3 Local Automation Strategies: Which is Best for Your Brand?

When Balihoo surveyed 100 marketing executives (director level and above) from Fortune 1000 brands, not only were 77% of them investing funds in marketing their local channel partners directly, 50% of them expect the ROI of those local marketing dollars to be HIGHER than that of their national campaigns.*


This could be because the effect of local marketing is more measurable than national when done correctly, or because consumers are researching online, then PURCHASING OFFLINE in numbers we’ve never seen before. Both reasons tell the tale of Local Marketing well…large brands with 100s or 1000s of local channel partners are seeing gains when shifting resources to driving traffic directly to their local guys to buy their products and services.


But there are a few different ways that companies approach local marketing – some more successful than others. Let’s break them down!


BY Local

With a “By Local” strategy, the local channel partner  plans and executes all of the localized marketing campaigns, staying within brand and other guidelines set up by the corporate office. Local intelligence is valued here. Meaning, in this scenario, the local guy is in charge because they are expected to understand the market better from a consumer buying behavior perspective, and have their pulse on local partnership opportunities, regional factors and trends, and customer preferences.


For most companies, this method becomes ineffective. In fact, when surveyed, only 4% of national brands ranked their local channel partners as ‘Excellent’ in marketing.**  Unfortunately, local partners wear many hats – business owner, accountant, trainer, and sales, to name a few. They are often less likely to use the most effective (and most measurable) channels, the digital channels, due to lack of technical knowledge or lack of time and resources to optimize regularly.


WITH Local

In this scenario, the responsibilities of local marketing are divided between the brand and the local partner. The national brand retains the ability to make the bulk of the sophisticated decisions, simply due to their resources in the areas of market research, consumer preferences, media rates, and digital tactics. The local team is able to adjust some variables, such as budget, promos, product offerings, or even opt-in or opt-out of some campaigns.


This strategy can be extremely effective at both driving sales, and engaging local partners’ market intelligence. The struggles can be in the level of control and striking the right balance to keep the local partners feeling ownership in marketing their own business, as well as driving measurable results for everyone from the top down.


FOR Local

When a brand has enough market and location data to effectively market on behalf of their individual locations, they will likely choose a ‘For Local’ strategy for several reasons. First, digital tactics, which are typically the most effective dollar-for-dollar, are much easier to execute at scale on the national level by Digital Marketing experts who plan, purchase, and optimize digital channels for a living. These brands are also able to see a wider spectrum of results data by taking control, which gives them more strategic direction on all their programs over time. Lastly, the brand retains control of their branding elements including logo use, promotion language, design, and tone, making the customer journey consistent.


The best practices of successful brands show that controlling and automating local marketing at the national level works best. For example, a national brand can launch 1000s of local websites simultaneously, and ensure that they are SEO optimized, mobile-friendly, and conversion oriented, on behalf of each local partner. The site templates and content can be customized for different segments of the business, and use the brand’s own database to control each partner’s contact information and offerings.


Another way to implement a ‘For Local’ strategy is to launch a localized paid search campaign that pairs high-volume key-phrases with geo-specific terms, programmatically, to drive as much traffic as possible to local partners at a low cost. Because this is done on a mass scale, optimizations of each market are able to occur continuously, due to the sheer amount of results data coming in at a much faster rate than an individual location would see on their own. The ads are controlled by radius, so that the partners don’t compete with each other. The brand can also ensure that the local and national campaigns don’t compete with each other, which drives up the cost for both parties, in the ‘By Local’ strategy we discussed above.


Learn more about implementing a ‘For Local’ strategy by downloading The National Marketer’s guide to Local Marketing, published by Balihoo.


*Balihoo, “National Brand Adoption of Local Marketing Micro Study” January 2015

**Balihoo, “National Brand Use of Digital in Local Marketing Micro Study” October 2012