3 ways to battle decline in local commerce

Meagen Johnson | General Manager, KSL Local Commerce, DDM | @webprincessmeg | December 4, 2015

It seems like yesterday that the deals industry was ground-breaking and disruptive, yet today many industry experts proclaim consumers and merchants have “daily deal fatigue,” and the outlook for deals websites are grim, especially when industry giants, like Groupon and Living Social, are downsizing.

Once at their peak, local directories services were SEO gold mines. Ask most industry experts, and the overall picture for local directories is one of decline as a whole, with a few exceptions. Deseret Digital Media is one of those exceptions, and we are bucking the downward trend.

Despite the bleak portrait of the deals and local directory industry, DDM’s local commerce products, KSL Deals and KSL Local, continue to deliver value for customers and revenue for merchants. So what makes our local commerce channels different from what the industry is saying? Here are three ways:

1. Commit to serving the businesses in your communities

Merchants’ success is our success. They appreciate our fair splits, how closely we work with them to ensure their brand and messaging come through in their deal, and how quickly we launch their deals. We help control costs by working with quantities and redemption processes to ensure their deal is building their business and not hurting it.

The majority of our local commerce merchants are small businesses, even one-man-shops that have not fully gone digital. They need a way to connect with a digital audience without breaking the bank or significant effort. That’s where KSL Deals and KSL Local offer affordable solutions to grow their business at costs they can afford. These options include revenue splits, flat fees for listings, and paying for promotion or performance.

2. Understand the needs of your local businesses and customers

Our deals platform changed from extreme discounts as a daily deal site to a full shopping cart with both deals and discounts (coupons) on products, services, activities and events. This commerce change gave customers more daily choices, and businesses greater exposure to new audiences.

Recently, Groupon and Living Social adjusted their business strategy to increase their focus on activities and events in local markets. In Utah, we already own this category with more than 55 percent of our deals coming from activities and events. Our customers know KSL Deals is the place to find affordable activities they can share with family or friends.

While consumers are shopping for a great deal, they might also have a need for business services, like a plumber or a landscaper or maybe they moved to town and need to find a baby sitter for their kids. Whatever their need, our KSL Local directory delivers trusted local search results to consumers with businesses in their local communities.

Customers want relevant results for their local searches. Our KSL Local directory has an integral role in delivering those results and along with local SEO. Search engines like Google and Bing populate sites, like KSL Local, at the top of their organic search results when a user is searching for a business with a local intent. That’s good for the customer, the merchant and KSL.

Local directory listings also give merchants presence on the Web, without the upkeep or expense of their own website. It is also a great way to let search engines know they exist.

3. Leverage the power of your media organization

From display ads, classified listings, native advertising, TV and radio, we continuously promote our Deals and Local directory services within the other channels of our media organization. SMB’s can’t always afford traditional advertising channels, such as large display campaigns or TV commercials, but they can afford a split on a deal with no upfront costs, a basic directory listing when they have no website or being included on a native advertising roundup of the best places to eat in your city. They are often even willing to spend more with you when they know they’ll be included in a larger promotion.

While industry predicts declines and “woe, is me” in deals sites and local directories, DDM will continue to disrupt and innovate local commerce. Our dedication to building trust between the consumer and local businesses is pivotal for our future success.