours — and 18 percent of those searches result in purchases within a day. Nearly half of consumers trying to decide on a restaurant do their local search within an hour of actually going. They’re moving from awareness to consideration rapidly.

The SIM Partners/Vibes relationship accelerates consideration to purchase at the location level. As discussed in the press release, by integrating mobile wallet campaigns (including Apple Passbook offers supported by iBeacons) with the SIM Partners Velocity platform, we are giving enterprises with local storefronts the ability to give consumers offers when they are nearby as well as in-store. Once consumers save offers to their Apple Passbooks, they can receive helpful reminders when they are within 100 meters of a location, based on the latitude and longitude of the business. iBeacons can also be used for more precise notifications based on a customer’s proximity to — or position within — a location.

In today’s announcement, we give the example of a consumer who uses her mobile phone to search for “drug store near me.” A national drug store chain would use Velocity not only to display its location information in search results, but also to offer a discount coupon to be redeemed in-store via Apple Passbook or Google Wallet. Once the consumer is near or in the store, the retailer could offer more relevant content, such as a seasonal offer to create an incremental purchase or loyalty program information to encourage repeat transactions.

The appeal for a national brand with hundreds, or thousands, of locations, is threefold:

  • Convert more “near me” searches into revenue through appealing offers — going beyond the “Here’s where to find me” stage of local search to “Here’s a reason to visit us now.”
  • Build on the initial transaction by cross-selling while the customer is in the store.
  • Scale the revenue and the customer relationship.

The appeal for the consumer is compelling and simple: not only find what you are searching for, but also get rewarded for your search. According to Vibes, mobile wallet offers have a 64 percent higher conversion rate over static mobile Web coupons and a 26 percent increase in average order value (AOV) over static mobile Web offers. By tying mobile wallet offers closer to local search intent, we’re helping merchants convert more searches to revenue.

On June 11 in Chicago, Vibes CEO Jack Philbin will give more insight into the relationship between local search and mobile transactions during his appearance at the annual SIM Partners SIMposium. We look forward to exploring in more detail how Vibes and SIM Partners can help national brands win marketing’s next moment.

May 12, 2015

Create Great Content, Not Doorways

By Adam Dorfman

Google has been keeping webmasters busy lately. In February, Google announced an update designed to reward mobile-friendly sites in search results. In March, Google released the doorway page penalty algorithm, which, as the name implies, cracks down on pages that have been created solely to attract search traffic without providing any value to the searcher. The doorway algorithm update has created some concern among brands that operate multiple pages — for example, national retailers with multiple product pages and locations. My counsel: focus not on Google but on providing quality content, and your brand will be just fine.

I see the doorway update as an extension of the Panda algorithm, which targets thin content created for search engines and not for people. Unfortunately, Google’s definition of a doorway page is murky, which understandably creates some angst among webmasters and search engine strategists. As Home Depot search engine optimization manager Erin Everhart wrote recently in Search Engine Watch, “Even the five questions Google suggested to consider when determining if your page could be considered a doorway page didn’t help give much light to worrying webmasters. How does Google define ‘usable’ and ‘relevant’? If the page actually is an island and doesn’t have any internal links pointing to it, would it not rank in the first place?”

No wonder I have received calls from businesses asking whether their local content pages are “safe.” My advice always comes down to asking yourself one question: Why did you create a particular page of content? To serve a user or to serve a search engine? If you created a location page to serve a function such as providing information about your services, as well as name/address/location detail, then you need not worry that you are operating a doorway page. If you created the page to attract the attention of a search engine, then the page might be tagged as a doorway page and will suffer a penalty.

Yes, the lines can get blurry between legitimate content and doorway pages. A retailer that provides multiple pages for a single shoe line might be veering into doorway territory if the pages consist of thin content, such as the same shoe in different colors. Such a retailer would be wise to combine the product lines on one page for ease of reference or simply make it possible for the user to mix and match shoe colors and prices with the tap of a keyboard.

Google has been targeting thin content for some time. So the doorway algorithm should not come as a surprise. If you’ve been minding the usefulness of your content and focusing on the needs of your customers all along, Google will reward you. More importantly, your customers should be doing so already.

May 7, 2015

Three Ways Brands Can Turn “Near Me” Searches into Revenue

By David Deal

Mobile search has officially eclipsed desktop search. And mobile searchers are important to big brands like Macy’s and Walgreens that operate hundreds of thousands of locations: four out of five searches on a mobile device lead to purchase . But how do the large brands capture their share of those purchases? According to Jay Hawkinson of SIM Partners, optimizing your content for local/mobile searches is essential.

During a May 6 webinar, Hawkinson stressed that a local/mobile search strategy matters especially because 80 percent of consumer spending occurs within 15 miles of one’s home. And as Google recently reported, the vast majority of “near me” searches occur on mobile phones. Hawkinson shared some essential tips brands can convert “near me” searches to customers:

Be Present for the “Mobile Moment”

The mobile moment occurs when consumers use their mobile devices to search for products and services. Being present in the mobile moment means ensuring your local page displays content that consumers want. And we’re not talking about terribly sophisticated information, here: according to Hawkinson, the most popular information mobile searchers seek consists of hours of operation, followed by special offers and coupons, ratings/reviews, products and services, and the business website URL.

Sounds easy, right? Well, how often have you looked on Google Maps to find a bank branch or a restaurant, only to find the address or hours were wrong? (Too often for me.) Maybe if you only need to maintain one local page you can ensure that you are always present for mobile mobiles — but if operate hundreds of thousands of locations, being present with information your consumers want on mobile is not a slam dunk. Big brands also need to figure out how to manage their location data at scale.

Scale Your Location Data

For a national brand such as a Citibank or Best Buy, managing location means implementing a process to:

  • Take inventory of where your location data exists — the crucial information about all your locations, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers. Are all your locations represented? Which ones are lacking? Which ones are up to date? Who is on point to make sure that the incomplete data is updated?
  • Make sure data actionable. Ensure that your website has a locator widget to help customers find your stores. Ensure that your data appears on all the directors and sites (e.g., Yelp) that consumers use to find you.

“Having the correct location across the Internet builds data integrity, which improves your search results,” Hawkinson said. “Makes sure your website helps visitors find you via locator data.”

Be Mobile Friendly

Make sure that all your location pages are optimized for mobile devices, especially in light of Google’s latest mobile algorithm update, which makes mobile-friendly sites more findable. If the rich information on your website fails to display properly on a mobile device, then your locations don’t exist for mobile searchers. Optimizing your content for mobile need not be a gut-wrenching experience: Google provides a tool for testing mobile friendliness, as well as specific actions you can take to effect improvements. For more insight, refer to a recent Search Engine Land column by Adam Dorfman of SIM Partners, “Putting ‘Mobilegeddon’ in Perspective.

Real-World Success

Hawkinson shared an example of a SIM Partners client, Sonus Hearing Care, which improved its business performance with a local strategy. Sonus wanted to generate leads for all its local franchises. But Sonus lacked a way to create quality lead traffic in a scalable way; simply improving one location meant little if other Sonus locations could not improve, too. Sonus used the SIM Partners Velocity platform (a software for managing data across multiple locations) to more effectively target its customers via organic search, custom location pages, mobile pages, and listing distribution. By combining local search with broader marketing approach, Sonus generated more than three times the amount of anticipated qualified leads and improved return on investment by 2.5 times.

Marketing pundits have been talking about local and mobile search for some time. What’s changed, though, is that consumers are forcing a faster convergence between mobile and local. A mobile moment is no longer a time for searching but also for becoming a customer within seconds. Being present for the mobile moment is an essential customer acquisition strategy.

 

May 6, 2015

SIMposium 2015 Explores How Local Search Is the Next Battleground

By Tari Haro

The conversation about local search is changing. Our clients still ask us about important tactical issues such as how to optimize thousands of local pages for visibility. But clients have been asking new questions at a more strategic level. For example, “What’s the implication of the Apple Watch on my local strategy?” “How do I use local search to enrich multi-channel customer service?” In other words, clients want to know how to adapt local search to consumer behavior. With consumer “near me” searches increasing 34-fold since 2011, it’s easy to see why we believe local search is the next digital battleground for your brand. On June 11, we will explore the direction of local search at the annual SIM Partners SIMposium.

SIM Partners executives and guest speakers will assess the myriad ways consumers are driving a change in the way marketers use local search. For instance, we will examine the advent of the “everywhere customer,” or the consumer who comfortably uses multiple channels and devices to interact with your brand before making a purchase at your local storefront. Guest speaker Julie Ask of Forrester Research will delve into the many ramifications of mobile, including the need for marketers to be present during “mobile moments” when consumers can glance at their mobile phones or Apple Watches and find what they want immediately.

Our clients will share how they’re sensing and responding to a world in which the time between local search discovery and purchase has accelerated dramatically. Attendees will hear perspectives from financial services, healthcare, and retail from practitioners who are in the trenches, working with SIM Partners. Brands such as Advocate Healthcare, Red Wing Shoes, and U.S. Bank are mastering the challenge to be found — but they’re also acting faster than brands have ever need to in order to please everywhere customers who act in the moment.

Successful brands are doing more than learn about local search. They’re creating customer relationships by accelerating the velocity to action — and not just at one location but across hundreds and thousands.

Please note that SIMposium is an invitation-only event. But you can follow along via Twitter (hashtag #SIMposium). We will also be sharing presentations after the event — watch this space for more insights on the tools and techniques brands can use to drive customer acquisition everywhere.