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A Digital Marketing Solar System

The world is becoming increasingly digitalized and businesses are hard pressed to leverage the increasing complexity of digital marketing. The rapid rise of mobile devices, the increasing use of social media and the ability to provide location centric content requires a new mindset for your local marketing efforts.

The main purpose of any marketing effort is to create awareness and generate demand.  Translation for anyone with retail locations: turn online traffic into foot traffic while keeping image and engagement high.

The digital marketing solar system consists of not only social circles—Facebook, Twitter, Yelp—but search engines, landing pages, maps, search engine optimization, display advertising, paid searches, email marketing and more.  All of these pieces fall into a bigger picture that creates a mosaic of your brand. The projection of that mosaic could be very clear or it can be a disaster. Is your brand’s image transcending over all of these communication channels?

Let’s explore the fundamental steps needed for any large national brand or local business to market online. First, start thinking of your store locator or website or location landing page as the center of a local marketing solar system.

Second, understand there are several forms of media such as earned media, paid media and owned media. The focus of this article is primarily on owned media.

Owned media is your Facebook profile, your Google+ Local page, your blog, Twitter account and so on, basically any media that you control.

Fish Where the Fish Are

The tablet is the new PC and a mobile device is the new laptop. Forrester Research has predicted that in 2016, $77 billion will be spent on digital marketing. This equals the amount that is spent on television advertising today, so it is increasingly important to know how to effectively use digital marketing.

A recent publication by Google on the importance of mobile devices reported that more than 50 percent of mobile users said they would not recommend a business with a low-quality mobile-designed site, and 40 percent have turned to a competitor’s site after having a poor mobile experience.

Today’s consumer is part of Generation Y: they are young, entitled and have fast-paced lifestyles. They are tech savvy and prefer to communicate digitally. In fact, more than 80 million unique users access some type of social media on their mobile devices monthly. It’s a staggering statistic that makes mobile critical to reaching the right audience.

Think Global, Market Local, Be Social

With the explosion of social, local and mobile, many channels exist. Marketers need to evaluate which channel best suits their business, while being careful not to get lost in the hype.

From Volkswagen to Zipcar, local customization, especially on mobile devices, has been recognized as an essential part of the digital marketing ecosystem. National brands know that reaching out to the local consumer is essential to driving in-store conversions; retaining continuity of the brand is the single largest challenge for national brands involved in any local digital marketing initiative.

According to Google, one-third of all web searches are done for local content, about 90 percent of mobile users have searched for local information, and finally more than 50 percent of those searches have turned into an in-person visit.

These statistics show us that local marketing is directly linked to conversion and real life interaction with a brand. Yet, before being able to drive a consumer to your front door, the engagement process begins at a local digital level.

Broadcast and Amplify

Social, mobile, local and search are all powerful and valuable marketing channels. However, executing an effective campaign across the local marketing landscape is challenging both in terms of resources and strategy.

The key to staying focused and organized is to base all your marketing activities on a single, consistent idea. In the case of local marketing, this unifying idea is your local business data.

Of all the elements of digital marketing, local search is perhaps the most fragmented, the sheer volume of local publishers to be aware of can seem daunting. While the landscape includes dozens of publishers, a single source of data can power all of them.

Once companies understand how local data can power search marketing, the next step is to actually get their data into the major local search destinations. At a high level, this process can be thought of as a “location broadcast.” By broadcasting your locations everywhere, your business can be sure that consumers will be able to find your locations wherever they might look.

Submitting your data to local publishers can be accomplished in different ways. Most local sites will allow business owners to “claim” locations, enabling you to update and control your information.

With a unified location database and a plan to broadcast your local data everywhere, your business will be on the right track to making your locations visible online and ultimately driving local searchers to your locations.

Measure Your Success

A successful marketer always acts on data, not on impulse; simply delivering your content is no longer enough.

The ever-growing complexity and volume of data requires sophisticated analysis tools. For location analysis, an online mapping platform may be best to identify trends by channel, geography and time. This allows your brand to visually see and examine the mountain of data collected around consumer intent and actions.

Tools such as GIS software, tabular reports, and email alerts, and the ability to slice and dice your data multi-dimensionally through online analytical processes such as OLAP cube for cross-channel, demographic, geographical and chronological research allows for sophisticated analysis of your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy should constantly evolve and adapt based upon data.

Finally, always improve your marketing content by conducting A/B testing to achieve the highest return on investment for your marketing campaigns and attain above average marketing return for each of your marketing channels.

Multi-channel analysis that helps to measure your key performance indicators, and ultimately, the ROI for your marketing campaign, is a crucial step toward delivering the right content to the right audience.

Digital trends—mobile, local, social and consumers’ use of digital channels (the digital mosaic)—are not just for 2013, but the dominant trends for well past 2012. Current technology is aligned with this culture’s beliefs on what their world should be, fast, accessible and powerful. Mobile use of the Web must be not only quickly accessible but accurately accessible as well. Information should be tailored to them at the local level, if it is not, the latter becomes meaningless. Consumers’ power to voice their opinion in the digital’s multifaceted space is what holds together a business’s mosaic.

For businesses, 2013 marks the beginning or optimization of their transformation in this new digital world.

While there is no magic formula, doing things differently by understanding the customer behaviors and expectations should be a worthy goal to aspire
toward. ⎯

Manish Patel is CEO of Where 2 Get It, Inc. He can be reached at 714-660-4852 or mpatel@where2getit.com.

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