Trick or Treat: Is Bad Data ‘Ghosting’ your local marketing efforts?

When national brands engage in local marketing online, their location data can play Trick-or-Treat with the results. If data is well-managed, brands are rewarded with an effective campaign. However, if location data is inaccurate, inconsistent, or incomplete, these campaigns can suffer serious problems.

 

In the worst cases, local marketing efforts can be “ghosted” by bad data. You run a locally targeted PPC campaign, yet your ads never appear the in right market. You invest in local SEO, yet your locations are nowhere to be found in search results.

 

While any business can suffer from problems with location data, larger brands tend to have the most trouble managing this data. So if you operate a brand with several locations, or you’re running a smaller brand with big plans for expansion, it’s important that you invest in effective location data management.

How Mismanaged Location Data “Ghosts” Ads & Search Results

In the world of digital marketing, there is nothing more frustrating than a “ghosted” ad or search result. You invest time and money in a marketing campaign. You think you’ve followed all the right steps. And yet, when you try to find your ads or search for your page, the results never appear (or, in some cases, they never appear where they’re supposed to).

 

When this happens to national brands with multiple locations, mismanaged location data is often the culprit.

 

If location data is managed at the corporate level, mistakes in your database can migrate into your local marketing campaigns. This can happen:

 

  • If franchisees enter their data incorrectly
  • If a mistake is made when transposing data from one database to another
  • If location data isn’t properly updated

 

While corporate-level management tends to be more accurate, the sheer volume of data can make it difficult to identify and correct mistakes.

 

If location data is managed at the franchise level, there is a very high risk of inconsistent data management from one franchise to the next. Franchisees end up using different systems and different practices for managing their data. This makes it extremely difficult to coordinate brand-wide campaigns that rely on location data. To make matters even more difficult, this data is often managed by employees or the franchisee: i.e., someone without a background in digital marketing.

 

Inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent data can end up neutralizing an otherwise flawless local marketing campaign. Here are three examples of how this can happen:

 

  • PPC Advertising. A lot of brick-and-mortar businesses run PPC campaigns with a geographic footprint tied to their physical location. This requires accurate longitude and latitude figures. If either of these figures is entered inaccurately, your campaign could end up targeting an entirely different location.

 

  • Local SEO. Google and other search engines tailor their results according to users’ locations. So, if your website is feeding faulty location data to users, your site might disappear from local search results. Another issue: incorrect or inconsistent data can reduce your site’s quality score, resulting in lower SEO rankings.

 

  • Local Listings. If your internal database contains inaccurate location data, these mistakes are likely replicated in external listings. Inaccurate or inconsistent local listings can lead to major headaches for brick-and-mortar businesses. Google could display the wrong address or phone number for your locations, confuse two of your locations for one another, or remove some of your locations from search results entirely.

Solutions to Local Data Mismanagement

All of this leads to an obvious question: If your brand has problems with location data, what should you do about it? We suggest two important steps…

 

First, re-evaluate your current location data management practices. If you don’t have a proper central database for this information, establish one. If you do, perform a detailed audit to eliminate errors, fix inconsistencies, and fill in missing data.

 

Second, establish a set of brand standards for entering new data or updating existing information. Make sure these standards are compatible with digital marketing best practices. It may be helpful to hire a digital marketing consultant for help establishing these standards.

 

Third, partner with a digital marketing company that specializes in local marketing for national brands. These companies are familiar with the pitfalls of inaccurate location data. They have systems in place to keep location data consistent, and they can troubleshoot multi-location campaigns much more quickly and effectively than other digital marketing companies.