Aimee Costello: Local marketing, post-COVID retail and going digital
On the 21st of September, Marketing Tech News featured our Chief Operations Officer, Aimee Costello. During this conversation with Duncan Macrae, Aimee spoke about Localistico, Local Marketing, current trends and omnichannel strategies. Take a look at what was said.
Could you tell us a little bit about Localistico and what it does?
Localistico is a local marketing SAS provider. So, essentially, for any company that has a physical location, we help them market that physical location to their customers. We also help them manage digital representations of those physical locations.
When you go to a new city and want to find a coffee shop, what you normally do is just pick your mobile up and Google “coffee shop near me”. Then you find one that has good reviews and cute pictures and tells you about the speciality coffee. You ask for directions, walk there, arrive, and then maybe leave a review.
That’s just the basics. So, we help big retail chains manage multiple locations and ensure all the relevant information is on those digital platforms. We also help market to their potential 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?
Yes, absolutely. 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’s been made apparent is nobody wants to sit inside their home and just order mindlessly from Amazon. People 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. We’re seeing growth in physical retail areas. That’s an opportunity for our clients to capture those people who are excited to be out and about again. It’s also allowing us to work with new people.
We see that, among our customers, there’s real excitement about digitisation. It’s been a major topic of conversation in the industry for a while. And what we saw with COVID was that retailers, especially retailers with a large stable of locations, were really looking into local marketing and trying to make it better, more automated and more digitised. We clearly think that’s a huge opportunity for us. We’re seeing a lot of interest in what we do from those kinds 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 somewhat of a new area. If you think about the people who work in e-com marketing, they’ve had roughly 10 to 15 years of really innovative digital solutions. Now, the speed at which people can market their website is incredible and very dynamic.
The change we’re witnessing now is actually being led by the platforms that work in local marketing. Think of the big ones: your Google, your Facebook, your Apple, a couple of others like Foursquare and Yelp, those kind of platforms. They’re aiming to make local marketing move at the same speed as digital. So, they’re bringing out loads of new ways that retailers can market to their customers.
So, for instance, Google and Facebook are doing local posts. Google also has geo-targeted ads. All those innovations make local marketing an exciting area right now. We’re moving away from the traditional posters in your store or out-of-home billboards, and fully turning to digital. That’s really interesting. We feel marketing has evolved to an exciting stage, 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 research, which found that one in three searches on a mobile phone is the user looking for a place in their vicinity. And of those searches, 75% of them end up with the person going into a store. These are just customers walking about the high street with money in their hands, looking to spend. That’s totally different from people browsing online. How often 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 focusing on people in the real world who are actively looking to go and do something. That’s a significant cohort of people that companies can capture. If you have a physical store and you’re not doing local marketing or not taking it seriously, 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 well-maintained profile, the correct photos, open communication with customers, responsiveness 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’re seeing now is that the retailers who have taken 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 no matter how they shop. 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 they’ve even found something online and opted 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 the next day, which is great. But sometimes you need something that same day. With a local retailer, you can go and pick it up from the nearest store.
Retailers should always be thinking about how they can care for their customers and give them an enjoyable experience when they’re going through these journeys.
What advice would you give to marketers who are trying to improve their omnichannel approach?
When you understand that local marketing can be a revenue driver, that’ll change how you think about it. A lot of retailers take their online brand very seriously with social media, for example. But then they don’t display their opening hours, and 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. It seems like such a basic thing, but every retailer needs to get the basics sorted.
Once you’re thinking about local marketing as a revenue driver, you can start doing some of the more exciting things: Facebook and Google posts, local ads, instant messaging, replying to reviews. A Deloitte report found that about half of all consumers take reviews into account before they buy anything. This means that if you’re not staying on top of your reviews on Google and Facebook and taking the time to reply to them, people won’t want to buy from you.
Going forward, omnichannel and local marketing will be a massive piece of the pie. So, not utilizing them will make it harder for retailers to achieve their revenue goals.
COO with over 10 years experience working with Retail & Marketing teams in companies such as Channel, Allsaints & Betfair. Member of executive management, she is currently in charge of overseeing the daily operations of Localistico, as well as leading strategic initiatives and successfully maintaining and driving operational results within the company. Having lived in the UK, Spain as well as worked with brands from all across the globe, she is an expert in finance & strategic operations.