Brad Fagan is the Senior Insights Marketing Analyst at Uberall. Uberall helps global brands strengthen their "nearby" brand presence. They've worked with the likes of McDonald’s, DHL, Shell, Pizza Hut, BP, and dozens of other companies that have local businesses and franchises spread all over the world.
Recently, Brad put out a report called Creating a Successful Global Local Brand. This caught Garrett's attention, so he brought him in to talk a little more about the report and the strategy in general. He also happens to be a colleague of recently hired local search expert, Krystal Taing whom we interviewed on the podcast as well.
Overview of the Global Local Brand report
Brad says Creating a Successful Global Local Brand is a synthesis of months of work that consisted of over 20 interviews with marketing experts, heads of process management, heads of digital, and all sorts of different departments, including brand heads. Most of these were Uberall customers. Some were agency partners in the US.
"We talked about how they tackled the challenge of helping their enterprise customers. It's very representative of a lot of different ideas and thoughts. It's obviously, like the name suggests, leading towards the global brand analysis."
What did they find?
"Marketers generally don't know how to build a successful local strategy for their large multi-location brands, so we looked for solutions."
They jump in quickly with those solutions.
"Like first, getting your data accuracy right across all your locations, and what that means.
For instance, McDonald’s Germany looked at getting their opening hours correct because they don't really want someone standing outside their McDonald’s at 4:00 in the morning being really angry at them because they're closed when their GMB says they're open."
The second part?
"Reviews and social media. Local social media.
How do large global brands manage their individual social media and reviews? That's basically, in a nutshell, what it's about."
How business size impacts the power of listings and reputation management
"We've done several studies doing enterprise vs. SMBs. It's harder for large enterprise to manage their data accuracy and their reviews as well."
It's also a challenge for large companies to reply to reviews.
"In the UK only 0.2% were being replied to by global brands. In the US it was more along the lines of 20% or even close to 30%."
Brad says the innovations of the last decade have really given SMBs an edge in competing against large enterprises.
"We've done these studies that look at whether citations are still important, and we've looked at that against your typical enterprise brand.
And we see for instance that if an enterprise brand has all its location data accurate and consistent across all these directories they actually get a big bump in visibility and engagement and then the SMB, if they're applying, has a smaller engagement factor."
If they're on the main ones (Facebook, GMB, Apple Maps, Bings) they do get bumps in visibility.
"If they're applying to reviews they do get more engagement. You're not just replying to that one person.
You're replying to every single other person that comes there and wonders: why doesn't this business in this location that's near me, why haven't they replied to this customer that has a complaint that maybe I care about?
And that's really important as well for everybody that comes after."
How agencies can help clients with reputation management
What should an agency do if a customer comes and asks them how to get better reviews?
Brad says he gets this question all the time.
"This is something I've actually traditionally had a really tough time answering myself,"
He mentions he was on call recently with a gym chain in the UK whose owner was getting bad reviews, and who wanted to impact them in a positive way.
"You're saying all the same stuff. If you have all the contact details you can approach the ones that have already been leaving positive reviews.
You can go to them directly with some messaging saying: hey, you gave us really positive reviews, seems like we're doing a really good job. Would you like to give us one more review over here?"
He looks both at the global reviews and the local reviews.
"Looking at these, there's actually very different problems they have at the brand level. We've got this email that was asking for money, it's during Covid, and it's putting this really bad stress, and you guys are doing a really bad thing.
At the location level, it was this personal trainer or this direct point of contact being very rude."
"We can do everything on a location platform to help you solicit these. We can put it here. What Uberall does is [allow you to] consolidate all your reviews. You can look at them, you can reply to them."
"Replying to reviews is great. Offering solutions to the problem is great."
Of course, there are caveats.
"If you don't actually change the service at the location it doesn't mean anything. So what we tell them is, yeah, we can provide the technology, and we can provide the digital expertise, but you have to actually provide a good service at the location, at the point of sale, or at the point of interaction with your customers."
He says Covid has caused a lot of people to get a lot savvier about the relationship between the digital world and the offline world.
Ultimately, there has to be some mechanism for getting problems fixed.
"If you're an agency, if you're replying to the reviews, at least pass it along to the in-store person who is actually managing the day-to-day, the consistent problems the clients or customers are having, so the location manager knows in order to change it.
It's no good just replying to all these reviews. You actually have to have that aligned with the in-store experience."
He also recommends that enterprises allow their location manager to read and reply to reviews.
"The reason why is they can not only promise to solve the problem, but they can actually deliver on it.
It can be the same person that actually says to the customer: I'm really sorry you had that experience. I'm willing to do this for you. Come to me the next time you're in the store. That's what the local approach and local feel is for people.
They want to know the person who is actually listening is going to be the person that at the end of the day is delivering the solution to the problem."
He warns against using cookie-cutter, stock answer replies.
"It has to be something deep, nuanced, contextual."
He says if the responses are nuanced and contextual, customers will often give the business another chance.
He also notes you should remember you're not just replying to the one customer.
"You're replying to everyone who's coming after. They can see the personality of the local business based on those replies."
Online reviews and SERPs
Brad also points out that reviews are having a huge impact on SERPs.
"If I type in: cocktails in San Francisco? What actually pops up is a list of GMB profiles that actually have the reviews most relevant to my search. Then they all say involved best service, best whatever. So then you can use reviews in a multitude of different ways."
He says this information can help you get buy-in from the location managers so they actually prioritize reviews.
"Prove the value of the initiative. Why our reviews are valuable. Why our citations and listings are valuable. They're foundational.
Reviews are becoming more important to SERPs, Google is using them to provide more trust factors, using them in more interesting and thoughtful ways to provide context on the business."
Frameworks for success with global, local marketing
Brad helped to create a model for success.
The first step in that model?
"Communication flows. From the top down: global, regional, local level, then from local to regional to global. How you organize that. The stakeholders you get involved."
The second point is the MarTech solutions you use for that.
"What's the tech stack look like? What's it actually doing? Are you using it? It's a very simple thought in the report, but two or three of the main contributors basically said: either you do it or you don't do it.
Don't utilize 10%, use it 100%. If you're going to choose a tool, use the tool."
He says that sourcing the right technologies is also key.
"And that technology is a single source of truth. For instance, this is a communication between empowering the location manager or owner to actually you know use a system or a technology to actually update their local information quickly within ten minutes.
For example, as McDonald's Germany said, they needed an in-house tool where they could do daily updates of all 1500 store locations across Germany. This required empowering their location managers a little bit because they know their store better than anyone. They know what changes are happening quicker than anyone.
Obviously, as an agency, you can get that information too."
The party platform at Uberall spreads that information across over 130 plus different directories, search engines, and review sites.
Are local citations still valuable?
Brad went to the data to answer that question once and for all.
"We've done two different studies on that now. The first one was 1500 locations and the second one is going to be broader. So first of all we did a study last year, a Boston study, where we analyzed 73,000 locations in the Boston metro area.
All we wanted to know was: do they have accurate citations on just 3 platforms: Google, Bing, and Yelp. We found that only 4% of the locations we analyzed had complete and accurate listings on just those three platforms."
Did it matter?
"We took out a section of 15,000 locations and we looked at the 105 least accurate of locations vs. the 10% most accurate. A very broad-spectrum analysis.
What we saw as when we manage visibility across that, the likelihood of showing up in the 3-pack and the number of impressions you get.
The top 10% most accurate and consistent locations had 18 times the visibility that the bottom 10% had. This is at least a high-level proof that there is some correlation."
He says you don't need hundreds of citations though. The data shows there's a "sweet spot," something between 30 to 39 directories. Brad says they haven't found which 30 to 39 matter the most yet. He does mention that Apple Maps is a lot more important than people are giving it credit for being.
He says service categories do matter as much as NAP information.
"What are your products and services? What categories are you in? What do you actually provide? There's one customer we have that's a petrol station. When you're searching gas stations, gas station near me? Do they come up if you search a car wash name? Do they come up if you search coffee or groceries?
They do all these things as well. It's about structuring services and products as well as having that traditional foundational NAP."
What’s your right now cause?
Brad has two causes. The first is Amnesty International.
"I think human rights are a big deal at the moment. I think everyone should think about the work they do, not just in the US but abroad, but definitely with Covid trying to help out some of the poorest people in a lot of countries."
The second is a documentary that Brad is working on that he's only now researching, on dating apps.
"Women are very vulnerable on these dating apps. We need to be more educated on the impact of sexual assault and sexual violence perpetrated online as well as offline.
I know many women who have been a victim of this. Educate yourself, pay attention, and try ones giving power to the female aspect of things."
Bumble is one app that Brad sites as a good example. It allows the woman to be the one to make contact and prevents men from doing so until the woman reaches out.
"It's not a universal solution to these types of problems, but it's a cultural issue, it's an educational issue for a lot of men, also a lot of women."
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