Rethinking Your Digital Marketing Through COVID-19

With the news of the impact of COVID-19 changing every day, it can be tough to grasp how all of these new changes will affect your business overall, not to mention what the situation signals for your digital marketing campaign. While there are many uncertainties that lie ahead, there are still concrete steps you can take to maintain a marketing strategy that makes sense for your brand.

In normal times, marketing is all about adaptation – to new trends, new data, and changing consumer behaviors. Now more than ever, that ability to remain fluid through changing circumstances is key.

Your team should be thinking on its feet, while also being sure that any and all decisions are made in a spirit of compassion. This is the time to invest in long-term consumer trust and loyalty, keeping your brand in a positive light throughout the ups and downs that the future holds.

Adjusting Your Digital Marketing Approach During Uncertain Times

Here are our suggestions for maintaining a strategic approach to digital marketing while navigating this uncharted territory:

Aim to pivot, not pause.

While in-store traffic is being curtailed in the wake of the pandemic, TV usage, and at-home online activity are skyrocketing. This presents an opportunity for advertisers to reach their target audience through more targeted investments in different forms of advertising. Rather than pausing your campaign altogether, you can pivot your digital marketing strategy to comprise platforms that are most relevant to the here and now. 

OTT-CTV is one example that shouldn’t be overlooked. OTT-CTV advertising combines the impact of traditional TV advertising with the precise targeting capabilities of a digital campaign, including addressable targeting, behavioral targeting, and demographic targeting. 

The use of Social Media in the United States is up 30% in recent weeks. This is the time to make sure you’re staying in front of your audience and reminding them of your services. It’s also a great way to provide thoughtful content and share supportive resources with your audience.

By taking into account how your customers’ consumption of media is changing as their daily lives are altered, you can be sure to reach them as they embrace different platforms. 

Take a leadership role.

Customers may not know how the pandemic is changing how your industry operates, and providing them with more information can help them see you as an authority in your industry. From a quick email blast to social media posts or an informative banner on your website, there are many ways to go about getting clear information out there concerning any processing changes or limitations that are affecting the way your business normally runs.

Ask the right questions.

What do customers need from your brand right now? How can you adjust your services to make them more viable as self-isolation and social distancing measures become necessary? 

Many of these questions can be difficult to answer. Make sure you’re communicating with your digital marketing partner to help you navigate the right path you should be on during these uncertain times.

Strive to stay tonally on point.

In this day and age, certain subjects, images, and types of humor aren’t going to be perceived in the same way as they would have been even just a few weeks ago. Take the initiative to reassess all aspects of your digital campaign, from keywords and copy to visuals and other creative elements, in light of the current situation. Being proactive about tweaking these aspects of your digital marketing creative now can mean the difference between running an effective campaign and running one that is seen as being tone-deaf.

Trying times often call for creative thinking and a willingness to adapt. By taking things one day at a time while also keeping an eye on what the future holds, your team can make digital marketing decisions that give your customers confidence, shine a positive light on your brand, and help make the future a little brighter. 

Video Advertising in 2020

Video is a great medium for grabbing people’s attention—but only when it’s used strategically. Poorly produced videos will have viewers clicking away at lightspeed. However, high-quality, on-the-mark videos enable you to get your message across and make a lasting impression on viewers that resonates even after the clip is over. If you’re wanting to use video in order to grow your brand in the upcoming year, we have some tips that can help you get the most out of this engaging form of media.

How to Use Video to Amplify Your Digital Marketing Strategy

We often say that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” With video, you can count on amplifying that impact. Each second of your video contains a message that would otherwise require countless words to get across. Utilize this time in a way that allows you to connect with your audience, form a trust-based relationship, and inspire them to see your brand in a new light.

Here are just a few of the ways you can make an impact with this creative medium:

You can use video to bring the story of your brand to life. 

Show rather than tell your backstory in order to truly leave a lasting impression. When viewers have a deep understanding of how your brand came to be, they’ll be better able to relate to your messaging. Presenting your story in a creative way doesn’t just fill in the blanks for the audience, it can also help build your business by generating growth organically.

You can use videos to educate and inform your audience. 

Video is one way to provide a large number of people with information they value. In addition to delivering content that nurtures and increases the knowledge of your followers, creating informative videos keeps contacts engaged. It also helps expand your base by putting people on the path to conversion who were not initially searching for your product or service. As a source of reliable information, you’ll stand out from your competition and gain an advantage in the market.

You can reach busy consumers. 

As a member of the modern world, you have a first-hand understanding of just how busy people can be. Most people are more likely to choose to watch a video rather than take the time to read a long article, especially if it’s covering a topic that’s new to them. You can easily say a lot in a short video while also pointing users to other sources of information on your site should they want to delve deeper into the subject.

You can improve your email marketing strategy. 

Embedded videos breathe life into your emails and contribute to increased click-through rates. Of course, you’ll want to do thorough testing before your big email marketing push, since many email clients are still lagging behind on their video rendering abilities. Remember, people receive plenty of emails every single day that they’ll either skim or simply click away from. By offering engaging video content right in their inbox, you can give them a bit of respite from mental fatigue and a reason to stick around and listen to what you have to say.

You can catch—and hold—people’s attention. 

Video is an excellent way to ensure that you’re being heard when you put your brand and product messaging out into the world. When it comes to purchasing a product or service, people often prefer to rely on video rather than written content during the decision-making process. Not only does using video allow you to focus on the value your product or service can provide for the user’s life, but it also makes it more likely that they’ll be able to visualize that value themselves.

You can do more with your ads. 

Many digital ad formats are seen as a nuisance; we’ve all fought off irritating pop-ups at one time or another. If you’re looking for better click-through rates, focus on video. Video enables you to make a greater impact on your audience and deliver a resonating message that would otherwise get lost in the noise of banner and pop-up ads.

You can connect with more people. 

Using videos in social media is a cost-effective strategy that brands can use to get more eyeballs on their content in an organic manner. Videos shared via Facebook have a much greater organic reach than photos, as well as more messaging potential. The power of video to engage people on a massive level shouldn’t be underestimated, which is why many brands are making the resolution to invest in video as part of their digital marketing strategy in 2020.

Best Practices for Building Your E-Commerce Website

The number of digital buying worldwide is constantly growing. According to a report from Statista, this number is projected to reach 2.14 billion by 2021.

Giants like Amazon and eBay aren’t the only companies that are contributing to these skyrocketing numbers. Small online stores serving local communities are also thriving.

With sales at brick and mortar stores giving way to online sales, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your business is taking the right approach to e-commerce.

The best way to do this is to create a website that invites visitors in and converts them into customers with as little friction as possible. Design and content both play a huge role in enabling visitors to find the information they’re looking for and can make the purchase process a smooth journey when properly executed.

Read below to learn about the critical practices that can make web design and e-commerce strategy a success.

Use Customer Testimonials

Testimonials can be used to showcase customers’ satisfaction with your product or service in a clear and authentic way. Whether you include them as part of the product description or have a separate page dedicated to testimonials and reviews, this type of content is essential to building trust with potential customers.

Adopt a Minimalistic Style

A simple website design, including a straightforward navigation menu, improves the flow of your site, reduces friction, and directs visitors to the necessary conversion points. Distracting links, videos, pop ups, and other clutter can cause potential customers to click away from your site and onto your competitors’.

Make Honesty Your Go-To Policy

You shouldn’t have to deceive visitors in order to make a sale. Be as honest and upfront as possible, especially about prices and policies. Visitors can easily see through deceptive tactics, and a lack of clear information about your services will diminish their confidence in your brand.

Make Essential Info Easy to Find

An FAQ page and easy-to-locate search bar both help improve site navigation. If a customer’s question can’t be answered through either of these elements, they’ll want to be able to get in touch with you. List your contact info on its own page or at the bottom of the homepage, and include as many details as you can: an email address, phone number, and hours of operation are the bare minimum.

Prioritize Mobile Optimization

Don’t make the mistake of losing a customer because they couldn’t navigate your website on their mobile device. Use a responsive layout that easily adapts to all screen types (desktop, mobile, and tablet) and operating systems rather than creating separate mobile versions of the site. Don’t forget to perform tests from a variety of devices and operating systems so that you can get a feel for what your visitors are experiencing.

Maintain Uniform Branding

Your company’s branding, including its logo and color scheme, should act as a through-line for every page on your website. A consistent look doesn’t just project a more professional image for your brand, it can also prevent customers from thinking they’ve been directed to a different site. The need for consistency also extends to your navigation menu and design, which should remain the same from page to page.

Get a Second Opinion on Website Usability

It can be tough to see your website through the eyes of a visitor who is unfamiliar with your business. Hiring a professional to rate your site on its appearance and usability can provide you with an objective understanding of any improvements that need to be made.

Choose an Easy-to-Use E-Commerce Platform

An e-commerce platform can transform your website from a source of information about your company’s services to a successful e-commerce store. Be sure to select a platform that is easy to configure and works well on all devices. Some of the most popular, secure, and flexible e-commerce platforms include Shopify and WooCommerce.

Maintain a Flexible E-Commerce Business Model

Franchises have several options when it comes to taking their business online. A distributed e-commerce model is one of the most flexible of these options. Through this model, franchisees operate standalone websites while the franchisor retains complete control over branding and pricing. This helps avoid confusion among internet consumers and prevents uneven user experiences.

Generating Franchise Leads with Digital Marketing

Building sign says "Interested in a franchise opportunity?"

When you’re developing a franchise brand, your survival depends on your ability to generate leads. Your brand can’t grow without qualified franchisees — even if you’ve created a strong franchise offering. To succeed, you need an equally strong system for generating franchise leads.

Digital marketing for franchise owners will play a central role in this system. To attract, nurture, and convert the right franchise leads, you’ll need a comprehensive and multi-channel strategy, one that covers multiple digital touchpoints.

Let’s take a closer look at how to make this happen.

Why Digital for Franchise Lead Generation?

At this point, almost every major franchisor depends on digital marketing for leads. This change is reflective of a broader, global trend toward digital marketing. But in the world of franchising, the shift toward digital marketing is especially noteworthy.

Here are five of the biggest reasons why this is the case:

  • Digital marketing gives you access to the widest possible pool of franchise leads, across the widest possible geographic area.
  • Programmatic, dynamic, and retargeted digital ads provide a cost-effective way to target your most qualified leads.
  • Franchisees conduct extensive self-directed research before purchasing a franchise. The majority of this research is conducted online.
  • Digital analytics offer powerful, proven methods for tracking, measuring, and fine-tuning online lead generation campaigns.
  • A multi-touchpoint digital marketing strategy will anticipate questions, concerns, and needs, creating a near-frictionless sales funnel.

Digital Marketing Strategies for Franchise Leads

A franchise location is a major purchasing decision. Given the weight of this decision, the purchase journey for franchise leads is an exceptionally long process.

As a franchisor, you need to stay with your leads at every step of this process. To do so, you’ll need to cover a wide range of digital touchpoints. What’s more, you’ll need a comprehensive overall strategy for lead generation. This strategy will need to connect from touchpoint to touchpoint, creating a coordinated journey for your leads.

Franchise owners need digital marketing

Here’s a look at how a range of digital marketing channels can help franchise owners generate leads:

  • Website Design. Before purchasing a franchise business, most entrepreneurs go through an extensive, self-directed research process. This process typically involves several hours spent reviewing franchisor websites. In light of this, your website could be the most important weapon in your lead generation arsenal. The perfect website will be attractive, fast, and intuitive, and it will have resources for every stage (or nearly every stage) of your sales funnel.
  • SEO. When creating your brand’s website, you’ll want to invest in search engine optimized content. SEO is a particularly cost-effective strategy for franchise lead generation. Search volumes for industry-specific franchise keywords are relatively low, so there’s less competition for these keywords. At the same time, those search volumes include a significant share of qualified buyers.
  • PPC Advertising. As with SEO, paid advertising is another great way to target high-quality leads. Through keyword research, you can identify which search terms are most closely associated with the different stages of the sales funnel. You can then tailor your ads to mirror the purchase journey of your prospects, keeping friction to an absolute minimum.
  • Programmatic. Programmatic advertising can help you target leads with extraordinary precision. Programmatic ads target users based on their search behavior, browsing history, location, and other factors. This way, you can micro-target your highest-quality prospects. Even better, you can reconnect with leads at later stages of your funnel, providing content tailored to their needs and preferences.
  • Social Media. In the world of franchising, social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are the most powerful lead generation tools available. No other social networks compare in terms of quantity or quality of leads. Take the time to polish your personal and corporate profiles, target high-quality prospects with ads, connect with interested prospects via direct message, and qualify leads with paid ads that drive prospects to your website.

Each of these channels can be powerful tools for franchise lead generation. But that’s only true if they support and reinforce one another. To generate, cultivate, and convert high-quality leads, you’ll need to create a seamless journey: from point A to B to C.

To learn more about how Qiigo can help franchise owners achieve Franchise Development goals through digital marketing, fill out the form below to  connect with one of our digital experts.

3 Things Every Marketer Should Know About Hyperlocal Programmatic

If you operate a multi-location brand, programmatic advertising makes it much easier and cost-effective to operate hyperlocal campaigns. Advances in programmatic technology have given rise to the adoption of this form of advertising by multi-location marketers, but some are still in the dark about how to build the right strategy for their brand.

Looking for tips on how to run hyperlocal programmatic campaigns for your multi-location business? Here are three important tips that will help you target users accurately and improve conversion rates.

1. Know Your Target Audience

Any successful programmatic campaign depends on in-depth knowledge of your target audience. You need rock-solid data about who your customers are, what kinds of ads they respond to, and the touchpoints at which they’re most receptive to targeted ads.

There are a number of ways to build and/or acquire this data. Analytics from your website can give you significant data about consumer demographics, behavior, and preferences. Tracking technologies are another great way to build out detailed information about your customer base. Both of these methods will give you the ability to segment your audience into various micro-audiences — an important part of programmatic advertising.

The most effective programmatic campaigns are typically built on a mixture of first-hand data and data from third-party sources. Unfortunately, the quality of third-party programmatic data can be inconsistent at best. So, when purchasing third-party data, it’s often a good idea to lean on a digital marketing agency with deep experience in this field.

2. Leverage Hyperlocal Targeting & Customization

Hyperlocal programmatic marketing delivers extraordinary value to multi-location brands. The reason for this is simple: programmatic marketing succeeds through personalization, and a person’s location is a critical factor in his or her purchasing decisions.

Imagine you’re searching for restaurants that deliver to your workplace. As you browse online reviews, you see a pair of ads for two chains of Thai restaurants. One ad tells you the address of the nearest location, shows you reviews for that location, and includes how long it will take them to deliver to your address. Meanwhile, the other ad contains generic copy for the brand, with no information about their nearest restaurant.

Which ad are you more likely to click?

Countless case studies have shown that users are much more likely to click on the localized ad instead of the generic one. This underscores the importance of not only targeting customers on a hyperlocal level, but also of customizing your ads to reflect location data.

3. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

While hyperlocal targeting is incredibly effective, brands sometimes make the mistake of focusing too heavily on geographic targeting. No matter how precisely you target customers on a geographic level, your ads will fall flat if users are not targeted along other vectors.

Personalization is the key to successful programmatic campaigns. The more accurately an ad reflects a specific user’s needs, the more relevant that ad will be to the user and the more likely that the user will click it. While a user’s location is one of their most important data points for certain types of purchases, there are a number of other data points that will be relevant to their purchasing decision.

Multi-location brands must be careful not to lose sight of this when they develop hyperlocal programmatic campaigns. While geo-targeting is a crucial element for multi-location programmatic campaigns, a successful campaign will use multiple targeting methods, drawing on several different types of user data.

Learn more about Qiigo’s Programmatic solution by clicking here.

PPC-Part of the Band-Not a Solo Performance

In digital marketing, it’s easy to get excited about pay-per-click ads (PPC).

Thanks to Google Ads, PPC is one of the most reliable channels for digital marketers. It also offers the kind of analytics that marketers love, with clear and immediate data on what works and what doesn’t.

This can lead some brands and businesses to over-invest in PPC, with marketers pouring more and more dollars into PPC campaigns. Meanwhile, they ignore channels that are harder to track or take longer to develop.

But PPC should never be a solo performance. Focusing too heavily on paid search ads can make you invisible to most of your target audience, impeding your ability to generate awareness. It can also put your brand at risk by taking an all-eggs-in-one-basket approach.

By making PPC part of a group effort, you’ll avoid these problems. In fact, several case studies have shown that PPC campaigns benefit from a coordinated and holistic approach to digital marketing.

The Risks of PPC as a Solo Performance

Overinvesting in PPC ads carries a number of risks for brands and businesses.

These include…

RISK #1: Missed Funnel Stages

When users are already interested in a product, service, or brand, PPC ads can capture this interest and translate it into conversions. But PPC doesn’t work as well for generating that awareness and interest in the first place. Other digital channels, like social media and programmatic, do a better job with up-funnel prospects.

RISK #2: Eggs in One Basket

When you over-invest in PPC marketing, your marketing strategy becomes more and more risky. Variations in consumer preferences, increased competition for keywords, or changes to the Google Ads platform itself could tank your PPC efforts. Without a diversified strategy, your web presence may be at risk.

RISK #3: Narrow Web Presence

While Google is one of the world’s most powerful and popular websites, users only spend a fraction of their time on Google properties. When they’re on social media networks like Facebook, or when they’re browsing content on their favorite websites, your PPC ads aren’t there. To maintain a broader web presence, you need a broader strategy.

RISK #4: Shallow Pool of Data

Marketers love PPC for its rich data and the strength of its analytics. But if you’re not pulling data from other sources, you’ll miss out on key insights about your audience. You’ll also lack data sources that can power your PPC campaigns, like remarketing lists that allow you to target past visitors to your website.

How to Make PPC a Part of the Group

It’s one thing to say that PPC needs to be a part of a larger group. It’s another thing to put that into practice.

To get you started, here’s a look at how to coordinate PPC with other digital channels…

PPC + Social Media

While PPC is great at capturing down-funnel prospects, social media thrives at capturing an up-funnel audience. It’s also great for sustaining interest in your brand and moving users down your sales funnel. When they’re getting closer to a purchase decision and start conducting Google searches, your PPC ads will be ready.

At the same time, social media gives you valuable audience data that can be used for PPC campaigns. Audience insights on social media can provide you with new PPC keywords, identify new target audience segments, and help you tailor your ads to your audience. And if you can direct social media followers to your website, you can retarget these users with PPC ads.

PPC + Organic Search

In the area of search engine marketing, PPC should only be one part of your overall strategy. You should also be targeting organic search results, targeting national or local rankings, depending on your business.

A strong organic search presence takes longer to build. But with routine site maintenance, it can be maintained for years and years. At the same time, it can help boost your PPC campaigns, as users are more likely to trust your ads if they see organic results for your business on the same page.

Organic search is also more effective than PPC at capturing up-funnel prospects. Once on your website, these prospects can be added to your remarketing lists, allowing you to serve them with uniquely tailored PPC ads.

PPC + Programmatic

PPC ads work great at capturing search traffic. But users spend less than 5% of their time on search engines. But with programmatic ads on the Google Display Network and the Facebook Audience Network, you can serve ads to users across millions of websites, social media networks, and apps.

Both the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network are controlled via Google Ads. This allows you to create coordinated campaigns where you target users with PPC ads after interacting with programmatic ads and vice versa. And if you coordinate your messaging across PPC and programmatic ads, you can increase your click-through and conversion rates on both types of campaigns.

Optimize Your PPC Campaigns With These Tips

With the right approach, pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns are one of the most effective channels for digital marketing. In fact, the largest PPC platform right now, Google Ads, is so popular with marketers that it rakes in more than $100 billion each year. What’s more, returns are so strong that 78% of marketers increased their Google Ads budgets in 2019.

Despite the strong returns on Google Ads, few brands take full advantage of its tools and capabilities. Rather than eye-popping ROIs, their campaigns generate middling returns. This is usually a case of poor optimization. If you skimp on important investments (like keyword research and split-testing) or skip over powerful features (like ad extensions and RLSAs), your campaigns will suffer.

But if you optimize your PPC campaigns using the 7 tips below, you’ll see much stronger returns from Google Ads.

7 Tips for Better PPC Campaigns

1. Keyword Research

Keywords are the foundation of any successful Google Ads campaign. If you target the right keywords, Google will serve your ads to the right users at the right times. That means higher click-through and conversion rates, stronger Quality Scores, and lower Costs per Click.

Unfortunately, many brands fail to invest the kind of time and effort required for effective keyword research. This typically results in a list of broad, generic keywords, which tend to be more expensive, more competitive, and less conversion-friendly.

2. Negative Keywords

One of the best ways to target a broader range of keywords is to use Google Ads’ broad match or phrase match feature. However, these features can result in mismatches. For example, if one of your keywords is “men’s jeans,” broad match could serve your ad to someone searching for “men’s khakis.” That’s not very helpful if you only sell jeans.

To avoid theses mismatches, you can use negative keywords. Google will not serve your ad to searchers whose queries contain these keywords. So if you’re only selling jeans, you can add “khakis” as a negative keyword. This way, your ad will never appear in searches for “khakis.”

3. Location Targeting

If you operate a hair salon in Pittsburgh, you don’t want to serve ads to users searching for “hair salon” from a device in Houston, Salt Lake City, or Portland. In fact, you probably don’t want to serve ads to anyone who’s more than a few miles from your business.

With location targeting, you can narrowly target searchers within a certain radius or a defined geographic area. This way, your local business can serve ads exclusively to local consumers. You can even create different campaigns for different geographic settings.

4. Remarketing Audiences

If you’re not already using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), you’re missing out on one of Google Ads most effective features. RLSAs allow you to target visitors who’ve previously visited your site. These users are already more likely to click on your ads and convert. Plus, you’ll be able to tailor a set of ads to this group.

Once you’ve started using RLSAs, you can also take advantage of Google Ads’ similar audiences feature. This feature automatically finds users with similar characteristics and search behaviors to the users on your RLSA lists. This gives you an entirely new group of users to target with similarly strong conversion rates.

5. Ad Extensions

Google Ads aren’t nearly as visible as other ad formats, relying largely on compelling headlines and copy. To make your ads more visible and more compelling, we recommend using ad extensions. Ad extensions allow you to include additional information, which can make your ads more compelling to users. At the same time, they increase the visibility of your ads, giving you a new way to grab users’ attention.

Some of the most popular and effective ad extensions include:

  • Call Extensions. Allow mobile users to call your business by pressing a button.
  • Callout Extensions. Add short blurbs to your ad, like “free delivery.”
  • Location Extensions. Include business information for your local business.
  • Message Extensions. Allow mobile users to send text messages to your business.
  • Sitelink Extensions. Add links to specific pages on your website.

6. Split-Testing

Split-testing has been a cornerstone of paid search campaigns from the outset. Yet many brands only perform limited A/B testing on their ads. After testing an initial set of ads at the start of a campaign, they fall into a groove. Rather than continually testing and refining ads, they allow them to stagnate.

Today, this kind of approach simply isn’t feasible. Consumer behaviors are evolving at a breakneck pace, and other advertisers are evolving just as quickly. If you’re not continually testing and refining your ads, they’ll fossilize before your eyes.

7. Conversion Tracking

Advertisers are charged for PPC ads on a click by click basis. What’s more, Google determines the cost of each click based on a Quality Score, which is determined by each ad’s click-through rate (CTR). This has made CTR the leading metric for measuring PPC ads and campaigns.

But if you’re measuring PPC campaigns by CTR alone, you’re missing the big picture. The real measure of a campaign’s success is in its conversions.

In Google Ads, you can solve this problem by adding conversion tracking to your campaigns. Conversion tracking uses HTML codes to track which users convert after clicking on PPC ads. It can be integrated with Google Analytics to track conversions through your website, and it allows you to measure important data like cost per conversion, conversion rate, and value per conversion.

Make sure you’re asking your digital marketing partner about these PPC tactics to ensure you’re getting most out of your campaigns. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get real results from your Pay Per Click marketing.

What You Should Know About Local SEO vs. Organic SEO

Understanding the difference between Local SEO vs. Organic SEO is important for national brands, local businesses, and pretty much anyone else that wants to market themselves online. But unless you’re already familiar with SEO, it can be tough to understand this distinction and why it’s so important.

 

At Qiigo, our work with national brands and local businesses has given us a unique understanding of both organic and local search. Below, we’ll examine the difference between these two services, along with how they can be used to support one another.

 

Local SEO: Putting Your Business on the Map

When you enter a search query into Google, one of the first things its algorithm checks is whether or not the search has “local intent.” This is another way of saying that someone’s looking for search results that are relevant for their local area.

 

An easy example of this is when a person adds “near me” to the end of a search query. If you’re based in Atlanta and you search for “hairdresser near me,” you expect Google to send you information about hairdressers in Atlanta. If someone in Seattle (or Denver, or Boston) makes the same search, they will also expect search results tailored to their local area.

 

Google has a number of ways to determine whether or not a search has local intent. A few quick examples include:

  • The query contains a city name, a state name, or a phrase like “near me.”
  • Google recognizes the query as one that typically has local intent (e.g., “pizza delivery”).
  • Your recent search history indicates that you’re looking for local results.

 

When Google identifies local intent, it will adjust its search results based on whether or not they have local relevance. Many times, it will also display a “Local Pack” with its top local search results from Google Maps.

 

Local SEO involves optimizing your website for these types of search results. If you run a local business, you want to market yourself to local customers. If your hair salon is located in Castleberry Hill, local SEO will help you rank better in search results for users in Atlanta.

 

For brick-and-mortar businesses and individual brand locations, SEO should focus on local optimization. Customers from Seattle (or Denver, or Boston) aren’t flying hundreds of miles for a haircut, so you don’t need to worry about appearing in their search results. Instead, you can focus your efforts (and money) on reaching as many local users as possible.

 

Organic SEO: The “World” in Worldwide Web

“Organic SEO” is a tricky term, since the vast majority of SEO — including local SEO — can be considered organic. But typically, when people say “organic SEO,” they’re referring to traditional search engine optimization.

 

To understand the difference between local and organic SEO, let’s take another look at Google. When you search “best laptop for windows,” Google’s algorithm won’t detect local intent. So instead of providing you with customized search results for your location, it will show you the same search results that it would show another searcher in a completely different city.

 

Because of this, organic SEO tends to be much more competitive. With local SEO, you’re only competing for searchers within your geographic area. With organic SEO, you need to compete for searchers across the U.S., as well as in other English-language countries.

 

Needless to say, most local businesses stay away from organic SEO. The level of competition makes it far too expensive. What’s more, the vast majority of traffic will be from searchers 100+ miles (or 1000+ miles) away. In place of local businesses, the competition for organic search results tends to come from national publications, e-commerce stores, and larger brands with a nationwide footprint.

 

Coordinating Organic & Local SEO for National Brands

 

At Qiigo, our work with national brands leaves a lot of room for crossover between organic and local SEO. On a brand level, we employ organic SEO strategies to boost awareness and drive traffic to brands’ national websites. On a location level, we use local SEO to target queries with local intent and drive customer traffic directly to brick-and-mortar locations.

 

National brands can benefit from using a single digital marketing partner for brand-level organic SEO as well as location-level local SEO. The simple reason is that organic and local SEO efforts have a symbiotic effect.

 

If your brand has a strong organic search presence, that will give a boost to local search rankings for individual locations. If your brick-and-mortar locations start achieving high rankings in local search results, this will often boost organic search rankings for your brand as a whole.

 

While it’s important to know the difference between organic and local SEO, national brands should avoid an “either/or” mindset. Instead, embrace a “both/and” SEO strategy, one in which the brand and its locations are supporting and strengthening one another.

 

 

7 Digital Marketing Best Practices for Multi-Location Brands

Digital marketing can be a thorny issue for multi-location brands. On the corporate level, you’re engaged in broad, national campaigns that promote your brand as a whole. On the location level, you (or your franchisees) need to worry about local marketing efforts. That means taking a hybrid approach to your digital marketing strategy.

 

Yet, when you look online for digital marketing best practices, there’s little information on how to balance brand-level and location-level marketing. Most of the advice you’ll find is focused on one or the other. There’s little information on how to coordinate corporate campaigns and local marketing to complement one another.

 

At Qiigo, we specialize in digital marketing campaigns for national brands, so we know a thing or two about the best ways to market your multi-location brand online. If you’re in the process of rethinking your digital marketing strategy, here are seven important areas that you’ll want to focus on.

 

What Multi-Location Brands Need for Digital Marketing

 

  1. Create Unique, Localized SEO Content. If your brand uses boilerplate content for each location’s sub-site, these pages will likely be excluded from search results. Google expects every page on your website to have unique content. When it detects duplicate content, it removes these pages from search results. Effective local SEO for multi-location brands therefore requires the creation and implementation of unique, localized content for each location’s website.
  2. Centralize Your Pay-Per-Click Campaigns. One of the advantages of modern PPC is the ability to carefully segment your PPC campaigns. This has made it much easier, cheaper, and effective for multi-location brands to centralize their PPC efforts. Centralized campaigns benefit from the cost-efficiencies of scale, the accuracy of larger data sets, and the cohesion of a unified message. Meanwhile, it’s now easy to customize ads based on users’ locations, or to create a market through which franchisees can increase or decrease ad spending in their market.
  3. Engage in Two-Tier Reputation Management. Reputation management for multi-location brands naturally occurs on two levels: the reputation of your brand, and the reputations of individual locations. While some companies prefer to focus their corporate efforts purely on their brand-level reputation, it’s often smarter to assist individual locations with reputation management. This can be done by identifying locations with low review counts or middling ratings, then providing them with tools and resources to strengthen their review profiles.
  4. Local Listings Monitoring & Management. It can be costly and inefficient for individual franchise locations to manage their own local listings. By handling local listings management at the corporate level, multi-location brands can eliminate redundancies and lower the cost of these services. Centralized management also carries other benefits. For example, it ensures business data is consistently structured from one location to the other. And if problems with one location’s data are causing problems for another location, it is much easier to correct his issue.
  5. Help Locations Win Fans on Social Media. Social media is one area where it can pay to give franchisees control over digital marketing. Franchisees can put a human face on their business and use social media to build a strong community presence. With that said, there’s a lot that brands can do to aid franchisees on social media. For example, brands can provide franchisees with content to augment their social media feeds, creating a mix of corporate and local content. Brands can also use their corporate accounts to signal boost franchisees’ posts and profiles.
  6. Target Locally with Programmatic Ads. Programmatic ads — which show users ads based on certain types of user data — are an excellent tool for local marketing. Multi-location brands have an advantage in this field, since they can build and/or acquire large data sets for programmatic targeting. This data can then be used to run centralized campaigns that include localized targeting and customization. Alternatively, it can be provided to franchisees who wish to run independent programmatic campaigns.
  7. Mobile-Friendly Website Design. Nearly two-thirds of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices, and studies show that most local searches occur on mobile devices. In light of this, it’s crucial that multi-location brands have mobile-friendly websites on both the corporate level and local levels. In particular, it’s important that you have a mobile-friendly store finder — a feature that often has problems on mobile devices.