It's important for franchises and other companies with multiple locations to have a local presence online. When consumers want to communicate with a local business, they want to go straight to the source, as quickly as possible.
For example, let's say today is your son's birthday. He told you last night—for the first time ever—that what he wants most in the "whole wide world" is a pet turtle. You don't know anything about caring for turtles, or whether local pet stores would even have them in stock. However, one look at those big, pleading eyes, and you know you're going to spend the next morning finding out. (And, hey, at least he didn't ask for another puppy!)
The next morning, while you're running birthday party errands, you use your smartphone to look up the number of the big pet store chain. All you can find is a link to the brand's national website. You assume there's a store locator somewhere on the site and that you can probably find the phone number if you dig for it.
Suddenly, you notice an ad for a smaller local pet store that includes a phone number. With one click, you have someone on the line, who confirms the store has what you need. An hour later, you have a turtle and $100 worth of supplies.
This scenario is good news for the local store and bad news for the big brand. One had the name recognition, but the other was easier to find online.
Moving Quickly, Spending Quickly
When consumers are in a hurry — and these days, everyone is in a hurry — convenience often trumps brand loyalty. This is particularly true for mobile users, who need information quickly and are prepared to spend quickly in turn. Seventy-six percent of people who conduct a local search through a smartphone visit a business within 24 hours, according to Google, and 28 percent of those searches result in purchases.
If mobile users are searching for a local business online, whether it's to find driving directions, check inventory, see store hours, or find a phone number, they're likely already planning to visit, if not already en route. If the information they need is too difficult to find, they might be wooed away by competitors who aren't playing so hard to get.
How Can National Brands Build a Stronger Local Presence?
Given the hypermobility of today's consumers, the right digital strategy doesn't just help brands drive online sales and mobile purchases. It can also drive foot traffic by connecting users with brick-and-mortar stores — if they can find information about them. The following are three ways franchises and other national brands can build local presences for their various locations:
1. Publish Local Information
When mobile users look up a local business and find an 800 number, they immediately envision being passed through numerous phone trees and then being told to hold for a representative. They know that's part of the deal when they call, say, the cable company or the Internal Revenue Service, but they don't want to go through all that hassle to talk to a business right down the road. They want to call a local number. Even if your company isn't local, you can use a business phone system to portray a local presence in individual markets by publishing a local phone number in any area code.
Every location doesn't necessarily need its own website, but it should be easy to find contact information for every store or branch, as well as store inventory, hours of operation, and any other important location-based information.
2. Optimize That Information
Instead of burying local information so deep on your brand website that neither customers nor Google's spiders can find, each location needs its own unique page that has been optimized for search engines. That way, when customers search for a business name and location, they don't just find a link to the brand's store locator — they find a listing for the local business.
3. Start Unique Social Media Pages For Each Location
Social media is a great way to publicize contact information for each individual location. Just as importantly, it provides a way for businesses to connect with communities and put a local face on the national brand. Customers can ask questions, leave reviews, and find out about sales or special events that are only happening at those locations.
Of course, those customers can also like, share, and tweet about the business to their friends and family members nearby. After all, they have a strong local presence, too.
To learn more about unified communications for your geographically dispersed enterprise, speak to a Vonage Business consultant.