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The Biggest Challenges Multi-Location Brands Will Face in 2024

 

It’s hard to believe, but 2024 is right around the corner. As a marketer, planning for the new year is likely on your radar. From what to expect regarding artificial intelligence (AI) to understanding potential developments in search and social, there’s a lot to consider. 

 

That’s where this blog comes in! At SOCi, we realize that it’s challenging to keep a pulse on the latest in digital marketing, especially for multi-location brands managing 100s to 1,000s of business locations. 

 

To help, we held a recent webinar “What’s Next in 2024: Top Multi-Location Marketing Trends” with Clicks 2 Bricks host Rob Reed and SOCi Director of Market Insights Damian Rollison. SOCi Enterprise Solutions Director, Bobby Ferla, moderated the webinar. All three discussed what’s on the horizon for multi-location marketers.

 

 

A black and green CTA with white text and the SOCi logo promoting our webinar on what marketer's can expect in 2024

 

We’ll break down the top findings from the conversation and share other insights we gathered from sitting down with Rollison himself. Let’s get into it! 

 

1. Local Search Will Change With the Development of AI 

 

One of the most highly anticipated changes that should be on your radar for 2024 is a new spin on local search. Some of the changes are already happening. Take Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE)

 

A list from Google on what SGE is and what it allows users to do.

 

 

Here’s a short video Google released on SGE that gives you a better understanding of what it’ll look like. SGE makes search a companion and assistant that provides users with a “choose your own adventure” experience. 

 

 

 

What does this mean for multi-location marketers? Rollison explained that while Google has yet to reveal how and when SGE will be rolled out more widely, it’s something we can expect in 2024. One of the most significant impacts this could have on marketers is on rankings and overall search engine optimization (SEO). 

 

So, what might SGE mean for local SEO? 

  • A different algorithm for ranking organic and local results, perhaps favoring granular content matched to queries (relevance) over proximity and other factors?
  • An evolution away from the 3-Pack?
  • More prominence granted to certain third-party sources, possibly helping Google to avoid anti competitive accusations

 

Although we don’t have the final answers, we do know that SGE results vary from Google’s traditional search engine results page (SERP). It’s worth reviewing how your business currently ranks in relevant searches for SGE. If you’re not appearing how you’d like, there’s no reason to ring the alarm bells yet, but it’s something to be mindful of. 

 

There are numerous tools your brand can leverage to stay updated on the latest in local search. For instance, SOCi’s weekly Local Memo breaks down the latest localized marketing news and often covers breaking news in local search. Additionally, publications like Search Engine Journal have already been covering this topic more in-depth. 

 

2. Meta Will Bring Changes to Social With Meta AI

 

As you’d expect, advancements in AI will also bring changes to social media. With Facebook still being the most popular social media platform and Meta also owning Instagram and Messenger, it’s essential to keep an eye on what they’re planning for 2024. 

 

Meta has already started rolling out some ways for marketers to use AI within the platform, and this will only continue to build next year. 

 

For instance, Meta AI is a chatbot assistant now in beta testing. According to Meta, Meta AI is “an assistant you can chat with 1-on-1 or message in group chats. It can make recommendations in a pinch, make you laugh when you need a good joke, settle a debate in a group chat, and generally be there to answer questions or teach you something new.” 

 

A GIF highlighting Meta's chatbot assistant and how it works

 

 

While Meta hasn’t announced when it’ll fully roll out Meta AI across the United States, it’s essential to keep an eye out for it. As mentioned, Facebook is the largest social media platform, and a tool like Meta AI can change how people use generative AI. 

 

As consumers get more familiar with generative AI and how it works, there will likely be more pressure on businesses to start providing better customer experiences with the help of AI. 

 

For instance, if your brand doesn’t have a chatbot feature on its site, that’s something to consider. Additionally, as people understand how generative AI can boost creativity, your brand can highlight how it’s using AI technology, not just on Meta but throughout your marketing strategies. 

 

It’s also worth noting that while Meta AI might be a game-changer for social media, there are other AI functionalities that Meta has added and will continue to add that are important to understand. Take Meta Advantage, for example, a suite of tools that uses machine learning to automate elements of an ad campaign. 

 

Find ways your brand can leverage Meta Advantage to improve your ad strategy by reading the platform’s guide on the topic

 

3. AI Growth Brings a Need to Streamline Processes and Consolidate Your MarTech

 

As marketers adopt AI and incorporate AI into their marketing strategies, new challenges will arise. For instance, if you’re not using a marketing technology (MarTech) tool that is adept at AI and can navigate the AI transformation journey, you may risk falling behind competitors using technology that does. 

 

Similarly, suppose you’re using several MarTech tools to execute different aspects of your marketing efforts with AI. In that case, they’re likely unable to cross-reference each other to build and improve. 

 

For example, if you’re using one tool with AI technology to monitor reviews and another to draft review responses, they should be able to communicate. Additionally, if you’re using a chatbot tool that includes AI, wouldn’t it be nice for the voice and tone used in the chatbot to extend over to social media or review responses? 

 

Are there tools you can consolidate to make this cross-communication process easier? It’s important to evaluate vendors based on their expertise, support services, and the ability to integrate AI solutions seamlessly into existing marketing workflows. 

 

Often, consolidation can make your marketing team much more efficient, and it’s crucial to consider going into 2024. 

 

For more help on choosing the right MarTech solution for your multi-location brand, download our CMO’s Planning Guide to Navigating AI Transformation in 2024

 

 

Banner call-to-action CTA for the CMO planning guide with a icon image of a woman holding a phone and a green and black background with a blue download button.

 

 

4. People are Writing Less Reviews, Turning to Social

 

Another metric to watch in 2024 is your reputation management and the volume of reviews across business locations. Data from our 2023 Local Visibility Index, previously known as the Localized Marketing Benchmark Report, found that, on average, consumers are writing fewer reviews — down from an average of 224 in 2022 to 179 in 2023 on Google Business Profiles. 

 

Reviews can provide your business with insightful information about how consumers are experiencing your brand. They highlight positive and negative interactions, giving your business an inside look into the minds of consumers. 

 

However, if reviews are decreasing, what does this mean for your business? 

 

First and foremost, the decline of reviews further emphasizes the need for your brand to respond to the reviews it receives. We found that 87%  of consumers are willing to change a negative review, depending on how the business responds. Additionally, data from our State of Google Reviews research report revealed that for every 25% of reviews responded to, the conversion of Google profiles improves by 4.1%.

 

 

A CTA for SOCi's State of Google Reviews Research Report

 

 

The need to respond to reviews doesn’t diminish, even if review volume does. What this may lead to is the need for your business to rethink some of the ways it promotes its products and services. 

 

For example, instead of leaving a review, many consumers will turn to social media to discuss their thoughts on a product or service. Think about all of the videos you see on TikTok or Instagram where someone is reviewing a product. 

 

An example of a man on Instagram reviewing noodles he's trying in Austin

 

While this can often happen organically, your business should consider influencer marketing or leveraging brand advocates to share content about your brand on these social platforms. Find out how to leverage influencer marketing and brand advocates by reviewing our blog on the topic.

 

Additionally, your brand can get creative with how it promotes its products and services. During the webinar, Reed highlights examples of Walmart posting fun and engaging content at the local level. 

 

When creating local social media content stop and think, would this catch my attention? If not, it’s time to reevaluate. 

 

5. Third Party Cookies Will Continue to Disappear

 

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that third-party cookies will continue to disappear in 2024. Google recently released a timeline for the phasing out of third-party cookie support in Chrome. Third-party cookies will be disabled for 1% of Chrome users globally starting in early 2024, with a complete phase-out scheduled for completion by the end of Q3 in the same year. 

 

Before we dive deeper, let’s quickly review the difference between first and third-party cookies. 

 

    A blue background with white text in a t-chart explaining the differences between third and first party cookies

     

    One of the main differences is that first-party cookies only track the domain you visited. In contrast, third-party cookies are more widely accessible and typically used for advertising. 

     

    While first-party cookies aren’t going away, the shift away from third-party cookies will likely cause a significant disruption in the digital advertising industry.

     

    Many multi-location brands use third-party cookies to collect information about their consumers to target and retarget consumers through advertising. Research has found that 83% of marketers rely on data collected by third-party cookies to drive their marketing strategies.

     

    As a multi-location brand, you must:

    1. Familiarize yourself further with third-party cookies and online advertising
    2. Audit your cookie usage now and make necessary changes.
    3. Consider alternative ways your brand can get information typically gained through third-party cookies. 

     

    For instance, your brand could leverage surveys to start collecting its own first-party data rather than relying on third-party cookies. 

     

    Check out our guide, Survey Secrets: The Multi-Location Marketer’s Guide to Boosting Customer Experience and Online Reputation, to learn how to incorporate surveys into your marketing strategy effectively. 

     

     

    Green and black CTA for our Survey Secrets long-form guide

     

     

    Get Ahead on Your 2024 Goals

     

    2024 will be a year full of changes and advancements for marketers. Do yourself a favor and prepare for the new year immediately. While some of the challenges mentioned in this blog may seem daunting, SOCi is here to help every step of the way! 

     

    Not only will we help you navigate the latest changes in digital marketing, but we also have a tool to help execute a winning localized marketing strategy. 

     

    SOCi is the CoMarketing Cloud for multi-location enterprises and provides one central place to scale and automate your marketing efforts. From managing local listings to local social media efforts to reputation management including surveys and beyond, SOCi has you covered. 

     

    We also support the development of AI through SOCi Genius, an automation layer that we’re adding to our tools to help make marketers’ lives easier. 

     

    For instance, Genius Reviews, which utilizes OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology to create unique, authentic review responses at scale, helps brands deliver personalized messages to clients more efficiently while maintaining a consistent brand voice.

     

    Genius-Reviews-suggested-reviews

     

    For additional insight into how SOCi can help your multi-location brand crush its 2024 goals, request a demo today!

     

     

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    Darcy Bickham

    As SOCi’s Content Marketing Manager, Darcy Bickham specializes in creating the strategy and developing the content around both localized and digital marketing trends for the SOCi brand. Through her content writing, Darcy has helped to position SOCi as the marketing platform for multi-location brands.

    Learn how SOCi can help take your
    localized marketing to the next level.