Insights – The Pros and Cons of In-App Searches for National Brands


Most digital marketers for national brands understand the importance of engaging their audience at a local level. Marketers will usually select a combination of traditional websites, the mobile Web, and mobile apps to reach their goals. Implementing search marketing by listing local information within a business search app, however, isn’t always an obvious go-to.

While many national brands have general website contact pages that list outlet or franchise locations, search engine optimization (SEO) is of little benefit unless each location has its own contact page and related content — microsites within the main site. More than anything, making sure the business is found in searches is key, and savvy marketers will utilize dedicated mobile apps to generate comprehensive business listings.

According to a recent Balihoo and Gatepoint Research study, 77 percent of national brands now invest in local marketing, an increase of 11 percent from 2012. Given that mobile search has exceeded desktop search in 2015, engaging a receptive mobile audience is key to campaign success. It’s also worth noting that 80 percent of your digital audience owns a smartphone or portable device. This is why it makes sense to consider app search marketing when building a local campaign. This article will explore what makes dedicated mobile apps a viable alternative to traditional searches.

Why in-app business search works

While traditional promotional techniques are still used, it is mobility — with business-driving geolocation data — that encourages innovation and change in local marketing. Most U.S. citizens owning at least one smartphone or mobile device will use a business app to search for the nearest location if they need a service, dining solution, or product.

Enter the dedicated business search app. Let’s take the YP app as an example to highlight the pros of in-app listings:

  • With an engaged multi-platform audience of more than 70 million users each month, brands can reach a huge audience at a local level that includes not just residents, but also tourists and business travelers seeking products and services.
  • Listed businesses can include a wide range of information including, but not limited to: geolocation data, contact information, opening hours, and product or service information.
  • Features such as the nearest gas station and pricing are readily available and integration with other services such as Uber or Fandango are useful for most local consumers. This integration improves user experience and ensures regular use of the app, which is ideal for listed businesses.
  • Users can share their favorite businesses with others, read reviews and see photos
  • Users can utilize geolocation and maps to quickly find your business

Local business search app opportunities

Local apps are of great benefit to brands and are an ideal tool to link to other resources, whether on the Mobile Web or Internet. Best practices indicate that data availability in multiple formats is always advised. Therefore, savvy brands will also have a responsive website, social media campaigns and more that integrate with the app and provide more detailed information. The challenge for brands lies in managing the publication of local content for multiple locations. This is especially true for brands with a large number of locations.

Marketing for large brands at a local level is a little easier as the brand is already established and well recognized. The challenge lies is attracting local users and supplying pertinent information that will vary according to the business type.

In traditional Web searches, it is often difficult for national brands to succeed in local marketing against small businesses that focus their efforts on a specific city or region, as they will generate more locally-friendly content.

However, this is not true of a business search app, where users are more likely to favor a recognized brand from the displayed results.

The Verdict

In conclusion, mobility and geolocation go hand-in-hand. When it comes to mobile searches, a dedicated app is always more focused than search engine results. While it may not be possible to generate backlinks in mobile apps, these are of lesser importance, even for traditional search engines. Obviously, being mobile-friendly is essential for a growing audience of smartphone users who employ geolocation when shopping for products and services. Furthermore, app users with a desired brand in mind are simply seeking directions – why not guide them right to your door?

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