How to Choose the Superior Localized Marketing Platform
Managing marketing efforts across 100s or 1,000s of business locations is no easy task. You not only have this number of locations, but each local location is managing six or more marketing channels, with many of those channels consisting of multiple networks, you suddenly have thousands or tens of thousands of pages across hundreds of channels representing your brand that need to be managed. It is precisely this complexity that makes multi-location marketing one of the most complex and sophisticated tasks in marketing.
So, how do you choose the right localized marketing platform for your multi-location business? You might have hesitated to move forward with selecting a localized marketing platform because you don’t have the time and resources to research and vet various platforms, and risk potentially choosing the wrong one.
We’ll share what areas you need to focus on to choose the superior localized marketing platform within this blog. If your multi-location business is already leveraging a localized marketing platform, you can still get perspective on whether the platform you’re currently using is best suited for your localized marketing efforts.
1. The Functionality of the Platform
The first and probably most important thing to consider when choosing a localized marketing platform is functionality. While functionality can sound vague, there are certain capabilities to keep in mind that are crucial for localized marketing.
Well-Rounded Local Search and Local Social Capabilities
Insight from our study with Forrester, The Localized Marketing Imperative, found gaps between teams, processes, or systems are common and can limit the visibility, collaboration, and coordination that firms sorely need to scale localized marketing. A tangled management approach also contributes to disjointed localized marketing understanding: Firms are more likely to manage certain localized marketing activities in-house (like responding to social comments and questions) while agencies are more likely to handle others (like non-owned local page optimization). Then there are those activities that fall completely through the cracks (31% don’t manage local paid social at all). There are many point solutions out there that help you manage local search, local reviews, or local social efforts, but have you ever thought about choosing a platform that could consolidate?
Many multi-location marketers use one platform for reputation management, while they’ll use something else for social media. This usually leads to the gaps mentioned above. A cohesive localized marketing platform that can consolidate your marketing efforts is key. After all, our 2021 Localized Marketing Benchmark Report found that leaders in both local search and social grew 3x faster than their peers.
Local search includes but is not limited to reputation management tactics, local SEO efforts, local pages, and local listings. On the other hand, local social focuses more on social media efforts and local advertising. If your multi-location business can find a consolidated tool that provides a way to manage most, if not all, of these tactics, you’re on your way to finding the best localized marketing platform.
A Focus on Both Corporate and Local Usability
Finding a platform that offers both corporate and local usability is a must. A hybrid business model that allows corporate and individual business locations to collaborate on localized marketing efforts is often the most successful, therefore finding a platform that offers this is crucial. For instance, it might be easier for your business locations to manage local social efforts, but it should be up to corporate to ensure that all local listings are updated and accurate. There should also be functionalities that allow corporate to have oversight into local businesses’ marketing efforts. The easier it is for both corporate and local businesses to leverage the platform, the better.
Must Streamline Marketing Processes
A platform that can save your business both time and effort is a duh must-have, but what does this mean in the context of localized marketing?. It’s important to ask questions about whether or not there are any marketing automation features provided in the localized marketing platform. For instance, is there a way to streamline review responses? Can your business update all its local listings automatically? Are there pre-written social posts your business can choose from? These are just a few examples of the types of questions you should ask when considering streamlined functionality.
2. Customer Support
While functionality is critical, you won’t get very far without customer support. When choosing a platform, it’s essential to understand what onboarding would look like for you and your local locations. Is your multi-location business going to be given login credentials and left to figure out the rest on your own? Will you have a specific customer success manager that you can go to with any questions about the tool? What is the response time like when you do run into an issue? These are all questions to consider when thinking about customer support. And don’t forget to drink your own kool-aid – check out trusted B2B review platforms, like Trustpilot and G2 to get real-world feedback from customers, like you.
Don’t sell yourself short. If your multi-location business is taking the time to vet and select, and ultimately invest in a localized marketing platform, the customer support should meet or exceed your expectations. Asking about customer support early on in the process of selecting a localized marketing platform will help you decide whether it’s worth your investment. If the customer support is there, you can move on to the next item you should consider.
3. Reporting and Analytics
Enter, reporting and analytics. To understand if your localized marketing efforts are performing well, you have to track your success. The option to leverage reporting and analytics within your localized marketing platform is a must. If not, how will your business be able to determine whether the platform was worth the investment?
Before choosing a platform, your multi-location business should choose which metrics matter to your success. Are you more concerned about cost per click on social media advertising, review response improvements, more positive online sentiment surrounding your business, or does your ranking on Google matter more? Once you have a list of which metrics your business needs to track, you can compare that with various platforms’ reporting and analytics offerings. While a platform might not track every one of your metrics, you have to determine the most important metrics to your business.
This one probably goes without saying. Price is always something to consider when choosing any platform or solution. Considering cost doesn’t mean selecting the platform with the lowest price tag, but it doesn’t mean ensuring that your multi-location business is getting the most out of your marketing dollars. If the marketing platform includes various products that allow you to manage your local search and social efforts, it will likely be more expensive than a platform that is solely focused on local social. However, when you consider the cost of separate tools, the consolidated platforms that offer various search and social products under a single login are more affordable than having different platforms for different areas of localized marketing. Additionally, consider the platform’s pricing structure. Do they charge by account or login? For a multi-location business, selecting a price by account, versus cost per user, the structure is far more affordable when you consider the number of local logins that you require.
It’s up to you to do your research and understand if the pricing structure of a localized marketing platform makes sense for your multi-location business. Comparing pricing based on the functionality of different platforms is an excellent way to get an idea of what the typical localized marketing platform will cost. It’s also wise to think about your return on investment (ROI). While one platform might cost more upfront, will it get you a better ROI in the long run? If so, it might be worth the added cost.
5. Customer Success Stories
Customer success stories play an essential role in choosing the best localized marketing platform. Does the software provide customer success stories that share real examples of how a localized marketing platform impacted their business’s marketing efforts? For instance, if your business is focused on its local social strategy and sees that a specific platform helped a customer increase its high-valued engagement across business locations by 50 percent, it should help you feel more confident in it.
When looking at customer success stories, it’s also essential to look at the featured customers. If your business has over 1000 business locations, but all of the customers featured in success stories have no more than 10 locations, it might not be the best fit. Similarly, do the customers featured all fall within the same industry? If so, this is something to consider. While you shouldn’t expect to get the same results as those featured in customer success stories, they can give you a good indication of whether or not the platform will be able to meet your business’s goals.
Localized marketing platforms need actual data to back up their claims, and customer success stories do precisely that. While it’s not a deal-breaker if you fall in love with a localized marketing platform and they don’t have any customer success stories, it’s something to be wary of. In addition to looking at customer success stories, as we mentioned above, you can also look at the platform’s online ratings and reviews. Ratings and reviews have become a top-ranking factor and the #1 factor in determining which company a consumer chooses for business. In order to make an informed decision, your business must fully understand what other companies are saying about the platform and determine if it aligns with your business’s needs.
Now that you have the tools needed to select the right localized marketing platform for your business, it’s time to begin your search! If you don’t know where to start, consider SOCi. SOCi is the central command for multi-location marketers and the all-in-one platform for your localized marketing needs. From ratings and reviews to local listings, digital advertising, and local social, SOCi has you covered. SOCi is ready to help your business crush the competition and dominate your industry. For more information on how SOCi is the superior localized marketing platform, request a demo today!