Addressing Multi-Location Brands’ Digital Marketing Pain Points

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Selling local marketing technology and services to multi-location brands continues to be a top challenge facing would-be suppliers. It won’t be easy, but offering tactics and tools to prove ROI and harmonize multiple customer data sources would help address those brands’ digital marketing pain points. And getting them deeper into geo-targeting and re-targeting would likely help them with conversion and increasing sales value.

As shown in the figure below, Street Fight’s 2017 State of Hyperlocal analysis showed that selling to enterprise local marketers was one of the toughest challenges facing suppliers, right up there with raising their own company’s brand awareness and showing marketing attribution and ROI. As we’re preparing our analysis for 2018, that pattern is repeating. Preliminary results from our survey have the Street Fight community ranking selling to national brands their most difficult task after company brand awareness. Prioritizing R&D is another challenge, as is proving ROI to customers.

We try to help vendors better understand the needs of these enterprise customers by surveying multi-location brands about what marketing and advertising tactics are working for them, how successful they are at achieving their marketing objectives, and what issues in digital marketing are giving them indigestion. And through examining correlations between effectiveness and particular tactics and technologies, we give those brands pointers on best practices.

The figure below illustrates how many of the brands we surveyed ranked potential digital marketing and advertising hurdles first or second in difficulty. They said proving ROI and attributing marketing tactics to desired results, along with assuring customer data security/privacy were their biggest pain points. Two data issues – managing multiple sources and effectively using multiple means of analytics – weren’t far behind. 

With all the security breaches last year, I bet that concern outweighed customer privacy issues in the minds of most marketers. Companies offering marketing tech and services shouldn’t have too much trouble easing brand anxiety on that front. Rather, the trickier problems to address will be attribution and data/analytics integration. National-to-local marketers are open to third-party data sources, but they depend primarily on their own CRM data. Suppliers, especially smaller companies, will have to ensure that what they bring to the table is compatible with and adaptable to what’s already in place. Although it’s a mixed blessing, the fact that the major providers of customer targeting data (Google, Facebook, and to a more restrictive degree, Apple) each operates its own walled garden can offer an opportunity for cleaning, standardizing, and comparing first and third-party information.

Some other actionable information from our enterprise local marketing survey includes:

  • Effectiveness at key objectives. The multi-location brands said their digital marketing was most effective at the top and bottom of the marketing funnel: creating brand awareness and building customer loyalty and retention. They were less effective at conversion and increasing the value of a sale or upselling.
  • Most and least effective tactics. Thirty percent or more of the brands surveyed rated email marketing, paid social media, and online display ads outside of social media among their top five most effective advertising or marketing tactics for supporting their stores, branches, and distributors. Far fewer cited billboards/in-store marketing, radio, print, and re-targeted or geo-targeted online or mobile advertising.

The apparent ineffectiveness of geo- and re-targeting can be attributed to a lack of familiarity, or a focus by the brands on using those techniques to drive traffic to their e-commerce corporate sites rather than to their branches or local websites. Fewer than a quarter of respondents said they used either technique regularly for local marketing. That will change, and fast. The multi-location brands we surveyed said they were spending less than a third of their digital budgets locally, but 40% said they were increasing that mix.

In contrast, though many rated online display ads as effective, when compared with how many said they used it regularly, it was one of the tactics that showed significant drop-off between regular use and top 5 effectiveness ranking. Other tactics with a similar disparity included company pages on social media and direct mail, as well as traditional media like radio and print. The big brands still like TV.

Once they’ve got their data and analytics offerings aligned with those of the brands, suppliers should help them shift their digital budgets more towards local. Re-targeting with local data should be great way to improve conversion and sales value, whether it’s done at physical or digital stores. Incorporating geotargeting into email campaigns should also help them sync up with direct mail campaigns, also.

What offerings and sales tactics are working for you in addressing multi-location brands? Please take our survey – it should only take a few minutes – and tell us, along with what challenges you think face the local industry as a whole and your own company specifically. We’ll present preliminary analysis at our upcoming Summit in Los Angeles at the end of the month, and in a report and blog posts shortly after.

David Card is Street Fight’s director of research.

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