National brands rely on affiliates to deliver hyper-local marketing messages and campaigns relevant to specific geographic areas. To ensure more successful initiatives, 91% of national brands expect to spend more or the same on local marketing in 2013 as they did in 2012, according to new research from Balihoo.
Findings for the study, titled: National Brand Use of Digital in Local Marketing, also indicated that rather than focusing on traditional methods, such as print advertising, a majority (67.5%) of respondents are acknowledging digital marketing is extremely or very important to national brand success.
“With this research, we expected the majority of national brands to still be bullish on local marketing, and we were right about that,” Shane Vaughan, CMO of Balihoo, told Channel Marketer Report. Results were gathered from a survey of 384 national brand marketing executives in North America.
When asked to pinpoint their key digital methods for 2013, respondents ranked mobile, local blogs and online customer reviews as the top three priorities for local digital marketing.
“We found that national brands aspire to implement more social media tactics into their local marketing mix in 2013, while local web sites and local search registration are not viewed as top priorities,” Vaughan explained. “This is interesting because in order to get the most out of these tactics, you need a strong local online presence. Local web sites and local search registration form the foundation for a strong local marketing infrastructure.”
A local web site acts as “the hub” of a company’s entire scope of local marketing activities, Vaughan added, “providing a place for prospects to go when they learn about your brand through a mobile or social interaction. Local search ensures your brand is found when prospects are close to making a decision and they’re seeking the closest location where they can make a purchase. These are potentially missed opportunities for national brands, so CMOs and marketing managers should look more closely at these aspects of their local marketing programs as they plan ahead for 2013.”
Top Marketing Strategies For 2012
The Balihoo survey revealed local marketing methods utilized most frequently by national brands in 2012. These tactics include the following:
The Balihoo survey also delved into the marketing knowledge of local affiliates and partners. Only 4% of national brands indicated that their affiliates were “excellent” at marketing, while the 47% reported their partners were only “moderately effective” in their local marketing execution.
When asked which forms of marketing partners were least educated in, brands pointed to mobile marketing (53.4%), SEO (49.4%), and PPC (46.6%) as weaknesses.
“What we’re seeing is something we at Balihoo call the local marketing gap, which is particularly wide when it comes to digital channels,” Vaughan explained. “National brands have the resources, technology and know-how to take full advantage of the targeting, tracking and revenue-building opportunities that have emerged with the growing adoption of digital marketing tactics. While national brands are getting more digitally savvy and getting more ‘bang for their buck’ out of digital channels, their affiliates and resellers — which are often smaller operations with fewer marketing dollars and staffing resources — are getting left further behind. Most local affiliates don’t have the time, knowledge or resources to effectively execute a local digital marketing strategy.”
To help bridge the local marketing gap between organizations and their affiliates is to make co-op marketing and affiliate programs easy to utilize, especially because “most affiliates are strapped for time and may believe they’re too busy to participate in these programs,” according to Vaughan. “You want to make it as easy for affiliates to market your brand and help them see how it benefits their own bottom line.”
While local automation tools, such as those from Balihoo, help streamline marketing campaign creation, execution and reporting, organizations must have optimal training and education in place to get the best results.
“National brands should take an active role in the training process while also providing affiliates with a clear vision of the main benefit for them: Better local marketing that leads to more revenue,” Vaughan said. “A combination of technology, training and incentives to use local marketing automation solutions has proven to be a win-win for national brands and affiliates.”
Click here to access a complete version of the Balihoo report.