Why Has Hyperlocalization Become So Hyper-Important in Marketing?
How much do you leverage factors related to your immediate geographic locale in your Hyperlocalization Marketing Strategy?
If your response to this question is “hmmm, not much,” you might want to think about adding some serious emphasis – even if your company sells primarily to national or global clientele.
Why? What’s the point of zooming in so tight?
“Hyperlocal” is a buzzword that first started to make its rounds in Internet marketing circles a few years ago, when Google’s algorithms began turning up the dial on it. Here’s the generally accepted definition of the term, as it applies to marketing:
Highly targeted focus on a specific consumer audience pertaining to a town, village, neighborhood, single postcode or other small, geographically defined community.
Although it’s nothing new at this point in time, this approach has never been more important than it is right now. There are a few reasons that account for this:
Ever-increasing mobile usage.
Just take a quick look around you, the next time you find yourself idling in a public place. How many people around you are playing with their smartphones at any given moment? This is the world that we live in today. As reported by TechCrunch on August 14, 2014, mobile usage accounts for 60% of time spent on the Internet, while desktop-based consumption represents the other 40%. And this is only the beginning.
This ever-increasing shift toward mobile usage has put greater emphasis on local immediacy in the search results. Feeling hungry for Thai food? Long gone are the days when you’d have to scurry home or back to work to find an appropriate spot on a desktop computer; today, you can key in your desire from virtually any location on a mobile device, and be presented with a list of options centered right around your immediate proximity.
To boot: An iAcquire / SurveyMonkey report released in 2013 showed that 70% of mobile searches lead to action on websites within an hour. What’s potentially left unreported by this stat: This percentage may not even account for those who go directly to the storefront to make their purchase or talk through their options with on-the-floor staff – without taking further action on the website itself.
Again, the name of the game is on-the-ground immediacy with mobile users, which leads directly into the next consideration….
Google’s major updates to its locally based search results.
Given the meteoric rise of mobile usage, Google has adjusted its search algorithms accordingly – giving much heavier favor to websites based right around a user’s location – through a series of successive updates.
Google has three distinct sections of results that take location-based factors into account to varying degrees: (1) the “local” section, associated with the map; (2) the “organic” section of traditional results, running down the left-hand side; and (3) the “paid” section of ad listings along the top and right-hand side, whereby companies bid for placement through Google AdWords.
On July 24, 2014, Google shook up its “local” section with a new algorithm codenamed the “Pigeon Update.” This fresh equation improved Google’s distance and location ranking parameters, and aligned its local results more closely with the traditional section. Essentially, it counterbalances a user’s immediate proximity against other geo-based factors that signal trustworthy companies in that area.
One of the most significant adjustments that distinguished the Pigeon update was more intensive focus on immediate neighborhood. As explained by Neil Patel for Search Engine Land on May 15, 2015: “Instead of identifying cities as single geographical entities, [Pigeon] sliced and diced cities up into neighborhoods,” redesigning the way geolocation is calculated by redrawing boundaries and reducing search radius – for much tighter focus overall, hyperlocally speaking.
Additionally, the battle for placement in Google’s local section has become even more competitive due to another very recent change, executed in August 2015. Previously, Google showed seven local listings alongside the map at the top of its search results, nicknamed “7 packs.” This section has recently been reduced to “3 packs” (also known as “snack packs”), with only three listings featured in this section now, instead of seven. As a result, prized position in these three map-related spots has become significantly more coveted – and a lot more cutthroat as well. Focusing on the immediate neighborhood gives your company a firmer shot at consistent appearance in the top three slots for hyperlocally minded customers and mobile users.
Of course, Google isn’t the only search engine in town; Bing and Yahoo! have their own ways of incorporating local factors into their results – although they’ve been considerably less discussed in recent years. But Google still dominates search-engine market share by a landslide; NetMarketShare’s August 2015 report shows Google usage at 66.74% globally, versus 10.8% for Bing and 10.05% for Yahoo!.
The bottom line: Focus on a hyperlocal strategy is a wise move to position your company to receive maximum search-engine traffic, given the tighter and tighter focus on local parameters and search radius in the results displayed to users.
Sharper focus through data-driven marketing.
Significant advances in leveraging the insights of Big Data and heavy-duty analytics tools have also contributed to the hyperlocalization trend.
Through the mind-blowing power of these postmodern tools, companies can now zoom in on all sorts of demographics associated with current customers and prospects in a particular region – all the way down to the individual level. The objective, of course, is to use the information to streamline investment of marketing dollars into what works best, and provide consumers with offerings more precisely aligned with their needs, personalities, and shopping habits.
There’s often no better place to begin conducting this type of in-depth research than your company’s immediate locale. Learn what works most effectively at home, and then expand into other areas progressively – adjusting the approach to suit the idiosyncrasies of each respective territory and its unique profile of residents.
As reported by Elena Varon in a CMO.com article titled “Think Smaller: Marketers Zero In On Microtargeting” on July 23, 2012: “Called microtargeting or nanotargeting, the practice of using data to tailor marketing messages to tightly defined groups and individuals is emerging from an experimental stage.”
Three years later, this process is in full swing. Today’s smartest companies are taking full advantage of the use of granular data to microtarget their marketing at a hyperlocal level – to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
This actualized ideal is, of course, the Holy Grail of marketing.
6 Inside Tips to “Hyperlocalize” Your Marketing
Here are just a few tips to start “hyperlocalizing” your marketing to capture customers in and around your target area:
Insider Tip #1:
Concentrate on hyperlocal keywords, with particular emphasis on your company’s immediate neighborhood.
As mentioned above, the key takeaway for marketers from Google’s hard-hitting Pigeon Update – which redefined the way its local search results are determined – is a need to shift attention away from broader city terms toward a tighter neighborhood focus. This strategy will attune your business with the way that Google has recalibrated its system of geolocation, and will also serve to position your company to rank in the “3 pack” of local results for your immediate locale.
Be sure to incorporate all neighborhoods that apply to your locale. Think about all of the synonyms, alternate names, and abbreviations that could be used by your customers to describe your setting as well – particularly while they’re on the go, thumbing their query into a smartphone keypad.
Drop mentions of adjacent neighborhoods where you draw heavy customers too. The smaller the area, the more reduced the competition is likely to be, so don’t be afraid to get granular. At the end of the day, your goal is to show relevance to customers looking for hyperlocal solutions.
Insider Tip #2:
Take full advantage of hyperlocal-based microtargeting.
Today, there are just so many marketing and advertising channels with hyperlocalized microtargeting capabilities – from pay-per-click search marketing campaigns to Facebook Ads, in-app mobile advertising, Big Data-driven digital-media buying platforms, and much more.
As just one example, Google AdWords offers a full range of filters that allow your company to zero in on desired customer targets from a geographic standpoint, including:
• Location targeting, enabling ads to be served to customers within designated countries, states, cities, postal codes, neighborhoods, and more.
• Radius targeting, which allows ads to be shown to customers within a certain distance of your business, instead of designating individual cities, states, regions, or countries.
• Places of interest, including airports, universities, and central commercial areas – available through “Location Groups.”
• Location targeting by demographic, enabling your ads to reach groups of people according to their location’s approximate average household income, based on publicly available data from the US Internal Revenue Service – also available through “Location Groups.”
Similarly, Facebook Ads, in-app mobile advertising, and digital media buys can be microtargeted to fit the ideal demographics for your company at a hyperlocal level. For instance, Facebook’s “Local Awareness Ads” – released on October 7, 2014 – can be narrowed to a radius as small as a mile, showing up on mobile devices and web browsers for customers closing in on your office or retail location.
Through an assortment of granular filters, you can adjust your ad campaigns to make the most of your marketing budget from a hyperlocalized perspective.
Insider Tip #3:
Know the latest hyperlocal hotspots from the tourist traps.
This is where the rubber really meets the road with local marketing.
Anyone can do a little Internet research to identify large city landmarks on a map, but it takes a true local insider to know which areas are legitimately the most popular and sought-after at the present time by your target audience.
Associate your business with hyperlocal neighborhoods and landmarks that have the highest level of current demand for your target customers. Not only will it channel your marketing budget more effectively and draw a greater amount of qualified traffic, but it’ll raise your “cool factor” among the local hipsters within your customer base.
Insider Tip #4:
Make friends with hyperlocal influencers.
This is yet another dimension of local marketing that separates the wannabes from the insiders.
Do your rounds in your immediate proximity – not just online, but at local networking events as well. Who are the most recognized experts and personalities in your field locally? Who does your target audience look to as authorities when collecting information about various aspects of local living, making purchasing decisions, or even just looking to be entertained?
Develop strong relationships with these power players in your area; they’ll be your greatest allies for hyperlocal recognition. Explore cobranding opportunities, if appropriate. Find out what has worked so well for these local leaders in building a reputation in the area, and mine their insights for advice that your company can apply. Earn their highly trusted support, with a link or social mention directly from them that points to something interesting and helpful on your company’s website. These relationship-building efforts can go a long way in boosting your local profile.
Insider Tip #5:
Get social with hyperlocal prospects and fellow professionals in your target audience.
There’s a lot to be gained in rubbing elbows with the most recognized influencers who are based in your vicinity. But don’t forget about the little people too.
Do a thorough round of social outreach from a hyperlocal perspective, to identify potential customers and partners centered right around your immediate area. LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are all obvious channels that can be used to reach out to prospects for your company, depending on the nature of your business. Building up a base of close-range social connections will help to boost your firm’s hyperlocal standing from the standpoint of the search engines.
But leave all of those self-serving considerations aside when it comes down to initiating contact. All of the usual rules of social media apply: Just be perfectly real and genuine in approaching others, instead of coming in hot with an aggressive, off-putting agenda. There’s no harm in reaching out to get social conversations started with others who look as though they might be a good fit for your company, based on their posted profile. Let them know what caught your eye in their posted description. Don’t be shy, and just see where things lead.
Think about helpful company resources that you’ve got on hand that may provide legitimate benefit to those whom you approach – whether it’s a nifty tool or publication that may come in handy for them, or an upcoming event or conference that may be of interest. In this case, it doesn’t even matter where you live: Everyone loves free stuff.
Insider Tip #6:
Build a hyperlocal following by hosting regular events.
Developing a solid local presence often comes down to a matter of face time. Hosting regular events in your immediate community is an excellent way to establish a name for yourself, and form a network of reliable local supporters and fans.
For example, we entertain a lively Inbound Marketing Meetup Group in midtown Manhattan with more than 600 members. We convene with this group regularly to discuss the latest issues, strategies, and news in the marketing industry – with a guest-speaker presentation at the hub of each gathering, to ensure that all members walk away with plenty of actionable insights. (Please feel free to join us at a future session. Sign up to attend an upcoming Meetup here: http://www.meetup.com/Inbound.)
Social marketing is fabulous, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction – especially with a locally based audience, where travel costs rarely add up to more than a cup of coffee. It’s a great way to initiate long-lasting relationships with prospects, customers, partners, vendors, and other local allies.
If you haven’t given much focus to your immediate locale in your marketing efforts, now is the time to get granular from a hyperlocal standpoint. Given the effects of ever-increasing mobile usage, Google’s major changes to its geo-based search results, and all of the insights now being applied through Big Data intelligence, hyperlocalization is not just a passing trend; it’s the direction in which the entire digital-marketing industry is now headed, fast and furiously.
Start shifting greater attention toward your immediate location. A bit of concerted effort from a
hyperlocal perspective can truly go a long way.
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