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The new paradigm of Hyperlocal Marketing in the post-pandemic world

Authored by Tarun Sobhani - Founder & CEO, SingleInterface

A recent study by McKinsey highlights that not only has the pandemic accelerated the overall digitization drive by several years, but there has also been an astonishing speed-up in creating digital or digitally enhanced offerings. 

As retail dynamics continue to change and evolve in the ‘New Normal’, there is a consistent rise in dependency on information online, before taking any action offline. Owing to restrictions in movement and to minimize stepping out of home, consumers are increasingly looking for options that are closer to them. According to the Google Insights for Brands 2020 report, the search queries, for essential services “near me” or providing “delivery”, saw an unprecedented boost as a result of the current Covid crisis. While the top ‘near me’ searches were mainly for chemists, internet providers, doctors; what led the chart was the search for Grocery delivery ‘near me’, recording a whopping 550% growth in 2020.

There has been a significant shift in consumer behavior, both online and offline, during the ongoing pandemic. Today, a consumer plans, and plans well before stepping out of home. Along with searching for ‘near me’ options, consumers are also trying to connect and communicate with the stores for specific details, prior to visiting them physically. Online being the first port of information for consumers, the details that they are able to gather at this stage plays a critical role in their overall decision making. To understand this behavior better, we analyzed the data on our platform that was collated from thousands of retail locations on a monthly basis, for a period of over 15 months, starting January 2020. 

The analysis highlighted a significant rise in the ‘Click to call’ option during the lockdown period, among the consumers who were looking for retail outlets near them. The data showed that prior to lockdown approximately 60% of these consumers clicked on ‘Get Directions’ button as a preferred mode of action to connect to the retail outlets. However, during the lockdown and immediately after it was eased, the option for ‘Click to Call’ instead saw a notable rise of approximately 68%, while the ‘Get Directions’ option witnessed a dip. 

The study clearly indicates that a comprehensive digital presence of physical outlets, play a prominent role for retailers in acquiring new ‘digital first customers’ in the fast evolving ‘digital first’ world. Accessibility to information, having a direct connect to the store and a hassle-free experience, are all important aspects – both for the consumer as well as for a retailer.

For brands with multiple store locations, it is imperative that they not only boost their online presence, but also provide a seamless online to offline experience. A Consumer Study conducted in the US (The Impact of Retail Proximity on Consumer Purchases) also highlights that 93.2% of consumers transact with businesses located within 20 minutes from their home. This is where putting together a Hyperlocal Marketing engine comes in. While digital channels provide numerous opportunities to Geo target potential customers, setting up infrastructure for Hyper Local marketing equips a retailer to leverage its full potential. Geo targeting is a campaign tactic; while, Hyperlocal marketing requires a strategic commitment. An effective Hyperlocal marketing strategy covers the entire customer journey, starting from the discovery of the physical stores online to helping them complete a particular transaction. Products like Google My Business Listings, Facebook Location Pages are propelling the journey and making it a lot more convenient for businesses to bring forth their local presence.

As a building block of a Hyperlocal marketing strategy, brands need to ensure that there is a single source of truth for their location specific information across digital platforms like address, contact information, business hours and more. Once in place, this data helps power any physical location’s digital presence. On top of these location level digital assets, one can build the communication & transaction layer so that the journey for a consumer from discoverability to connecting, and finally transacting, is seamless and convenient. It gives brands the ability to let customers initiate an instant chat or call with a local store, showcase store level products with real time inventory information, understand location level customer analytics on search behavior, visibility, reviews, rating and much more.

As retailers and brands continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, they should be mindful of the rise in ‘near me’ searches as well as growing demand of customers for garnering accurate information online. With caution taking precedence over impulse and research preceding action, brands need to strengthen their hyperlocal marketing strategies in order to maintain visibility for their products and service.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. 


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