Customer experience (CX) has become a key differentiator and driver of success in the realm of online marketing. CX refers to every interaction a customer has with a business, across all touchpoints and channels. With rising customer expectations, CX is now essential for building loyalty, retention and advocacy.
This focus on CX is profoundly impacting local marketing, redefining strategies both online and offline. Local customers expect seamless omnichannel experiences, hyper-personalization, and meaningful brand interactions. Meeting these customer demands requires data-driven insights and carefully orchestrated CX across all customer journeys.
On the digital front, local marketers must optimize for critical channels like mobile, local SEO, online review sites and social media engagement. Offline, the in-store experience remains vital and should connect to online interactions. Experiential events and activations can further enhance CX. Ultimately, CX in local marketing now requires 24/7 efforts spanning both online and offline channels to deliver personalized, relevant experiences.
With CX emerging as a key competitive advantage, local businesses must reorient their marketing to create end-to-end experiences tailored to their customers’ needs and preferences. Companies that transform their strategies to provide exceptional CX will be best positioned to attract and retain local customers in today’s omnichannel environment.
Why CX is Vital to Local Marketing’s Omnichannel Landscape
Today’s local marketing environment is defined by omnichannel experiences. Customers engage with brands across many different touchpoints, both online and offline. Their purchasing journeys switch fluidly between digital devices, brick-and-mortar stores, customer service channels, and more.
Customer experience (CX) is the connective tissue that holds omnichannel strategies together. CX ensures that no matter how or where customers interact with a local business, they receive a consistently positive, seamless, and personalized experience.
Without CX serving as the foundation, omnichannel falls apart. Disjointed messaging, product/pricing discrepancies between channels, and fragmented data will frustrate customers. This leads to churn, damages the brand, and dilutes marketing ROI across channels.
By placing CX at the core of omnichannel initiatives, local marketers can choreograph highly relevant experiences across the entire customer journey. Key omnichannel CX capabilities like order online pickup in-store (BOPIS), loyalty programs, CRM data, and personalized promotions all help tie channels together.
How to Use CX to Enhance Local Marketing
Delivering a positive CX is crucial for effective local marketing. For any customer these days, they want convenience, personalization, and responsiveness in all their online interactions with a brand.
Convenience involves making things easy and removing friction points. This includes having an informative website, online appointment booking, and options like buy-online-pickup-in-store. Personalization means using data insights to tailor offers and messages to each customer. Responsiveness means addressing customer queries and feedback quickly across channels.
There are several ways businesses can act on these CX principles to enhance local marketing:
Optimize Online Listings
Ensure your Google My Business, Apple Maps, and other listings are completely filled out with hours, location info, photos, and service options. This makes you easy to find and research. For example, a local coffee shop could add photos of their menu items, their staff, and their interior to their Google My Business listing. This would help potential customers get a better sense of what the coffee shop is like and what they can expect when they visit.
Share posts, videos, and stories that connect with your audience. This content should entertain, educate, or inspire people. Infuse it with your brand personality. For example, a local clothing store could share photos of their latest fashion arrivals, or videos of their staff giving styling tips. This would help to keep their audience engaged and interested in their brand.
Respond to Reviews
Reply to customer reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Thank them or apologize as needed, and show you listen and care. This nurtures customer relationships. For example, a local restaurant could respond to a negative review by thanking the customer for their feedback and offering to make things right. This would show that the restaurant is committed to providing a positive customer experience.
Make your website and content easily accessible on smartphones. This smooths the researching and buying journey. For example, a local furniture store could make their website mobile-friendly so that customers can easily browse their products and make purchases from their phones.
Run contests and sweepstakes via social media. This builds awareness and gets customers engaged with your brand. For example, a local spa could run a contest on Instagram where users can enter to win a free massage. This would help to increase brand awareness and get people talking about the spa on social media.
Examples of Local Businesses Successfully Using Customer Experience to Improve Their Marketing
The Cheesecake Factory – This restaurant chain has mastered social media marketing by sharing gorgeous photos of their extensive menu items. They spark customers’ appetite and joy by posting recipes, food styling tips, and behind-the-scenes kitchen views. This engages followers and gets them excited to visit and order.
- Texas Roadhouse – This casual steakhouse runs frequent Instagram contests asking followers to post photos of their food using a branded hashtag for a chance to win a gift card. This builds awareness and gives their marketing a boost from user-generated content.
- Great Clips – This hair salon has placed online check-in and appointment booking front and center on their website and apps. Customers can conveniently book, modify or cancel appointments 24/7. This convenience helps drive traffic and loyalty.
- Hollywood Feed – This pet store sends abandoned cart emails if customers don’t complete an online purchase. The friendly tone and discount offer provide a personalized nudge that helps capture lost sales.
- Verizon – This telecom company actively monitors social channels for complaints and questions. Their team jumps in to resolve issues quickly and publicly to improve brand sentiment. Their responsiveness aims to smooth out customer journeys.
No matter the industry, businesses are using principles of convenience, personalization and responsiveness to shape positive CX. In turn, this CX boosts their local marketing and helps build lasting customer relationships.
Key Ways Customer Experiences Redefine Local Marketing Online and Off
Local businesses across industries are actively shaping CX to drive better marketing results. By applying key CX principles such as convenience, personalization, and responsiveness, companies are seeing increased engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. To illustrate, here are a few examples of how you can use CX elements to enhance their marketing:
Focus on Personalization
Gather data and insights: Local marketers need to gather data and insights about their customers in order to personalize their experiences. This data can be collected from a variety of sources, such as customer surveys, website analytics, and social media data.
Craft targeted messaging and offers: Once local marketers have collected data about their customers, they can use this data to craft targeted messaging and offers. This means sending messages that are relevant to the customer’s interests and needs. For example, a local coffee shop could send a targeted email offer to customers who have purchased a certain type of coffee in the past.
Connect online and offline channels: Local marketers need to connect online and offline channels so customers can transition effortlessly. This means linking online and in-store promotions, enabling options like buy-online-pickup-in-store, and providing consistent messaging. For example, a local clothing store could allow customers to order online and pick up their purchase in-store.
Provide a seamless experience: Local marketers need to provide a seamless experience across all channels. This means that customers should be able to start a transaction online and finish it in-store, or vice versa. For example, a local restaurant could allow customers to order food online and then pick it up at the restaurant.
Focus on mobile search: Local marketers need to focus on mobile search in order to reach customers who are using their smartphones to find businesses. This means optimizing their website and online listings for mobile devices.
Local SEO: Local marketers also need to focus on local SEO in order to improve their visibility in search results for local businesses. This means optimizing their website and online listings for keywords that are relevant to their business and location.
Develop mobile apps: Local marketers may also want to consider developing mobile apps. This can be a great way to provide customers with a convenient and personalized experience.
Improve load times: Local marketers also need to improve the load times of their website and online listings. This is important for mobile users, as they are more likely to abandon a website if it takes too long to load.
Social Media Engagement
Promote engagement opportunities: Local marketers should promote engagement opportunities on social media. This could include things like check-ins, reviews, visual content, and social contests.
Create a community: Local marketers should strive to create a community around their brand on social media. This means engaging with customers and providing them with a platform to share their experiences.
Focus on Review Sites
Monitor reviews: Local marketers need to monitor reviews on review sites like Yelp and Google My Business. This is important in order to identify any potential problems and address them promptly.
Respond promptly: Local marketers should respond promptly to reviews, both positive and negative. This shows that they are committed to providing a positive customer experience.
Encourage customer reviews: Local marketers should encourage customers to leave reviews on review sites. This can help to improve their visibility and credibility on these sites.
Host local events: Local marketers can host local events to connect with customers and create a memorable experience. This could include things like pop-ups, sampling, and interactive brand activities.
Provide sampling: Local marketers can provide sampling to customers at events or in-store. This is a great way to introduce customers to new products or services.
Create interactive experiences: Local marketers can create interactive experiences for customers. This could include things like virtual reality experiences or augmented reality experiences.
Ultimately, customer experience is redefining local marketing in the modern omnichannel environment. Customers expect seamless, personalized interactions across digital and physical touchpoints. By focusing on convenience, personalization, responsiveness and actively managing CX, local businesses can boost their marketing effectiveness.
Optimizing online listings, engaging social media, promptly resolving complaints, and other CX-driven tactics help attract and retain happy customers. With rising competition, CX represents a key opportunity for differentiation. Customers overwhelmingly flock to brands that make them feel valued, understood, and satisfied. By placing CX at the heart of marketing strategies, local businesses can build meaningful relationships with customers, fuel growth and stand out against rivals. Delivering end-to-end tailored experiences will be the key to local marketing success.