Aimee Costello, Localistico: Local marketing, post-COVID retail and going digital

A shop sign that says 'local'.
Aimee Costello, Localistico: Local marketing, post-COVID retail and going digital
Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

Could you tell us a little bit about Localistico and what it does?

Localistico is a local marketing SAS provider. So, essentially, any kind of company that has a physical location, we help them to market that physical location to their customers. We help them to manage digital representations of those physical locations. 

So if you went to a new city and you want to find a coffee shop, what you normally do is just pick the phone up and Google ‘coffee shop near me’. And then you would find one that has good reviews and cute pictures and tells you about the speciality coffee. And you would then ask for directions, walk there, arrive and then maybe leave a review.

That’s kind of the basics. So we help big retail chains manage lots of locations in that way to get all the information on those digital platforms, and then help market to those customers.

I know the pandemic threw a spanner in the works for a lot of companies and a lot of plans were put on hold. But what have you guys been doing lately? Are the wheels in motion with your plans again?

Yeah, exactly. Obviously, we work with people with physical locations, and they were badly affected by the COVID situation. But it’s been interesting, because before COVID, there was a lot of chat about the death of physical retail. But actually what we’ve realised is nobody wants to sit inside their home and just order mindlessly from Amazon. People do still want to go to physical places. 

The US is a little bit further ahead of us in Europe but we’ve seen that there’s actually 20% more monthly retail sales now than there was pre-COVID. So we’re seeing a growth in those kind of physical retail areas. And that’s an opportunity for our clients to capture those people who are excited to be out and about again. And that’s also helped us to work with new people. 

We also see that, from our customers, there’s a lot of excitement about digitisation. There’s been a lot of talk about it in the industry for a while. And what we saw is that COVID meant the retailers, especially retailers that have lots and lots of locations, are really looking into local marketing and trying to make it better, more automated and more digitised. And we think that’s a really big opportunity for us. We’re seeing a lot of interest in what we do from those kind of retailers across the globe.

What is the situation with local marketing? Are you seeing any particular trends appearing there?

It’s quite interesting. Local marketing is kind of a new area. Because if you think about the people who work in e-com marketing, they’ve had kind of 10 or 15 years of really innovative digital solutions. And the speed that people can market their website in is kind of incredible and very dynamic. 

And the change we’re seeing now is actually from the platforms that work in local marketing. So think of the big ones – your Googles, your Facebook, your Apple, a couple of others like Foursquare and Yelp – those kind of platforms. They’re really looking at making that local marketing able to happen at the same speed as digital. So they’re actually bringing out loads of new ways that retailers can market to their customers. 

So your Google and Facebook are doing local posts. Google has geo targeted ads. All those kinds of things make it an exciting area with regards to what’s happening. And I think it’s moving away from the traditional posters in your store or out of home billboards and making it digital, and we think that’s really interesting. And we think that’s a really exciting place, and the best retailers are going to be the ones who take advantage of those new tools.

Why do you think marketers should think about including local marketing in their strategy? And is it something that would work for all companies? 

I would say that everybody should be looking at local marketing. Google has done some research, which found that one in three searches on a mobile phone is the user looking for a place near themself. And of those searches, 75% of them end up with the person going into a store. So these are just customers walking about the highstreet with money in their hands that they’re looking to spend. That’s totally different from people just browsing online. How many times do you go on to a website to look at a pair of shoes or a t-shirt? But you’re just looking, right? 

With local marketing, we’re talking about people in the real world who are looking to go and do something. So there’s a big cohort of people that companies can capture. For me, if you have a physical store and you’re not doing local marketing or not taking it seriously I think that you’re missing out on a big portion of customers who are looking for you. You’re not having to market to them. They’re looking for you. You just need to be there with your best face on – a really good profile, the correct photos, speaking to your customers, responding to reviews etc – and those customers will come.

What’s your opinion on the importance of omnichannel marketing?

I think omnichannel is the way forward. In marketing circles, we’ve talked about omnichannel across the board for a long time. What we’ve seen is that the retailers that are taking omnichannel seriously are winning. They’re attracting more customers.

With omnichannel, what you’re really trying to do is create the same experience for your customers whether they’re searching for you and buying online, or they’ve gone into your store to make a purchase, or they’ve had something delivered to their home, or even finding something online and opting to click and collect. These are journeys we’ve all been on. Any retailer that can make those connections seamless, beautiful and easy, that’s a real omnichannel experience. It shouldn’t be harder to know what’s in your local store than it is to go online and get it delivered.

That omnichannel journey is also really important for immediacy. We’re used to Amazon bringing us something th next day, which is great. But sometimes you need something that same day and you can go and pick it up from the local store. 

It’s important for retailers to think about how they can care for their customers and give them a joyful experience when they’re going through these journeys.

What advice would you give to marketers who are trying to improve their omnichannel approach?

Consider local marketing as a revenue driver, and I think that’ll change the way they think about local marketing. A lot of retailers take their online brand very seriously with social media, for example. But then they don’t display their opening hours, they don’t have nice photos of their stores. So they’re missing out on one of the most important touchpoints of a consumer’s journey before they even get to an e-com site. That’s a really basic thing and every retailer needs to get that basic stuff sorted. 

Once you’re thinking about local marketing as a revenue driver then you can start doing some of the more exciting things. So Facebook and Google posts, local ads, messages, replying to reviews. A Deloitte report found that about half of consumers take reviews into account before they buy anything so if you’re not replying to your reviews on Google and Facebook then those people don’t want to buy from you.

I think that omnichannel, local marketing thing is a really big piece of the pie. So not doing these things will make it harder for retailers to achieve their revenue goals.

Hear more from Aimee Costello at DMWF North America West 2021, where she will be taking part in a fireside chat titled ‘The rise of local marketing and the inception of a true omnichannel experience’.

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