Hyperlocal Marketing In The Digital Age
“Vocal for Local” has been the trend the world over for some time now. 46% of all Google searches are for ‘local’ information. Not only are people curious about local information; 76% of those searching for local information on their smartphones actually visit a nearby business. 26% of nearby smartphone searches result in a purchase. Data points to the fact that a consumer discovering a physical store online, is already significantly down the path of making a buying decision.
As most of outlets and branches of companies open, there is an increasing need to generate ‘hyperlocal leads’ for these outlets and branches. With the news on the Covid Vaccine also coming in, this need is likely to increase over the coming months.
So, brands need to get their ‘hyperlocal marketing’ strategy and playbook in good shape in the digital age. Here I examine the key elements of such a strategy. Useful lessons gleaned from marketing practitioners who are doing an exemplary job, are also presented.
Elements of Hyperlocal Marketing:
Immediate connect to the last mile outlet / agent
Consistent experience across marketing channels
Ability to manage channels for ‘hyperlocal lead generation’ activities
In the digital world, consumers are keen to reach the actual agent or outlet, from where they can make a purchase. So, the most important element in hyperlocal marketing is to make the ‘connect’ immediately. Solutions like missed calls or calling a centralized IVR don’t make the cut, as the customer has to go through multiple levels before speaking to the ‘local’ outlet / branch / agent.
Brands are showing remarkable agility in using hyperlocal as a part of their marketing game plan: not only in getting customers to the nearest local outlet but also to get the nearest ‘representative’ to the customer’s doorstep.
As brands have larger number of outlets / agents in a small geography, it is almost impossible for a consumer to know which outlet is the nearest one. So, the old solutions of providing a list of outlets with phone numbers on websites or in print ads serves little purpose.
This necessarily means that brands need to make their channels ‘location aware’.
Consistent Experience across Channels:
Increasingly, brands are focused on digital channels for ‘discovery’. Inherently, some of these channels provide ‘location awareness’. For example, Google provides Google My Business, where outlets can be listed, allowing for hyperlocal discovery. However, these channels are built with individual outlets in mind. So, any store owner can list their outlet, without having to adhere to any brand guidelines. This creates issues for consistent brand experience, as also fraudulent listings. Brands need to use tools to be able to manage these effectively.
Another issue, which brands need to pay attention is to provide the same ‘location aware’ experience across other marketing channels – be it print ads, out of home (OOH) ads or their own website or in the call center. As consumers get accustomed to ‘discovery’ via social media channels, it is extremely crucial for brands to provide similar last mile outlet discovery possibilities on all marketing channels.
Customers are used to channels like Google for discovery, where they fill input in one box, in the way they want to provide. It is for the brand to interpret the information and provide the ‘location awareness. So, some critical things to think of on their website would be:
Multiple input boxes (state / city /…) should be a no-no.
Aid consumers by providing auto-complete options, as consumers are used to these
One box with free text is what customers are used to. It is best to allow users to provide inputs they are comfortable providing, be it a village name / city locality / pin code or a district in a state.
Brand specific customization of look & feel, including the map, is desirable.
Hyperlocal Lead Generation and Management:
Digital channels present a unique opportunity to create and use ads in hyperlocal geographies. It is possible to show an ad or a video in Malleswaram and Basavanagudi only, if a brand believes that it is target demographic is in these areas. Brands need to understand how best to use these tools and have a clear strategy to convert these discovery platforms to lead generation platforms.
Brands have used unique mobile-first tools to convert their own website traffic, print ad eyeballs, hoardings and google my business listings to leads for the brands. In a typical scenario, a Call To Action (CTA) click doesn’t result in an immediate purchase; so, it is vital that the brand has a mechanism to capture the lead and have good tools to manage the lead through to purchase. Otherwise, all the effort and money spent in marketing becomes difficult to justify.
View from the Practitioners:
We will look at two practitioners from two different industries: One from the auto sector and another from the banking space.
Aniruddha Haldar heads marketing at one of India’s well-respected and best-known brands, TVS Motor. It has several thousand dealers spread across the country, selling its automobiles. Aniruddha has been at the forefront of having an integrated approach at TVS for hyperlocal lead generation for several years. The approach can be summarised as follows:
Omni-channel approach from call center to website, to ensure that consumers can be quickly matched to the nearest dealer
Using Latlong Aanaya to ensure a scrubbed and unified source of location data for outlets, which is always kept current
All systems to access location data through standard Latlong APIs
This approach has created a consistent experience, whether TVS customers are in Chengalpattu or in Chandigarh.
Anand Bhatia is the Chief Marketing Officer at one of India’s unique banks, Fino Payments Bank. It has more than two lakh merchants delivering banking services to its customers. During the covid pandemic, Anand came up with a unique approach – “banking at customer doorstep”. His approach can be summarised as:
Customers need to see the ubiquity of Fino’s merchant presence visually
Leads generated should be sent to the nearest agent immediately
Anand deployed Latlong Aanaya modules for lead generation for this purpose. Fino Bank generated several thousand leads within 24 hours of going live with their campaign. At the height of the pandemic, they were able to reach consumers with banking needs stuck in different parts of the country, during lockdown.
Data generated from location enquiries, become great lead indicators for demand. This will become a powerful input into analysis and planning. That will be a topic for another day. Hyperlocal marketing and lead generation is critical to connect consumers to their nearest outlet or agent immediately. Brands need to think and execute campaigns to generate leads hyper-locally.