Automated Tools To Help Local Businesses Tackle Online Marketing
When asked to rate their biggest challenges with managing digital media for their business, 47% of local business owners said they don’t have enough knowledge or expertise; 43% said they don’t have enough time; and 26% said they don’t have enough resources, according to a Local Search Association/Thrive Analytics survey conducted earlier this year.
Furthermore, 30% of local business owners said their advertising budget simply isn’t large enough. These numbers show that local businesses are struggling to keep up with the fast-changing digital advertising and marketing landscape.
In order to succeed, marketers need to provide local businesses with quick, reliable and cost-effective solutions that enable them to raise visibility for their products and services, without the hassle and cost of dedicating their own time or paying large amounts for others to handle it for them. That’s why many in our industry are excited about the growing availability of automated local marketing solutions.
Automation is a win-win for local businesses and marketers because it lowers the cost and time needed to implement marketing across different platforms. It simplifies the process for local businesses and marketers in creating and executing integrated marketing strategies. And it opens the door for everyone to more easily adopt best practices in local marketing — whether creating a mobile-optimized website or launching an online store.
Here are three examples of local automated marketing trends that represent what’s possible.
Automating Online Business Listings Management
Often in this column, we talk about the importance of accurate and consistent local business information across the multitude of local directory sites and social networks such as Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Facebook and Foursquare, as well as key data aggregators such as Localeze and Acxiom.
Rio SEO recently introduced its Local Listing Manager solution that enables local businesses and marketers to generate and optimize accurate local business information (name, address, phone number, etc.) on the major listings and aggregators — all from a single dashboard. While this tool is a potential solution for any type of SMB, it could be particularly useful to multi-location brands that have more frequent store location and other changes.
Manually identifying and individually changing numerous directory sites and aggregators takes valuable time and effort that could be directed to other activities. And all too often, local businesses and marketers don’t make the necessary updates to inaccurate or inconsistent information, leading to frustrated customers and lost leads. Automating online listing management helps local businesses do what’s best for them and their customers without breaking the bank.
Before embarking on a long haul to update information across the web, local businesses and marketers should explore automated tools to make their jobs easier and more effective.
Automating Search Engine Marketing
There’s no doubt that search engine marketing (SEM) is a key component of online search visibility and one that businesses should implement. But the cost of traditional human SEM expertise needed to navigate the complex and changing field put it out of reach for many.
Some local marketers have shied away from offering SEM to SMBs because they don’t have the budget to service them effectively — and many SMBs have stayed away because they don’t feel they have the knowledge to do it on their own.
Now, automated solutions provide an opportunity for marketers to offer SEM at a price point that SMBs can more likely afford and be incentivized to pursue.
The Search Agency launched a tool called AdMax Local that allows marketers to offer SMBs automated local SEM campaigns. The offering — which consolidates and fully automates every step of the SEM process including sales, pricing, ad creation, management, optimization and reporting — relieves marketers from dedicating significant time, effort and expertise that is too costly for SMBs to swallow.
Many small businesses also worry that they don’t have the expertise to risk an investment into SEM. Automated services like AdMax Local use algorithms that take away the guesswork and help target campaigns based on information provided by the business such as services provided and locations served. These types of automated offerings also optimize budgets and bids so that campaign spends are used effectively.
Automation of SEM demonstrates the best of what technology should do: save time, simplify tasks, lower costs, and optimize opportunities.
Automating Video Advertising
Video advertising is an increasingly popular platform. A recent report by Cisco predicted that by 2018, 79% of all internet traffic will be video. Americans now watch 30-35 billion video ads each month: not regular videos, but commercials that appear in online videos. And that number represents an increase of more than 200% in the past 18 months.
But video ads so far are dominated by bigger brands. Video ad production is expensive, and distribution is complicated. Additionally, one of the biggest challenges for video advertising is targeting the right audience so that it is relevant to consumer viewing it.
Sightly recently introduced a new local video advertising platform called TargetView, which is currently available to multi-location brand networks, but is being adopted for marketers to provide to SMBs, as well.
The offering enables local businesses to create video ads using existing creative and assets from Sightly’s library and stock sources. For multi-brand local businesses, the ads are customized with the relevant store address, phone number, map and other information specific to the geographical areas where they will be distributed. As the example above illustrates, ads are customized to drive consumers to the closest business location.
TargetView then sets up and runs corresponding video campaigns in each selected market based on the local business’ budget and target audiences. The customized ads are targeted to relevant consumers via YouTube, Google and other popular online and mobile networks in each target area.
Automating the video advertising process from creative to distribution helps local businesses to overcome a barrier to entry many think is too great to overcome. The opportunity for local businesses to compete alongside big brands in the video space is a major step forward.
There are countless other solutions coming to market that automate various local media platforms. When evaluating which media make the most sense to leverage, local businesses and marketers should explore automated solutions that will help deliver advertising results at a more affordable price.
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