Introducing the Local Marketing Adoption Curve

The explosion of channels and devices has made the opportunity to connect with consumers more abundant, as well as more daunting, than ever. Today, marketers must ensure their brands are visible where and when their customers are looking for them – locally, nationally, and globally – as well as contextually relevant and engaging in the content and experiences they provide across the entire journey.

With 72 percent of consumers searching for local information on a smartphone visiting a store or location within five miles (and likely within five to 10 minutes), the local opportunity is clear. But local marketing consists of more than just optimized pages and listings – it’s a complex ecosystem that is always on and always changing. Because local truly puts the customer at the center of cross-functional corporate marketing programs that span paid, earned, and owned (think search, social, and mobile), many multi-location marketers have struggled to rally their teams to define, implement, and track their local efforts.

Enter the local marketing adoption curve. By taking a phased crawl, walk, run approach to building a comprehensive, cross-functional local marketing program, brands can be more visible, relevant, and engaging in the eyes of their consumers and, ultimately, drive customer acquisition across hundreds to thousands of locations.

Crawl

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Listing management is the required foundation for a local strategy. At the crawl stage, you want to focus on achieving brand consistency by getting the basics right with your local listings: have you claimed all the local listings where your name belongs? Is basic yet essential information about your local businesses accurately listed? Here, you want to cleanse your data and ensure that it is consistently distributed to the major search engines, IYPs, directories, and social media networks. You should also distribute data to aggregators, including Acxiom, Neustar (i.e. Localeze), Factual, and Infogroup. With clean, accurate data being pushed out to the entire ecosystem, you will ensure continued data health that will translate into accurate listings.

Walk

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In the walk stage, you should think more about how location pages are optimized. Location pages should be created with links to social media and review sites. Title tags should include city, and meta descriptions should include categories. You should claim and optimize your listings on Google+ and add location-specific images and videos. During the walk stage, your data analytics should be complete enough to help you identify opportunities to grow your brand based on performance of local sites and any insights into customer behavior you can gain. At this point, you should be getting enough analytics data – through clicks as well as click-to-call tracking – to start capitalizing on the opportunity to build market leadership for your brand. The outcome of the walk stage should be improved brand visibility (as measured by such key performance indicators (KPIs) as improved rankings).

Run

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When you are running, your local marketing efforts should be getting more sophisticated through the use of hyper-local paid search and paid social targeting DMAs and other defined demographics. You should be adopting a multi-location strategy across an extensive network of mobile apps and incorporating local promotions. In essence, at the run stage, you should be ready to consistently share information across search, social, and mobile to improve customer acquisition. Paid search and paid social should drive visitors to the location pages created in the “walk” stage. The outcome of the run stage is increased lead volume and a lower blended cost per lead. At this point, there should be no question about measuring the value of local.

And what happens after you run? Well, you should optimize your local marketing efforts based on a more refined understanding of how your customers behave across your network. You should optimize all your local marketing for customers who use multiple devices to find your brand. In other words, once you are running, you really are “all in” with local marketing. But don’t stop running. Local marketing success is dependent across search, social, and mobile – a complex ecosystem that is always on and always changing. To be successful, marketers must be agile and continuously adapt to the changes.

Success with local is all about commitment. If you apply the time and resources to implement and track local campaigns, these efforts will yield solid results. Local digital marketing can drive the best ROI for large multi-location brands. Where does your brand live on the “Local Marketing Adoption Curve”?

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