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It’s hard for local marketers to believe that it was just last March our goals were completely upended and we were forced to drastically change how we view local marketing measurement and success for both channels and campaigns.
Soft skills such as flexibility and the ability to pivot at the drop of a hat became a non-negotiable requirement.
Hard KPIs, as a result, have had to shift as what customers expect from brands requires a heavy lift of development to execute.
Curbside pickup, once a service targeted to busy individuals, is no longer a unique value add a brand offers but an expected health & safety protocol for all consumers.
The same is true for contactless delivery.
What does this mean specifically for local marketing—and particularly, how you measure success?
1. Pay Attention to Historically Overlooked Google My Business Metrics
In light of the pandemic, neatly packed content calendars were scraped and re-created with one topic in mind: how to keep customers informed while helping them feel safe.
Regardless of the product or service offered, every industry was affected to some extent.
From temporary closures and hour changes to outdoor or indoor seating, all updates to business operations required quick and effective dissemination of information to consumers.
Google Posts became a key tool for sharing information quickly.
In addition to the Post-type options Google had available previously, they also created a COVID-19 Post option which, allowed businesses to share critical safety and health information directly on the search engine results page (SERP).
This made the following Google My Business data points even more important than ever to track on a monthly vs. yearly basis:
- Search Impressions/Views.
- Website Clicks.
- Phone Call Clicks.
Prior to the pandemic, Map Views and Driving Directions were the key metrics of success.
As state-ordered lockdowns and closures occurred, consumers shifted to traditional search and adopted ecommerce options.
2. Focus on Measuring All Device Types
Mobile is the way of the world, and the pandemic only shifted its dominance.
However, mobile benchmarks alone can’t be your sole area of focus.
We recommend brands focus on analyzing desktop traffic, as well, on a monthly basis, to identify immediate trends that may assist with unearthing current customer needs and expectations from your website.
3. Use Referral Traffic to Measure Customer Engagement
Referral traffic to websites is not always the main KPI, but a secondary or supportive KPI depending on the story being told about customer engagement.
With shifts in how Apple Maps, Yelp, and other local sources provided opportunities for brands to share COVID-19 details about brick-and-mortar, measuring referral traffic and upticks from these platforms showcase how people are checking additional sources to continually fact-check the information.
It also unveils the need for accurate information across the local ecosystem.
4. Focus on Holistic Search Strategy Performance
Focusing on holistic search strategies has been important for some time.
As Google has forced brands to own valuable search terms through ever-changing SERP layouts and integrations such as Hotel Ad Feeds, local search efforts should be looked at as a lump sum, not mutually exclusive from their paid counterparts.
For example, adding budget to Local Search Ads or integration Local Inventory Ads in listings may help your customers find what they are searching for more efficiently.
Measure your paid performance, and if it proves to be a beneficial endeavor to undertake, add it to your overall search strategy.
Ultimately, a brand should want to be wherever their customer is, however they get there.
5. Measure Customer Sentiment in Reviews
There is a new layer of customer feedback due to the pandemic and some platforms, such as Yelp, are openly relying on customers to provide feedback on whether a business is following health and safety protocols.
Being able to monitor and knowing how to respond to reviews during a crisis has become an even more important element of local strategy and success.
Understanding sentiment around a business or brand, customer satisfaction, average star rating fluctuations, and addressing customer concerns will grow positive sentiment.
Additionally, how quickly and frequently internal teams respond to reviews and feedback has become an internal metric of success.
6. Leverage Google Analytics to Measure Ecommerce Performance
If you are in the retail sector and did not have ecommerce capabilities before, now is the time to develop and execute flawlessly.
With the holiday season starting in October last year, and ecommerce sales delaying shipping timeframes and causing logistical nightmares, it is crucial for businesses to ensure a seamless ordering process with quick turnarounds to receive products to build a positive brand association.
But, as the pandemic eases, how will it be possible to really understand how brick-and-mortar are performing against the digital shelf?
Google Analytics offers a beta Store Visits report that can help brands view their omnichannel performance.
7. Stay Current With Popular Search Terms
Focused keywords also need a pivot.
As [near me] searches grew in 2020, so did the terms [curbside pickup] and [drive-thru], as did newer terms such as [contactless delivery].
Are you currently tracking the trending keywords relevant to your industry?
If not, you could be missing the opportunity to convert high-intent consumers.
Reviewing the top terms from GMB insights will help businesses understand which keywords should be optimized to continue to reach current and new customers.
Refining your local marketing strategy includes reshaping the KPIs and metrics that matter most to your business.
As unexpected as the COVID-19 pandemic was, it brought to light new areas of opportunity for businesses, including new social-distancing services, and it skyrocketed both mobile and desktop purchases.
Metrics that were once crucial to track to determine your brand’s local marketing success are now obsolete.
It’s critical to stay informed to recover from a largely tumultuous event and set your business up for a prosperous recovery and future.