Consumers want to take action now, and local businesses that are ready to serve up the most relevant-right-now info in a speedy, user-focused experience will win their loyalty.
Google’s recent Penguin update, otherwise known as Mobilegeddon, has shown the ranking impact of serving mobile consumers effectively with your online presence. The search giant’s own reports illustrate that today’s consumers demand seamless access to information and vote on the quality of that experience with their dollars. Consumers want to take action now, and local businesses that are ready to serve up the most relevant-right-now info in a speedy, user-focused experience will win their loyalty.
For destination marketing organizations and city economic development departments, missing out on serving mobile travelers and local customers means losing valuable hospitality and service dollars as potential customers head to areas that serve up convenient digital concierge services. Don’t forget that businesses are consumers too – after all, research for convention planning and business relocation is done by humans!
As mobile has drastically changed the buying experience in all consumer industries, marketing to these customers must reflect a knowledge of what that experience now entails. If your destination caters to the road trip crowd, being on the mobile map is essential to your continued growth and long term economic development. Show these ultra-mobile travelers why they should leave the beaten path.
Reviews matter. Whether or not your restaurant, shop, or attraction has a presence on popular, trusted user-review sites can make the difference between more business and no business. Mobile makes in-the-moment decision-making an all day and all night thing. Don’t fear negative reviews. It’s much better to see a range of opinions than arouse suspicion when every single review yields 5 stars. Trust your customers, they’re better at making fair judgments about unusually bad reviews than you think. Also, the link between being in the store and getting the info needed to make an educated decision most often leads to an immediate purchase by a happier buyer.
Share and be shareable. Mobile users are more likely to head to businesses that are actively responsive online. Use social networks as opportunities to hear what your customers and your competition are doing daily. You might be the only place in town to watch the next big sporting event or host a local team after a win. Social listening allows you to build strong bonds with your local community, collaborate with partners, provide on-the-spot customer service, and get an edge over your competitors who aren’t there yet.
Show and tell. Travelers and local consumers want to see what they’re getting before they get there. Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, and Meerkat are all in-the-moment opportunities to share the real flavor of your local business in addition to Facebook and Twitter. Instagram and Pinterest communities are looking for your perfectly plated dishes and unique décor. Live stream community, social, and business events with Periscope or Meerkat and show visitors what they’re missing. Learn the best way to encourage organic growth on these platforms (hint: search user-generated hashtags). These insider peeks help draw your customers in, developing authentic relationships that lead to loyal business long before they arrive. Don’t neglect your blog, though. Your own website is the most important digital real estate you own. Avoid sterile press pieces and make sure to keep the master community calendar updated.
Reel them in. Smaller cities with deep history located near major metro areas should make a point of emphasizing their big city/small town duality. Local residents are often looking for a way to get away from it all without actually going away. Your daily online visibility and responsiveness can reach farther and deeper than annual print publications ever will in today’s mobile consumer landscape. As an added bonus, the ROI on a digital campaign usually better and definitely more measurable.
The key to effective local mobile destination marketing is getting area businesses and attractions on the same page, which is a challenge in itself. One handy way to do this across multiple social networks is to select a single hashtag that reflects the identity of your city or destination and use it regularly both online and in print. Local business directories should always have up to date social network info, and those network timelines need to be regularly updated. For busy managers and business owners, hiring a social media or digital community manager is a moderate investment with high intangible returns in addition to direct revenue benefit. Serving mobile consumers means more than just being online, it requires a complete digital marketing plan for building authentic relationships and a commitment to blurring the lines between the online and offline community.