If you’re in business, then it’s been drilled into you just how important your business’s location is to its success. These days, not only is your physical location important, but your digital location is just as, if not more, important to an effective business strategy. More and more consumers are turning to the digital landscape first to find the businesses that they are looking for, and you need to be in their field of vision straight away.

The more visible you are online, the more likely you are to be found by potential customers, and I can assure you that almost all your customers are online. A lot of businesses, especially smaller ones, fall into the trap of thinking they merely have to be online just to cover all their bases, but in reality the world has gone digital in such a substantial way that it could be said that it’s the most important base for a company to focus on.

The 4 Ps of marketing still apply online as much as they do offline for a business; a company needs to be selling the right product or service at an attractive price, at the best place, and with the right promotion. The digital sphere can be seen the same as the physical business world, your location strategy will ensure that you are placed prominently, with the correct promotional strategy, so that your target market will find your product.

Location = discoverability

The key to being found online no longer lies in just effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Due to geo-location, a company must now develop an effective location strategy alongside its SEO strategy in order to effectively dominate in the online arena.

In fact, managing your location strategy may even outweigh SEO. In order to improve your Google ranking, you could resort to diluting your online content with keywords which are purely there for the search engine, and not for the added value of your consumers. On the other hand, optimising your searchability according to your location will allow your business to show up effectively in searches, without adding any unnecessary content.

There are a few ways to make your location known so that the search engines will find you. One way is to make sure you appear on the right directories, such as Google Places for Business and YellowPages, as well as reviewing sites such as Tripadvisor, with another way being to rank highly on the right social networks, as Google has started taking a more holistic view to search rankings, taking social networks into account as well.

Review sites are very important to any business, but especially to those in the travel and tourism industry, as customers will trust firsthand peer accounts over any company-generated advertising.

Top location-based social networks

Foursquare

This popular location-based network can be utilised by a company as a very effective advertising platform. An example of its reach was the case study of how Mark West, the owner of Monique’s Chocolates in Palo Alto in California offered the same “buy one, get one free” offer in the form of a print advert (costing him $350), as well as on Foursquare (for free). The result was one new customer from the print advert, and over 30 from Foursquare, showing how effective Mark’s online location strategy was in the end.

Loopt

This social network revolves around the concept of “Connect, Share and Explore”, allowing users to view a map of their favourite places, as well as giving them the ability to leave reviews for each place. Businesses can use an application like this to their advantage by being active and rewarding good feedback from customers, as well as addressing bad feedback quickly.

We&Co

An interesting aspect of this start-up application, is the fact that it doesn’t just allow users to review a place, but rather to provide feedback on the people behind the business, creating a more personal experience. Businesses are encouraged to interact with users, as well as have the capabilities to upload all their employees to their profile, so that individuals can be found and thanked for their service. Businesses can also offer frequent visitors special perks such as discounts, while gaining a good reputation through reviews and feedback.

MobiLuck

This network is attracting a slightly younger demographic, so is a useful platform to be on if your target market is young. Users are able to update connections on where they are, as well as what they are up to at a particular time. Another feature which is useful from a customer service point of view, is the fact that the app currently supports Symbian and Windows phones operators to chat via MSN, and will soon allow Yahoo, Gchat, AOL and Skype message services. This is an app to keep in mind, as it is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, and has already done well in Europe.

It’s important for businesses to keep up with the ever-changing digital sphere. Just because you seem to have it right one day, doesn’t mean you can rest the next day. At the moment, improving the location strategy of your business is pertinent in order to make sure that your customers will find you with as little effort as possible.