Directional elements are simply ad formats and listings in which the user seeks your firm or category out. Think of these elements as demand delivery. In other words, directional resources deliver consumers who already know your firm by name (finders) or your category (searchers) and have a need for your product or service.
At the top of this group is Google. Since 2011, Google Places has morphed into Google+ (at least somewhat) and having all of your "directional" ad formats remains the number one local priority. Yet, I am still surprised to see so many firms with under optimized local listings and profile pages. I have written numerous columns on techniques for local listing optimization. However, I like Navneet Kaushal's article from last March as a quick read and primer on the topic; How to Optimize Your Business Page for Google+ Local.
Now, as we focus on integration, reliance on Google alone is unwise. When my firm looks at local listings optimization, we concern ourselves with between 300-500 local listing sites as a manner to optimize and align these local citations. Think of citations as an enjoiner that enables your listing to gain authority and position, much in the same way backlinks work(ed) for traditional SEO.
The key to citation formation and optimization is perfection in consistency. If even one character is different in two listings they can misalign, creating at best a missed opportunity and at worst a detriment to optimization. I recently had this happen with a local advertiser, because they had numerous directory listings that contained various treatments of their listing name. The end result is that local search engines were so confused that they often times displayed two listings for the same business, diluting the impact of the citations and relegating this advertiser to page three in the search results.
In summary on directional resources, make sure that all aspects of your NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) are consistent and identical across all of your local listings.
You would have to have been living in a cave not to have realized that social websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have changed forever how to market locally. In fact, many local advertisers focus on this area as their number one priority.
In my opinion, get "directional" right first and then make sure you are well developed in social. Tactics that have generated favorable results include Facebook's "Promote Page" campaigns that enable local businesses to develop a community and spur "likes" that enable the local business to engage over time with customers and prospects in a defined geography.
One limitation to recognize is that when undertaking this type of promotion, there will be community development and "Likes" created from consumers outside of your service delivery area, because friends of your audience also will receive ad/campaign exposure. Ironically, years ago I had tested a number of firms that promised to sell me Likes and the audience that was delivered were from eastern block countries that had little chance of ever buying a product or service from a local merchant. The Facebook option, however, delivers mostly local consumers my advertisers have a chance to sell to.
Additional tactics for consideration included the "boost" option for Facebook posts and Promoted Tweets on Twitter. Because of the limitation of my column length, I cannot delve nearly as deep as necessary to cover all of the options that social elements present. The one area that I continue to see as a limitation for most marketers is ratings and reviews, which I consider to be a social element. For more information on the importance of ratings and reviews, check out Ratings and Reviews - Your Largest Local Opportunity, Missed.
This is a top priority for marketers in 2014. And yet, we see folks delving into mobile advertising via enhanced campaigns through their Google AdWords programs and mobile network buys without a mobile optimized web presence.
The number one reason for increased bounce rate is driving mobile users into a traditional (non-mobile optimized) website experience. It is sort of like taking the trouble to translate all of your search marketing keywords, ad copy into 5-10 languages and then driving them to a single English language web page, just plain dumb. Here are a few tips for getting an optimized mobile user experience; Mobile Website or Please Read the Fine Print?
Once you have tackled this base-level requirement, activate the mobile options from your existing local campaign and then seek out the mobile specific networks that can drive leads and traffic to your business.
Getting your integrated local marketing plan right requires more than mastering just the directional resources that local listings, social & mobile provide. You have to give some thought to driving demand for your product or service. Traditional media like cable TV, radio & newspaper still have a role in creating need or demand. The online versions for demand creation are display and video ads. Increasingly, as advertisers have tapped out the existing desire for their products and services through search ads, mobile listings and social marketing, they have had to return to creating demand through more creative and visual formats.
The winners in 2014 understand the need for integrating both demand and directional elements to drive their lead generation and business building efforts. The key is having a well-developed multi-touch and multi-click attribution program to measure the impact, causality and assist in optimization across all marketing efforts. I will leave this topic to a future column when I have enough room to fully discuss this critical 2014 requirement.