On Thursday, Dustin Hayes and I hosted a webinar entitled "Navigating the Pandemic: Local Marketing Strategies During COVID-19." Thanks to all who attended; if you didn't have a chance to attend or register for the webinar, you can still sign up to get the recording by clicking here.
As a brief recap, the webinar was divided into three subject areas. First, we discussed some of the key findings in Brandify's study of pandemic search trends using Insights data from Google My Business. The full study can be found on Street Fight. Essentially, the study shows that during March and April, the first two months of the pandemic, consumer search traffic shifted dramatically toward searching from home and calling the business or visiting the business website instead of requesting driving directions. Losses in traffic for verticals like restaurants and hotels were offset by significant gains by pharmacy, hardware, grocery, and financial services.
The second section of the webinar focused on changes in local search platforms to help businesses showcase modified offerings during the pandemic, such as pickup and delivery and availability of in-store services. Google has been the most active in providing new options for businesses, but Yelp and other platforms have also launched new features such as special messaging and attributes designed to highlight virtual appointments and consultations.
We concluded with a section about the gradual reopening of businesses that began a few weeks ago, highlighting a new foot traffic study from Foursquare that demonstrates week-over-week increases in visits to clothing retailers, hotels, bars, and other verticals that were heavily impacted in the early phase of the pandemic.
We also cited a study from the International Council of Shopping Centers which shows that, in order for consumers to feel safe to come back to stores and shop, they need to know that retailers have implemented stringent hygiene measures and practices that encourage social distancing.
And we noted that safety procedures must be communicated clearly in order for them to be effective. Local search profiles must be updated to reflect store reopenings, increased hours, modified services, and safety practices.
In order to help communicate these changes, we created a Local Search Communication Matrix which we reproduce below.