Recently, Google released an update to its “Popular Times” feature, providing real-time updates for a location’s busiest times of day, allowing users to find out how crowded a local businesses is before making the decision to visit. The updated “Popular Times” data, provides users with general estimates of a location’s wait time with summaries like, “Not too busy” or “Usually a little busy,” per 20 minute period. Under a bar graph detailing peak times of day, there is a “Plan your visit” statement, with a time range in which people usually stay at the location (e.g., “People typically spend 20 min here”).
Now, just a few months later, Google has rolled out another real-time feature via Google Maps that allows people to factor in the length of time it will take to find parking at their destination into their overall travel time. The feature comes in the form of a “parking difficulty icon” that appears when a user has mapped directions to a specific location. The icon appears next to the drive time estimate in the Google Maps app, and ranges from “Limited,” “Medium” or “Easy,” based on parking availability for that location at the given time.
Both of these updates speaks to Google’s overall focus on the local user experience, in addition to the increasing need for real-time information to engage consumers and drive action. Google is certainly a pioneer for creating exceptional experiences that simplify the user journey and grow brand loyalty. Local marketers can take a page out of Google’s playbook with the following insights.
Immediacy Is Not Optional
Today’s consumers operate in an on-demand economy, with technology that empowers them with hundreds of choices in any given moment. The time-starved nature of today's customers forces people to choose brands who get them in an out of a location quickly, serving up their products or services in an efficient and time-sensitive manner.
Google knows its customers want to save time, which is why the company’s mission is to have their users leave their site as quickly as possible. This same philosophy is evident in Google’s continued endeavor to provide their users with real-time updates and before-the-moment information that will help them save time and avoid time-vacuums.
Enterprise brands can provide on-demand information to their users through real-time location management and by pushing relevant content offers to consumers in-store.
Mobile is Everything
Google is continuously enhancing the mobile user experience. Between Google’s new mobile-first indexing, Accelerated Mobile Pages and continued focus on local search, Google has set the foundation for a mobile-first world, and the company's avid user base is the evidence.
With nearly 60% of all web traffic coming from mobile, brands cannot afford to put mobile on the back burner. Busy consumers are always looking for nearby locations on-the-go, which means brands need to have a mobile-friendly site that engages users in the context of their immediate situations.
Brands can take advantage of cross-channel analytics to better understand user intent and provide content that drives online-to-offline attribution.
User Data is Key
For both its “Popular Times” updates and the new Parking Difficulty feature, Google crowdsources its mobile users’ historical location data to determine the amount of foot traffic or parking availability for a local business or venue. According to Google, this aggregated data is taken from anonymized users who have opted-in to sharing their location data.
Google uses this data to make predictive decisions about the kind of information users need in order to make their daily lives operate more seamlessly. At the same time, Google is building user loyalty and providing a service that users will come to depend on, forcing them to continue using Google search in order have, once futuristic information, provided to them beforehand.
Local marketers can learn from Google’s example by maximizing user data to make predictive marketing decisions that provide immediate content in or before a user’s moment of need.
Ultimately, user data powers the ability to form innovative marketing strategies that connect with consumers on a deeper level and generate brand loyalty through remarkable customer experiences. Learn to harness the power of local user data by using experimental marketing and cognitive techologies to connect with the consumer's of tomorrow today.