Best Practices in the Cloud-Based “Local Service Layer” for National-to-Local

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Illustration - puzzle piecesThis is the second in a series of articles about the “Local Service Layer,” sponsored by Surefire Social, focused on tools and best practices for brands evolving a national-to-local strategy.

National and regional brands spend years and significant marketing dollars building their reputation. The problem is that local content — everything from basic location data to reviews, social media personality and website content — is playing a bigger role in the way consumers make local shopping decisions than ever before. Maintaining a consistent brand campaign on both a national and local level becomes increasingly challenging with the dynamic nature of digital channels.

But even as distributed local content is proliferating, so are new tools and strategies that redefine and reshape national brands’ ability to maintain control at the local level. Namely, cloud-based applications that empower local-market representatives while giving the national level more transparency and ability to create guidance — in near real-time — than ever before. Call it the “Local Service Layer.” This will be good news for many marketers, as one-quarter of national brands say they are unable to track ROI at the local level.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 1.43.19 PMHow the cloud is the bridge between national and local

Cloud-based applications provide large brands — particularly those that sell locally — with an unprecedented ability to connect with consumers in the places where they live and shop. Their power is in using the cloud to bring the thousands of local affiliates — from entrepreneurs,  store managers and evangelists — into the marketing process.

The cloud can help brands put their local foot first. The remote nature of cloud computing — that the software is run and controlled centrally and accessed remotely — means that national brands can wield unprecedented control over local campaigns. A national brand can create, monitor, and respond to each local interaction through a single piece of software, allowing local agents to facilitate the conversation — all within a corporately-controlled environment.

Putting the cloud to work

A more nimble option than the proprietary systems used in the past, cloud-based options allow national brands to work with third-party providers whose products and services don’t require deep integration. They can largely kick off on the fly. What’s more, aggregators of cloud-based apps offer the ability to create a strategy with many or few functions, depending on the larger marketing goals. Those functions may be updated and swapped out at any time, while their cloud-based nature means that both national and local level can on-ramp at the same time, using the same software, creating transparency and control for the national level. In local digital marketing, a cloud-based approach allows national-level executives to distribute assets and guidelines; watch the execution and performance of campaigns; and iterate from there.

Best practices in cloud-based national-to-local success

A national-to-local strategy aims to help brands maximize the power of that relationship online while reducing the very real risk it can pose as well, when employees are empowered.

The right way to put a national-to-local cloud-based approach in place considers the following:

Set a Baseline of Accurate Data and Data Sources: As consumers become increasingly mobile, they are becoming increasingly local as well. Data shows that nearly 40% of mobile searches have local intent compared to a quarter on desktop. That means marketers need to ensure that consumers can find correct and rich information about each location — not just the national brand — online.

Create a Parent-Child Platform Structure: Technology tools such as marketing dashboards that offer parent-child relationships give national the ability to set up corporate approvals and distribute campaign tools in a way that maintains monitoring throughout the entire process.  National marketers need to spend time to set guidelines detailing the way in which local affiliates create, structure, and publish content. Marketers can then build these rules into the software used to manage these campaigns, creating a layer of permissions and settings that make sure the right person is creating the right content for the right market.

Monitor Performance, But Also Execution: One of the unique qualities of cloud computing is that every user effectively uses the same piece of software. That means every tap and stroke, every post or tweet is measured and conveyed in real-time to the administrator. Marketers need to have a plan to monitor activity across the entire network in order to step in if something goes awry.

Iterate — Because You Can: Each market may be different but national teams can replicate successful campaigns in other markets. This will let the national level see which markets are performing better, and tweak those that are underperforming, with the help of the local rep, to achieve a campaign that hits. Cloud-based apps off the flexibility to do this regularly.

Thanks to evolving tech tools, national marketers are in a powerful position to harness their web of data to deepen their relationships with consumers via their local agents. The next post in the “Local Service Layer” series will look into technology options and their pros and cons.

The Full Local Service Layer

This series explores aspects of this strategy, helping marketers and solution providers understand how it works and how to put it into action. Sponsored by Surefire Social.

Read the full series here!