April 26, 2012

Do Brands Really Need To Localize Everywhere?

My wife loves Jamba Juice –possibly more than me.  There isn’t a location in our home state, so wherever we travel, she actively seeks out a Jamba Juice – sometimes a couple of times a day.  One of her favorite things about Jamba Juice is they always look the same, making it easy for her to identify a location regardless of the city.  Jamba Juice gives her a great, consistent consumer experience.

When asked by national brands if it is really necessary to localize digitally everywhere, across all of their locations, I always think of my wife and Jamba Juice.  I typically reply to this question with a question: Do you (insert brand name here) attempt to localize your brick and mortar locations?  Do you want to create a consistent brand experience across your physical locations?

Of course the answer is always a resounding – yes.  Naturally, the next question is: Why?  The answer: Because all brands want consumers who contact them to have that consistent brand experience.

It’s easy to see where these two questions are leading. If brands want consumers to have a certain type of experience in physical stores, now that those consumers have gone digital, wouldn’t they want them to have that same type of experience? Consistency is key.

There is no doubt that we are now well into the digital consumer age, with the majority of consumers turning to the internet and search engines first when trying to find a local business.  According to Google, on desktop search, more than 25 percent of searches are local in nature. For mobile, the percentage is considerably higher.

Whether at home, at work or on the go, today’s consumer is turning to digital platforms to find the information they want and need. This includes weather, driving directions, business information, keeping contact with friends, and much more.

When it comes to local, there is one main rule any brand needs to keep in mind – if you do it locally for your physical stores, you must to do it online for your digital storefronts.  Location information, operating hours, photos, promotions – all of these things and more can and should be included in a digital localization plan.

It is imperative for brands to rethink and refocus not only on their physical stores, but put energy and effort towards their digital appearance as well.  Reaching consumers where they spend their time necessitates a focus in the local digital realm.

What steps should national brands take to ensure this type of digital consistency?  A simple three-step plan can be initiated by all brands to achieve digital consistency.

First, conduct an audit of all local listings across the local, digital ecosystem to determine accuracy and consistency level.

Second, implement a plan for listing overhaul, optimization and management across all engines, directories and local sites.

Third, track improvements and monthly activity with the local listings, using these reported metrics to drive changes and further improvements to the local digital storefronts.