Connecting with Digital Consumers – Building Your Slice of Audience Pie

The digital space is so saturated with brands that ads can become white noise for consumers. Because of this saturation, it’s becoming increasingly important for marketers to know their target customers inside out to build ideal audience groups and break through the clutter. In this post, I’m going to look at what brands need to do to identify their target audiences and build their slice of the audience pie.

As I prepared for this post I thought, “I’m a consumer. How do I want brands to target me?” First and foremost, I want the brands to have a deeper understanding of my relationship with their product. Simultaneously, I thought about one of our financial partners we work with to market their service. The service is one that can be utilized by all consumers, but we only want to target a portion of that pie.

So, how do we figure out how to identify and reach that portion? To the drawing board we go…

*Disclaimer – KPIs always dictate which piece of the audience pie makes will provide our client the most return on investment (ROI).

Peter Minnium, President of Ipsos Connect, advocates for the “pushmi-pullyu” strategy for brand engagement. The push approach is standard, where “the population is segmented, targets are built and likely buyers are interrupted with ads designed to drive awareness and purchase intent.” The push-method is mechanical and often cold; an old standard in digital marketing.

The pull approach is “closer to the strategy of entertainment companies seeking to build an audience. Loyalty and enthusiasm are constructed on a foundation of compelling content and are maintained by an attentiveness to how the content is received.”

As marketers, how do we know when to push and when to pull to earn the attention of an ever-changing audience? To build on our slice of pie, we must examine the relationship between the brand and these consumers. We start the million-question journey to understanding the relationship:

  • Is there an emotional stake for your consumer?
  • What are our short-term and long-term goals?
  • What is the consumer journey and buying cycle?

By answering these questions (and many more), we start to build a path that in the end triggers an action while creating a moment between brand and consumer.

Recognize your audience is multi-dimensional. Going back to our slice of pie for our financial partner: Our target group is tech savvy but older, with refined tastes and connected with their family. Maybe they enjoy yoga, barbequing, live music, but also like to slow it down for a game of Life. Layering in these behaviors, we can position our messaging exactly where our audience is browsing online. We’ve now found our segments, we know the relationship, so what story do we tell?

This is where our creative storytelling must be flawless. Creative is the bridge to our audience segment and sale. An emotional pull is best served within content. We have to ask: Is our message compelling? Do we show how and why our consumer needs to engage with our brand?

We’ve now come full circle; or, in our case, to a perfect slice of pie. But our job isn’t done, there’s one more ingredient: Measurement. Since we’ve built our audience based on the relationship, it’s important we measure our consumers’ relationship, favorability and intent with our brand. Our ideal world will always be to follow the consumer from view to purchase because this not only closes the gap but will measure the success of our segmenting.

Now, who wants a slice of pie?

Related Case Study: How our sequential messaging strategy crushed client goals

[OCTOBER 2017] “Near me” Searches on Google are Declining – What that Means for Local Businesses

Industry Update – Local Search

Searching for nearby businesses used to mean almost always using geo-modifiers in the search query. However, while mobile searches for businesses continue to increase, the use of geo-modifiers has actually declined since 2015, according to Google. Over the past two years, searches for local places without the qualifier “near me” has increased 150 percent.

Google says the shift toward dropping location modifiers is “because people know that the results will automatically be relevant to their location.” While some searchers still include modifiers, the declining use of qualifiers like ZIP codes, neighborhoods and “near me” shows that users now expect Google to deliver local content based on their location and assume Google knows when a search has local intent.

Source: Google Trends

What this means for local businesses and multi-location brands

It’s important to keep in mind that implicit local searches (searches that don’t have a geo-modifier but are still likely to be for something nearby) are not only growing but have always had a higher base volume compared to explicit local searches (searches with geo-modifiers like “near me”).

It is also important to know Google treats implicit and explicit searches differently. Here’s a look at three searches, two with a geo-modifier and one with just the search subject.

These are three very similar searches that a local consumer looking for a financial advisor is likely to conduct. While there’s some overlap, the three search results vary quite a bit despite the similarity between searches.

  • “financial advisors near me” returned four paid search ads followed by the local map pack. The top three organic results (not pictured) were for news and industry sites, not specific financial advisors.
  • “financial advisors peoria il” returned a search engine result page (SERP) with a local map pack up top, followed by organic search results. No ads were visible until the bottom of the page after the organic results.
  • “financial advisors” returned a similar SERP to the first search but had no overlap in the brands appearing in the paid search section and had a different brand in the third local map result.

Related – Rank ‘em: How Financial Brands Stack Up in Search Engine Results

Search queries (and therefore the results they return) can also vary based on the characteristics of the consumers conducting them:

  • Proximity: Where the consumer is physically located
  • Intent: What stage of the buying cycle they’re in
  • Behavior: What online actions they’ve already taken related to the search
What local businesses and multi-location brands should do now

Diverse results for similar searches shows that Google considers a myriad of factors when ranking local search results. Since Google looks at a variety of factors to determine which brands are most relevant for each search, local businesses need to embrace a holistic and robust approach to maximize their visibility in local search results.

Brands who find success connecting with local searchers employ a strong mix of strategies including:

  • Local listings management
  • Localized paid search campaigns
  • Optimized local landing pages
  • Review management and monitoring

Related – [Video]: Taking Control of Your Presence on Google

Want to learn more?

Check out these resources for more information on how your brand can improve its presence in local search results.

[Guide]: 5 steps to optimize your brand’s presence for local searches on Google

Dominate Google’s Search Results by Following these 3 Steps

3 Ways to Control Multi-location Search Competition in the Same Market

The Best Way for Multi-Location Brands to Manage Local Business Data

The Latest from Google: September 2017

Need help connecting with local searchers?

Contact Mindstream Media Group today to learn about our local search marketing solutions.

Google Increases Daily Spending Limits for Ads Accounts – Here’s What That Means for Advertisers

Google Ads now allows advertisers to spend twice their daily budget on high-volume days. If that has you wondering what the point of a spending limit is if it doesn’t really limit your spending, don’t worry; Mindstream Media Group put together this list of answers to the most pressing questions surrounding the move. 

What’s going on?

Google recently announced what could be a major shift in the way Ads budgets are managed. Starting this month, Ads campaigns will be able to spend double their daily budget limit each day. In the announcement, Google said the change will help advertisers reach their goals, like clicks and conversions.

Why did Google make the change?

The reason behind the change, according to Google, is that “internet traffic is like an ocean. Some days, there will be small waves. Other days, there will be great big ones.” Google’s theory is that campaigns perform better when spending is focused on high-tide periods that get enough impressions and clicks to drive growth.

Related – The Latest from Google: September 2017

How does it work?

Google Ads bills advertisers monthly, but spending is controlled by daily budgets. Previously, campaigns could spend up to 20 percent more than their daily budget on any given day. Now, the flexible limit allows campaigns to spend up to double their daily budget. Campaign spending will have a monthly cap, which is determined by the sum of the daily budgets throughout the month. If spending exceeds that cap, Google will credit those dollars to advertisers the following month.

For example, let’s say you’re an advertiser with a daily Ads budget of $100, which means you have a monthly budget of $3,040.

Determining monthly AdWords budgets

On days with high-search volume, Google will now allow your account to purchase up to $200 in clicks. Over the course of a month, you’ll notice some days hit this $200 level while spending on other days falls well short (e.g., $50 or $75 a day). Basically, overspending on high-volume days is offset by underspending on slow days and the most you pay per month is still $3,040. If your campaign somehow spends $3,240, Google will credit $200 to your account the following month.

What is this going to mean for campaigns?

Ultimately, this change could have a positive impact on campaigns. Less rigid daily budgets allow advertisers to optimize campaign spending to the times it makes most sense – i.e., when there’s more relevant search volume. It’s like how retail stores make their schedules – they invest more heavily (pay more employees to work) on busy days and lower staff levels on days when business is expected to be slow.

The added flexibility could especially benefit multi-location brands, specifically those with limited budgets at the individual location level. Restrictive budgets often diminish an advertiser’s ability to capture all relevant search queries and garner enough clicks to perform to a historical average each day. And, when accounts are limited in the number of daily clicks they can purchase, campaigns are more prone to performance volatility.

Related – [Video]: Taking Control of Your Presence on Google

How big of an impact will this have?

It’s too soon to determine the total impact, but greater flexibility in daily budgeting could help stabilize overall spending and allow accounts to hit their monthly targets more accurately. One thing is for sure, it’ll be interesting to see how advertisers respond to the benefits that increased spending can bring to their AdWords accounts.

Who knows, it could lead to a lot of advertisers upping their Ads budgets. Which I’m sure Google will be OK with.

Mindstream Media Group is a Google Premier Partner. Connect with us to learn how we can help manage your paid search campaigns. 

The Best Way for Multi-Location Brands to Manage Local Business Data

Managing business information for individual locations is the foundation for any local digital marketing campaign. Updated and consistent location data ensures online users can find your brand’s storefronts, helps persuade consumers to visit your business rather than a competitor’s and improves the legitimacy of your business online to major search engines. If your online location data is inaccurate or inconsistent, consumers might get frustrated and take their business elsewhere, while search engines might get confused and rank your website lower in search results.

For brands with multiple brick-and-mortar locations, maintaining accurate and consistent local data can be as tedious and overwhelming as it is crucial; especially if you are dealing with hundreds or thousands of locations. Whether location data is managed at the corporate or franchise level, multi-location brands run into various obstacles that make it difficult to collect accurate and complete location data. A major reason this is so difficult is many large brands don’t have an all-inclusive database to house all of their location’s information, and if they do, it’s probably outdated. This could be due lack of resources at the corporate level or the sheer volume of individual locations.

The problem is even worse for brands with a decentralized structure who experience the same data issues but with the added obstacle of having multiple sources of information. Often, the data that corporate has on file for a location does not match the data that the location/franchise owner has. This poses a problem for consumers and search engines alike as it makes it difficult to decipher which location information to trust.

One way to navigate through these obstacles is to enlist the help of a digital marketing agency that specializes in enterprise-level brands. Not only do digital marketing agencies have their own database solution to store your brand’s location data, but enterprise-level agencies also have expertise in the digital space to manage location data at scale.

After an agency works with corporate/franchise owners to collect location data, they move to cleaning up the data so it can be used in marketing campaigns. This consists of ensuring the address information is accurate and filling in any missing information, such as incomplete hours of operation or missing suite numbers. Once the data is updated and compiled in a central database, it can be used to power a variety of marketing efforts. And, because this location data is already in the agency’s hands, it makes the process of launching a local digital campaign with that agency that much smoother.

Managing local data for multi-location brands

Data management advantages

Taking the time and effort to clean up and centralize your location data does pay off. Not only will your business have accurate data for internal use in one place, but it will also make launching marketing campaigns much easier.

Listings management

Having clean and accurate data is essential for listings management. The purpose of a listings management campaign is to ensure business data is accurate and consistent across the internet on any site that publishes local information (Google, Yelp, etc.). Therefore, if your location data is not accurate it could vary on different websites or may not even be allowed to be published at all. For instance, if your address is inconsistent with what the United States Postal Services (USPS) has on file, then Google most likely will not publish your local listing on their website. This is because Google looks at USPS address information to ensure that any listings published on their site are registered addresses.

Search engine optimization

Local data accuracy is also a factor when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). The intent of an SEO campaign, along with improving user experience, is to make it easier for search engines to understand what your website is about; and in turn, rank your website higher for relevant searches. Multi-location businesses have the unique factor of location data to consider when running an SEO campaign that other businesses don’t have to worry about. A major factor to earning those higher ratings is that the location data on your website, whether it be on a store locator page or individual location pages, matches the location data on other websites in the local search ecosystem. If the location information on your website doesn’t match the local listings sites (search engines, local directories, social media sites, etc.), then search engine crawlers will have a tough time determining which source is correct. Search engine ranking mechanisms are designed to devalue sources they suspect are wrong, meaning inconsistencies can and will negatively affect your organic rankings – not to mention confuse any users who come across both pieces of information.

Related – Moz Releases 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey

Paid campaigns

Pay per click (PPC) and display campaigns also benefit from properly managed location data. Local paid campaigns can use location data for keyword research and more importantly, improved targeting. For instance, if you wanted to target consumers within a 10-mile radius of their location but has incorrect latitude and longitude coordinates for that location, then the wrong audiences are going to see your ads, wasting both time and money for your business. Another example, Google offers location extensions for both search and display campaigns to highlight local information in your ads and drive local consumers to your business.

Related – [VIDEO]: Geo-fencing Drives Local Consumers to Your Location

Investing the time and brainpower to gather accurate location data from hundreds or thousands of locations can be an undesirable task. But once complete, it will deliver several long-term benefits for your brand. Data will be easily accessible through one database and will be ready to use whenever it’s needed for a variety of campaigns. It’s not a one-and-done errand though, local data management needs to be an ongoing exercise for multi-location brands as locations frequently change or move and as search engines collect information from other sources. But, if you or your digital agency can keep up with location updates, the initial loathsome process of cleaning up location data shouldn’t need to be repeated.

Need help managing local data for your brand? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn more about our data management and location services solutions.