Q&A with LBN’s Director of Client Services Mandy Stonerock.
It’s easy for a company with digital presence to feel like a little fish in a big, big ocean when there’s more than 280 million Internet users in the United States. Allocating budgets, being discovered, getting the click, scoring that conversion – it can be daunting, especially when you’re a multi-location national or regional brand with location-specific business goals. Getting swept out to sea isn’t an option, so how do you make the ocean feel more like a pond – and become the big fish? By utilizing effective, measurable, local digital marketing strategies that perform for your specific category and consumer base.
In a Q&A with LBN’s Director of Client Services Mandy Stonerock, we tackle why local digital marketing matters for multi-location businesses, and what stakeholders at the local and national levels should be thinking about.
What are the benefits of local digital marketing in today's fragmented, mobile environment?
Local digital marketing should be looked at as a critical layer in a marketing strategy that supports and enhances the performance of online, offline or mobile campaigns. There is always an opportunity for businesses to capture customers, there just isn’t one clear-cut way to do it anymore – especially when almost 60% of searches are happening on mobile. At any point you can lose the moment of decision to your competition. Local digital gives companies better control over where they appear, who they appear to, and with what information. Companies like Google and Facebook all have platforms that give brands visibility, right? We take that to the next level by integrating technologies and the right solutions so that brands and specific locations have better control over their visibility and how it performs.
With that in mind, how does a location owner or marketing team figure out the strategy that’s right for their locations?
The right strategy creates multiple opportunities and methods for new and existing customers to interact with a business and achieve the outcome you want, which is them choosing your product or service. The right strategy should take into consideration specific business objectives and measuring against those at a granular level – schedule an appointment, calls, coupon prints, find a location – valuable actions of that nature. It’s limitless. Because the options for local businesses to market their products or services can be overwhelming, it’s important for a brand or business to know what is absolutely necessary…essentially, where to start, maintain, and how to measure.
The menu of technologies and partner options is a lot to interpret and sift through. How does a company do it all?
Tech can be intimidating – it’s sometimes confusing and can change pretty quickly. Business owners or marketing teams shouldn’t have to worry about knowing every technology or how to execute every platform such as AdWords, native platforms or call scoring tools. That’s too much to ask of internal teams, even location mangers. It’s our job to work in a seamless, integrated fashion with them, and to take this niche “know-how” off their plate so they can focus on other priorities.
No one is required to take courses or get certifications in order to work with us. We work with our clients to educate them as best as possible, or to take it completely off their plate. It’s their call. Ultimately, it comes down to trust in your account services. To me, it’s very important that my teams and I instill and maintain that trust. One of my favorite things in working with clients is I want them to learn. Whether it’s how the levers are being pulled or a new insight into what’s delivering their results. We are prepared to provide that view and we can help educate beyond what they already know. In a relationship like this, clients are likely to trust you and value your experience. This should be a goal with every client/partner relationship.
What makes managing local digital marketing efficient and attainable for companies whether they have five locations or hundreds?
A local digital strategy can be scalable and efficient. Budgets don’t have to take major hits, and the results from your other media can accelerate. It really comes down to having local strategists who have the category expertise and processes in place to meet the needs of your business structure and goals. For example, at LBN, we specialize in helping brands with multiple locations market their local stores for a reason. We do a good job of balancing brand interest and local stores’ interest and goals, and can do this with minimal effort or work from the business owner or local managers. Two key elements that have made what we do effective and possible for the businesses we work with, regardless of the amount of locations they have, are: 1) our approach that uses multiple methods to emphasize budgets at different levels with different goals in mind, and 2) our ability to understand how to work with different business and management structures. This includes local stores or offices, co-ops, or companies with regional and national involvement. We have category expertise and can create custom digital marketing solutions for all clients.
Our data and campaign performance over the past decade shows that this approach makes local digital scalable, reliable, and an easy-to-execute channel for small or enterprise-level businesses. Our client services team ensures that every client is on-boarded and launched with ease. With heavy experience working with local businesses, we know how to get campaigns up and running successfully using a proprietary technology solution and hands-on optimization to drive customers to a location. Throughout the program, we are constantly focused on results at the local store level, so a location can have peace of mind about how their digital is performing for them, in concert with any broader company or brand objectives that exist.
What challenges do companies with multiple locations face most when it comes to connecting with consumers locally, and how can they overcome them?
Brands with multiple locations or franchises are constantly struggling with the balance of brand marketing vs. local marketing when it comes to digital advertising. Brands have a duty to market their brand effectively, but also have a responsibility to effectively market their individual locations as well.
Many brands become so focused on national or regional advertising that they leave local store marketing behind, forcing store owners or franchisees to “figure it out” on their own. Brands would benefit most from a consistent message and advertising across all levels: national, regional and local. Our solution helps brands accomplish this while driving customers into their local stores.
Looking at specific channels and tools, search marketing is an important piece of a digital marketing campaign, but an effective strategy requires much more than that. Can you explain?
For a local business, SEM campaign is the core of their digital marketing strategy. It is the pull strategy used to attract new customers that are in need of their products or services. All other digital marketing avenues are more of a push strategy – social, display, remarketing, video, etc. They help emphasize the brand of the local business and can impact new business in the long run, but SEM is targeting customers who are in need – now. Looking beyond search to other important elements of a local marketing strategy, such as call scoring or review monitoring, digital marketing cannot be a fragmented part of the business. If a business chooses to do these things, these elements can and should work together for optimal results. Each tactic represents a different lever to pull, but if they’re not all used in an integrated fashion it can quickly result in wasted budgets and effort. And no marketer wants that.
There's discussion lately about the increase of mobile usage having a negative impact on ad viewability. What does this mean for brands and their readiness to be discovered when a customer has a need and then looks online for a good or service?
Viewability is a concern for any digital marketer, and it isn’t going away any time soon. One of the best things companies can do to minimize viewability concerns is to ensure they have the right information, location, and other key messages out there so that when a customer discovers them, they find accurate information and are in the best situation to engage with a business. Mobile usage will continue to increase as phones get bigger and people do more research and decision making on the move, so businesses need to think about how they’re being discovered. Actively executing SEM on the major search engines, confidently having their local business listings updated with correct info, and unique, up-to-date content on their website will help ensure digital marketing is working hard for their business.
Where are consumers today? How should companies be thinking beyond making a connection, to the moment a consumer makes a decision and chooses them?
We all know customers are everywhere and attention spans are short, so businesses don’t have it easy. Gone are the days of reaching a customer only through traditional TV, radio, print or out of home advertising. With the exponential growth in mobile usage customers are always on; therefore, local businesses need to be always available. They need to embrace it or get left behind. It sounds exhausting, I know, but customers aren’t only looking for products and services during business hours, they are looking at all hours. Advertising platforms like Facebook, Instagram, local directories & YouTube allow business to be found 24/7. Companies can make the always-on approach work for them by being real and reachable. This means saying what they mean and what the customer needs to hear. Be straightforward and communicate the benefit for the customer. Consumers today want to know the business they are interacting with, or if it’s affiliated with another company, for example. They want to know what they’re getting. Using the mediums available through local digital marketing gives businesses the opportunity to tell the customer why they should choose them, and supports what they’re doing on Facebook, YouTube or other channels so those efforts aren’t wasted, but reinforced.
So what’s ahead? What trends in local digital marketing should brands be aware of?
Businesses should ask themselves what they are doing beyond the sale. How are they embracing the relationship with a customer after the initial connection? Someone comes in, buys a soda and a sandwich and leaves. You want them to come back, and to do so, brands need to create residual personal moments.
One trend that I firmly believe will help all local businesses generate new customers and keep them coming back is relationship building with their customer base. People inherently want to be connected to other people and connected to businesses. This is why Facebook is so widely popular – it connects people with people. Sites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat also connect people with businesses, which is a great marketing and customer base building strategy that all local businesses could benefit from. Companies should reply to reviews written by their customers, setup email distribution lists, even send hand written thank you notes to their customers – thanking them for choosing you. The more personal and relevant ways you connect with your customers, the greater the odds you’ll you create a relationship that turns into a multiple-transaction customer.
Mandy Stonerock is LBN's Director of Client Services. With 10 years of digital marketing experience, Mandy will tell you that her favorite part about working with clients is the opportunity to help them and their business when it comes to digital marketing, and the personal relationship that develops along with it. Connect with Mandy on LinkedIn