Local Marketing Automation vs. Marketing Automation: Do You Know the Difference?

If you’re a digital marketer, you may or may not have heard of local marketing automation, but it’s almost guaranteed that you know (at least at some level) of what marketing automation is. In fact, you can probably name a few vendors (Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot, Pardot, etc.), and you probably know the basic features of a marketing automation platform. This post is focused on local marketing automation and how the new technology can help national brands extend their reach into local markets.


Different Objectives – Driving national conversions vs. increasing local sales


The key difference between a local marketing automation platform and a marketing automation platform is the final goal of the marketer using the tool. While a marketing automation platform is designed to streamline the planning & execution of marketing campaigns that direct a potential customer to a national site (or call a national sales line, request a demo through a national portal, e-commerce offerings, etc.) a local marketing automation platform provides tools that help a marketer direct potential customers to a local point of purchase.


Since the specific tactics of campaign execution are often the same (or at least similar) between a local marketing automation platform and a marketing automation platform, it can be confusing to tell the difference initially. For most brands (that rely, at least partially, on sales at a local level) it isn’t a question of either/or, as you’ll see local marketing automation platforms offer a different set of tools to meet a different set of needs.





Website – Landing pages vs. local websites


A standard marketing automation platform generally will have tools for landing page design. Landing pages, by nature, are designed to funnel mass amounts of traffic down a specific buying process that a national brand has set up. The pages are typically designed for a single purpose and are generally endpoints of other campaigns so SEO work on them isn’t necessary.


On the other hand, local marketing automation platforms offer tools for setting up local websites. The idea behind a local website is that it is a permanent hub where data about a specific local store can be found. Ranking well on search is a key element for these pages since they are often needed as an entry point to closing a local sale. The data on these local websites is very specific to a location and will contain contact information (name, address, and phone number), pictures or specific product offerings and sometimes a way to schedule a meeting with a local store. A robust local website SEO strategy will often include city sites that allow locations to be grouped together to increase local discoverability by searchers. Read more about the difference between local sites and landing pages in our new infographic here.




Email – National or geo-targted?


Both traditional marketing automation platforms and local marketing automation platforms rely heavily on email for marketing campaign execution. The big difference is that for national marketing automation the final goal of emails is to get a consumer to visit the national or corporate site, or possibly purchase a product directly through an ecommerce site. They often lack the ability to give direction to a prospective customer who is looking for somewhere locally to buy now. Again- this isn’t a “which is better, local email or national” but really just highlighting that they will serve different purposes for a company. You can read more why having all four types of email are essential for success in my post from a few weeks ago.




Users – Who are these tools designed for?


Traditional marketing automation tools are designed to be used almost exclusively by national brand marketers who spend most or all of their day in the software. Marketing automation platforms can be quite complex and require users to be savvy in both traditional marketing tools and effective technologists as well. The platforms are best used when there is a small handful of people in the software versus large teams.


Local marketing automation platforms are often designed for a more diverse user base. Local marketing should operate allowing national marketers to execute campaigns by, with, and for the local channel. To effectively do this, a local marketing automation platform will allow for national marketers to log in to the software and set up the parameters for campaigns, and allow local agents to activate the campaigns that the brand has approved and designed for them.


SEO – Big number of national visitors or hyper-targeted local search domination


SEO tools for national marketing automation software are designed to help maximize search to specific landing pages or campaigns. Often the quantity of search traffic is measured in the tens or hundreds of thousands each month. Competition for keywords can be high, and the goal is to maximize a very narrow set of specific keywords to capture the most traffic.


The play is totally different for a local marketing automation platform. Instead of capturing competitive national keywords, the goal is to win at search rankings for search queries that indicate local buying intent. The strategy for ranking for search terms like “running shoes” is very different from ranking well for “running shoes Boise”, “running shoes Boston”, “running shows Merced”, etc. The local marketing automation platform is going to have SEO tools that are designed to capture a broad number of searches that show localized intent to purchase. In addition to the differences in what search terms a brand is trying to own (hyper-local vs. national terms) the local marketing automation platform is going to be directing search results to the individual landing page specific to the search query.


Digital Advertising – PPC advertising differences


As with SEO above, the major differences between a local marketing automation platform and a traditional marketing automation platform is where the PPC campaigns direct a potential customer who clicks, and who is getting targeted. The goal of a local marketing automation platform will be to geo-target potential customers and serve them ads that are both compelling and direct them to a local point of purchase. Traditional marketing automation platforms usually don’t allow for this kind of hyper-local targeting and instead focus on serving ads based on broader demographic or behavioral markers.


Which is better, local marketing automation or traditional marketing automation?


It really isn’t a case of better or worse. A national brand that relies on selling at the local level but also finds value in converting customers to a national or corporate website will want both. It may be possible to cobble together a platform that does both at the same time, but as you can see, the aims of these two different types of software is so dramatically different that trying to be good everywhere is going to result in actually being good nowhere.


If you’re ready to invest in local marketing automation, or simply learn more about the Balihoo solution, be sure to check out our overview video, and let us know if you have any questions.