At Street Fight, we think a lot about where local marketing and commerce is headed — we talk about the “connected local economy,” and focus on digital solutions that don’t fit a typical “marketing” mold. Since our launch in 2011, we have told the story of local marketing’s evolution from early disruptors offering simple check-in services and daily deals to ever more sophisticated platforms leveraging cloud technologies that cover the spectrum of local business.
All of these threads wind their way back to the local merchant. New, old, digital native or analog ancient, they know there’s a sweeping change taking place in the way they connect with local consumers. They’re just not in lock-step in the tools and strategies they deploy to get there.
And that’s the problem for suppliers proffering local marketing solutions. “Local merchants” are a highly fragmented group holding purse strings of at least $40 billion — and that’s just their digital marketing spend. They are diverse in what they do and sell, covering everything from restaurants and retail shops to dry cleaners, spa services and contractors.
The good news for suppliers is that despite their differences, all local merchants want to get the most return out of their technology investment, and they must adapt to the changing world around them, where more than half of their customer base relies heavily on their smartphones for information and transactions.
To support both sides of the table navigate through the new landscape, we’re thrilled to release the third edition of Street Fight’s “The Local Merchant Report,” a 70-page, 500-merchant study featuring dozens of charts, rich data, case studies, market analysis, and even pitch strategies.
We got up close and personal with local businesses to find out what they’re doing and what they’re thinking when it comes to local marketing. Street Fight senior editor Stephanie Miles, who writes much of our small business coverage, spent dozens of hours talking with local merchants and wrote much of the report; we partnered with Thrive Analytics to survey more than 500 local businesses; and David Card, who recently joined us as research director from Gigaom, Forrester and IDC, brought an additional layer of analysis to the findings and the report we’ve published today.
A big focus of the report is put on digital efforts, of course, where usage continues to increase in astonishing numbers — just 32% of the local businesses we talked to use traditional channels such as newspapers or yellow pages, while all of them use some form of digital marketing or commerce tools.
Local merchants are predominantly turning to social media and email marketing for now. They are moving into mobile, and big strides are being made at the cash register, in point-of-sale and loyalty programs. Back-office solutions such as scheduling platforms are also achieving strong results, with a full 28% of local merchants who use such tools citing them as the flat-out No. 1 most effective channel for growing their business. Beware this Trojan horse.
There is so much in this rich report that will help both suppliers and merchants alike take local tech to new heights. It’s our mission to support the growth and sustainability of the new local marketing ecosystem, and we hope you’ll use The Local Merchant Report 2015 to guide your success. Click here to get your copy!