While there are plenty of global business models, the reality is that most people prefer to do business with local providers. When all things are equal we differ to the professionals we can look in the eye and shake hands with…
But that idea isn’t so simple to understand when it comes to the collision of online trends and real world usage…
When someone uses a smart phone to search for nearby services they first have to overcome the extreme bias of marketing dollars that control how ‘not so local’ businesses have bought themselves the lion’s share of exposure. While some search engines have limited ad slots to prevent the search results from being completely dominated by advertising, the bottom end of the ‘natural results’ are equally affected by money being spent optimizing information in a way that other local small and mid-sized businesses are unaware of.
But exposure is simply one metric for a local business….
We need to think about the secondary and less obvious impact points around digital information that can be vital to managing a healthy business.
Here are five basic ideas:
1 – Check-in Rates
I once had a debate with a regional health care group that no one used services to ‘check in’ at waiting rooms and clinics. A double-check of a dozen locations revealed that each location had dozens (sometimes hundreds) of employee check-ins in addition to non-patient check-ins for people who worked with or near the health clinics.
Why was this important? Some of the locations had clear security problems based upon check-in times and location. It also opened up questions around compliance and patient confidentiality when patients were checking in without understanding the ramifications.
2 – Search Volume vs Occupancy Rates
A national coffee chain didn’t realize how only search volumes on Google had a direct correlation to in-store visits fifteen to 90 minutes later.
Why was this important? The coffee chain was spending a substantial amount on pay-per-click ads to drive promotions and in-store visits. The ad campaigns didn’t have proper time sensitivity and throttling setup, so stores at 100% capacity continued to get even more customers sent in that caused them to be over capacity.
3 – Experience and Reputation Impact
The same coffee chain had a surge in negative reviews caused by some locations being over capacity. These negative reviews were directly caused by ad campaigns encouraging consumers to go to a local store only to experience excessive wait times.
Why was this important? How can spending marketing dollars to directly annoy your customers not be bad? By understanding when store occupancy rates were nearing 100%, ad campaigns could be turned off or redirected to other store that could handle the overflow.
4 – Social Relationship Data
By using social profile data for check-in and customer service processes, analysis of top customers who drive significant revenue can be identified.
Why is this important? Every business has ‘influencers’ who either drive revenue or drive brand evangelism. By knowing the top ten percent of your customer base you can custom tailor experiences and promotions for that group.
5 – Social Prospect Data
In order to sell anything well you really need to know your customer. When someone uses a Facebook function on your site/service/check-in/etc you can gain access to dozens of data fields.
Why is this important? Knowing your customer is half the battle. If you can connect with your customer and form a relationship with them based on recent experiences, personal interests, or professional needs that are identified in the social profile data you have a much better chance to successfully doing business.
It Isn’t Always About You…
Local business analytics can come from user interaction, location usage, and various technology signals.
When we think about information like the above examples we have to keep in mind that the same types of information also occur around other local businesses.
Imagine an “ideal prospect” likes to gather at a local coffee shop…
That coffee shop has dozens of online signals that you can examine for usage patterns, influencers you want to reach, and consumers you want to capture.
By studying local hotspots around your business locations you can often find critical data points that help you target when and where your audience will be.
What types of metrics are you missing out on?