Local marketing is a challenge for many national marketers because they don't know where they stand at the local level in the first place. Most national companies have performance metrics for measuring national marketing efforts, but that last mile of marketing—at the local level, where most consumers actually purchase—is hard to track. As a result, many national brands lack a clear vision for developing a performance-based local marketing strategy.
This lack of insight into local marketing presence and performance means many national brands are losing out on revenue opportunities, especially if their product or service is sold through local affiliates, dealers, brokers or agents.
Most consumers today first go online to research products and comparison shop. When they're ready to buy, they'll localize their research efforts both online and by telephone to find a place in their neighborhood where they can make the purchase. If your prospective customer can't find you at this final stage of the purchasing process, then you're losing the sale.
So how do you determine your brand's local marketing Web presence? A local Web test helps you determine the percentage of "real estate" your brand and product categories own or strongly influence on page one of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when using a local geographic modifier. The higher the percentage, the better your brand is performing.
This best illustrated by an example: the USPS will be the brand, "overnight document delivery" the product category and Google the search engine. The city we'll search in is Boston. Here's how it works:
- Brand Name Search Results for USPS: When searching simply by USPS, they own 100 percent of the search results page. No surprise there.
- Brand Name + City Search for USPS, Boston: When a geographic modifier is added, USPS owns most of the real estate, but not all.
- Product Category + City Search for "Overnight Document Delivery," Boston: When searching by the product category and market, all of USPS's competitors show up, including FedEx, Mailboxes, Etc. and UPS. Even the paid opportunities are ads for competitors. USPS is nowhere to be found on page one.
This test was also performed for "Overnight Document Delivery" in other, smaller markets, with the same results. USPS clearly has some work to do with its local marketing presence in this product category.
This is very common for many brands, but can be remedied with a critical first step in local marketing: the local website. Local websites serve as the hub for all local marketing tactics—both on- and offline. They are smaller variations of the national website that carry the brand's image and messages. They allow the brand and its local affiliates to be found where and when consumers are trying to find those products or services. And they function as centralized landing pages through which all local marketing tactics, such as PPC, email marketing and banner ads, can be driven. Local websites also allow your local dealers and affiliates to participate in fairly sophisticated marketing campaigns while you maintain control over your key branding elements.
Local websites can help drive top-line revenue growth and market share for your brand. They can also help you close the marketing loop to track and measure ROI at the local reseller level, providing much-needed metrics and insight to benchmark and improve local marketing performance.
After you take the test to determine your brand's current local marketing Web presence, take these steps to set up a local website:
- Determine the objectives for your local websites by understanding your local affiliates' objectives and how your customers buy;
- Establish local marketing KPIs, such as online conversions, phone calls or transactions, revenues, and ROI;
- Establish systems and processes for ensuring brand consistency and metrics reporting for local websites; and
- Support local website launches with local registration and potentially traffic-driving PPC campaigns.