State of Hyperlocal 2018: Very Early Returns From Street Fight’s Annual Survey

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When we did our State of Hyperlocal analysis in 2017, the Street Fight community of companies selling local marketing and commerce technology and services said their customers were boosting their spending in social media, mobile, and local site support. That synced pretty well with what we heard from local marketers, though it looks like there were and still are some under-explored opportunities in email and paid search.

It’s a truism in tech businesses that you should be just a little ahead of your customers, but not too far beyond their current focus. Street Fight’s third annual State of Hyperlocal survey aims to assist in that, as well as help companies prioritize their R&D and product marketing and development. We’ll present our preliminary analysis at January’s Street Fight Summit West in Los Angeles and we’ll publish a report that should help execs make the case for new product and marketing investment within their company. Survey input helps us tune our Street Fight research and editorial agenda, as well.

As shown in our State of Hyperlocal 2017 report, and in the figure below, last year’s survey respondents saw their best growth opportunities in social media and mobile marketing, which at least overlap and, in many cases, are the same thing. Over a third of their customers were increasing spending on marketing efforts around local sites, too. Data and analytics — a key area of focus for supplier investments — was 2017’s “new new thing.”

Two other Street Fight surveys, of decision-makers at local small businesses and multi-location brands, confirmed that social media was the top area for budget increases, as shown in the chart below. In those surveys we asked about six digital marketing and advertising tactics, and respondents said they expected to maintain or increase spending in all of them, with fewer than 10% saying they were cutting back on any given tactic.

Given that across-the board movement, our hyperlocal community may have missed some growth areas in email, search, and non-social digital display advertising, especially at enterprise local marketers.

We’ve been running the new State of Hyperlocal survey for a couple weeks, and so far Street Fight readers are saying they see the most customer and prospect spending going up in local site support and social media. 

Other early returns include:

  • The respondents’ top R&D investments are going into services for local presence management and mobile marketing. They’re also spending on attribution and native advertising. The new technology that is important long-term even if there’s less immediate payoff is geotargeting/geofencing. 
  • Online-to-offline attribution and pricing pressures from a crowded competitive market are the two biggest challenges facing the industry overall.
  • The most difficult challenge facing their own company is raising its brand awareness. Selling local services to national brands and R&D funding and prioritization are also tough.

Is your own company seeing the same patterns? What’s most effective marketing for your business? Where do your customers need the most help? Where do you think our favorite tech buzzword, artificial intelligence, is most useful? Our survey analysis should help you benchmark yourself against your competitors and identify open opportunities for growth.

We’ll keep the survey open for few more weeks before and after the holidays, and we’d like to hear from you. If you’re in the business of providing media, marketing, or commerce services and technologies to the connected local economy, we welcome you to take a few minutes and contribute your thoughts and opinions on what’s hot or not, and what challenges the industry and your company face in this ever-evolving environment.

David Card is Street Fight’s director of research.

Click here to take the survey and save 15% on Street Fight Summit West tickets or download a free report.