Getting Local Search Right

It's challenging to get local search right. It's equally challenging to align budgets with metrics. Give local search the budget and attention it requires, now and in the future. Toward these goals, we asked iProspect search and social experts about the future of local search beyond 2017. Some of our thoughts might be surprising, but all of our expertise is actionable if you want to make the most of local search in your strategic local search marketing plans. 

"Local search isn’t a separate entry point, or a separate channel—it’s a behavior. Because of this, it’s hard for brands to figure out how to prioritize local search in their digital performance marketing mix. It’s easy to sell the value of maintaining your local listings—that’s housekeeping, and brands can easily find budget for it. However, it’s hard to prioritize local budget/measurement within channels, as the owners for those digital channels typically aren’t incentivized to drive in-store sales. Future success in Local Search depends on understanding consumer behavior and user intent, and seamlessly offering the right content at the right moment on the right device for local search." -- Jeremy Hull, VP, Innovation

“Today local paid social is incredibly time consuming since adding any kind of geo-specificity means a new campaign, and if we need to also see data split (or send creative separately..) to gender, age ranges or any other parameters now we’re growing exponentially. It’s also small scale typically so it’s hard to predict and takes more time and attention on a daily basis.

However, technology platforms are starting to emerge that help make this less cumbersome. Once that’s the case I think that paid social will become a staple in any local activation. Ideally feeds based!” -- Brittany Richter, National Director, Paid Social, Innovation

“By 2019, Bia Kelsey (local research data firm) predicts that 141 billion mobile local searches will take place, which would be five times the current rate of around 30 billion a year. Opportunities and importance of personalization, voice search, technology, and the ever changing search landscape will be vital to brands predicated on instore customer activation. This is much of the landscape, we mention above about searchers moving seamlessly between listings based on context and needs in the moment.  Local elements, and precise execution will tailor the experience to meet the needs of context. Search Engines in the near term will begin to deploy a more paid centric model for Voice, Local Paid map ads, and Paid Local search listings, as part of the SERP experience. It will be critical to have Paid and local organic aligned to ensure data accuracy, data aggregation, and content align. This in turn, will help ensure paid quality score is maximized because of local data relevancy.” -- Steve Beatty, Sr. Director, Owned Media

“When you consider the emergence of chat bots and what that means for an even deeper well of potential search query mining, the outlook for local digital marketing is quite exciting beyond 2017. Add a dash of machine learning and our ability to target consumers through the simultaneous marriage of time, location, intent and audience providing what they need when they need it -- regardless of the device.” -- Jess Dearien, Regional Director, Paid Search

“Progressive web apps hold the key for delivering localized and personalized organic content to users on a scale that we can only imagine at this time. Rendering fluid content searchable while remaining relevant to a query at one moment in time to the precise location of the person will be made wholly anticipatory through machine learning. If digital marketers fail to integrate brand resources around local search query intent today, they will be playing catchup to rival brands for years to come.” -- PJ Fusco, Regional Director, Organic Search

 “When we think about where the industry is heading, there are two elements that stand out:  Personalization and Data.  Consumers do not want to be talked “at”, but instead “with”.  As we move forward, we need to leverage the multitude of data points available to ensure we are providing consumers the experience that they desire to drive our client goals.  From a Local Marketing perspective, we need to understand where the consumer is not only from a geo perspective, but from a buying cycle perspective as well so that the message/experience better aligns with their (consumers) goal at that particular moment – marketing and site experience.  From a data/performance standpoint, we have seem highly targeted local initiatives have a drastic impact on in-store traffic and sales – in our opinion, it should not be measured by site activity, but instead offline impact. Whether it’s Google, Facebook or another In-store sales integration or probabilistic methods (statistical modeling) the better we can quantify impact the better we can understand where to increase or decrease investment.” -- Benjamin Flecha, National Director Advanced Analytics, Data Science & Attribution