By Ashley Furness, guest blogger and market analyst for research firm Software Advice.
Localized marketing is one of the most effective methods for making your brand relevant to the customer. Unfortunately, it's also among the most difficult, expensive and time consuming.
But leaving it up to franchise owners and resellers jeopardizes brand consistency and is nearly impossible to track. Thankfully, technology developers in recent years have released new tools that make the practice easier, less expensive and more automated. Below are four strategies every national brand marketer should know.
Manage Local Search Listings
Yext PowerListings lets companies control their local search listings across 35 search platforms including Yahoo!, Yelp and Foursquare. The technology makes sure the correct address, website and phone numbers are listed. Marketers can also add images and timely promotions to those listings. These portals track how many times a listing showed up, where, and whether it was clicked.
"Every business wants to make sure they are everywhere consumers are searching," says Yext Sales and Services Vice President Wendi Sturgis. Her company has run diagnostics on more than 200 companies' local search results. At least 50 percent of those listings were wrong or missing. "That's a huge missed opportunity," she says.
With Yext, marketers can add custom promotions, descriptions and photos to search listings based on the location. These appear adjacent to the name of the company and address on the local search results page and are specific to that location. This saves marketers from needing to individually contact and negotiate with each search platform. Users can also instantly make changes to listings using a account dashboard.
Provide Customizable Marketing Assets to Local Affiliates
Digital asset management systems have long been used to make branded materials available to local marketers. But they aren't specific to a location, nor do they track the promotion's execution. New localized marketing automation platforms overcome this challenge by streamlining fulfillment and providing materials that are customizable. The technology delivers national-quality marketing assets to local marketers who can add in their own addresses, logos, social media buttons and other localized content. These assets include microsites, email templates, direct mail ads, in-store materials, online displays, social media messages, radio spots, outdoor displays and more. Users also receive timely, aggregated results from local marketing efforts. These can identify in-market trends and improve overall national campaign efforts.
Encourage and Use Customer-Created Content
Personal stories and recommendations are extremely powerful in today's review-obsessed world. Thankfully, companies such as Compendium allow brands to creatively encourage, curate and promote customer-created stories. Patrons are invited to contribute their story in-person, through email marketing or "tell us about your experience" forms, among other avenues. Customers write about their experiences and submit photos specific to that location. They are then served tools to instantly share those posts with their own social networks. The prevents marketers from having to write unique content for every location. Additionally that content is atomically more likely to be shared and trusted by the writers social network.
Leverage On-Location Displays and Shopping Apps
Companies such as Adcentricity operate a network of in-store television screens, location-based shopping apps, in-window displays, digital projectors, radio partners and interactive gaming stations. Marketers can target segments by choosing geographically relevant settings. For example, if a company wanted to target young people, it might choose screens in trendy downtown bars. The technology can also auto-personalizes the message for the store, day or time.
There are undoubtedly other technologies that make localized marketing easier–and still more that address challenges not mentioned here (Google Adwords, Yelp! and Facebook). What solutions have you come across? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.