In an effort to find better ways to meet the needs of its clientele, local marketing guru Brandmuscle surveyed several hundred businesses in a range of industries to find out which marketing platforms were considered the most successful as measured by several indices.
The most significant revelation was that while traditional platforms such as direct mail, newspapers, and even radio still held strong to their established levels of implementation and satisfaction, rapid gains were being made in other areas.
When it came to using or rejecting any given local marketing approach, cost and perceived ease (or difficulty) of use were cited as the primary factors for any decision.
Among the findings –
- Coupons had the highest level of satisfaction with over 80 percent of local marketers saying they used them, producing measurable results for a minimal investment and ease of implementation – regardless of whether the platform was print or digital.
- Direct mail and email shared almost equally both in use (82 and 71 percent respectively) and level of satisfaction. However, it was agreed that they delivered different results. Direct mail was identified as a superior resource for prospecting for new clients and, to a lesser degree, retaining them. Email is viewed as more effective for retention, and almost as valuable as a referral-marketing tool.
- Marketing efforts that encouraged face-to-face interactions generated not only the highest satisfaction rates, but they were preferred by more than 80 percent of respondents. Approximately three-quarters of those surveyed said they participate in local events or they provide community sponsorships. Those who shied away from this tactic cited these as being too time consuming or too difficult (or both) as the reasons.
- While websites and social media continue to grow, they still play catch-up as far as a marketing option, even though those who use them indicate they are highly satisfied with the results, the ROI, and the ease of execution. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they had a website, and 63 percent said Facebook was their preferred social media platform. Surprisingly, almost thirty percent of small businesses responding did not have a local website, again referring to a lack of time or to difficulty as the reasons.
- Proportionately, mobile marketing had the lowest rate of adoption but it delivered some of the highest satisfaction rates among all the marketing options. Those surveyed said it provides a quick and expensive means of staying in contact with existing customers. However, it was not viewed as an effective means of generating new business.
The authors of the study suggest that although traditional platforms were still the dominant force in local marketing, they were losing ground quickly. Those brands that do not assist their local affiliates in building a strong digital presence will encounter problems from competitors who are becoming more aggressive in exploring and utilizing the different digital media approaches (mobile marketing, paid search, online display, etc.).
Brandmuscle. “The State of Local Marketing,” October 2014.