Study Reveals Brand Marketers Mostly Clueless And Inept At Localization

national-local reportE-commerce in the US was worth something approaching $300 billion (comScore says $289 billion) in 2012. Offline commerce (goods + services) was worth at least $7 trillion according to US government figures. Local commerce is thus roughly 25x the value of e-commerce.

Activity in local stores generates much more revenue for brands and national marketers than online conversions.

You would think then that national marketers would be working hard to tie their brand campaigns to offline stores and sales efforts. If you did, you would be wrong.

Most national marketers emerge as inept regarding the task of leading consumers from brand advertising to stores where their products can be purchased. This has always been the promise of localized digital marketing. And, 15 years into the Internet era, national brands and agencies are still basically . . . clueless.

While many brands and retailers have a vague understanding of the importance of localizing their marketing efforts, they simply aren’t doing it effectively — if at all. That’s according to a new survey and report entitled “Brand Automation for Location Activation.”

The report was written by the CMO Council and commissioned by Balihoo, which offers local marketing automation for national advertisers.

Perhaps the most surprising (even shocking) finding is the failure of these brand and agency respondents to connect mobile to local or to see mobile as a key part of a localization strategy. Indeed, the majority of survey respondents don’t connect mobile and local:

Mobile low priority

While an anemic 13 percent said that “mobile search is critically important” in driving people into local stores, only 10 percent said that “mobile will become as important as search and social as drivers to local experiences.” This finding alone shows the massive disconnect between current consumer behavior and the marketing savvy and tactics of national marketers.

In fairness to some of these marketers, there are structural or logistical challenges (e.g., executing local campaigns, coordinating with local sales personnel) that plague brands and their agencies’ efforts to effectively localize. But ultimately, there’s very little excuse for the limited market understanding and ineptitude revealed by this study.

Localization is still dominated, for most national marketers, by traditional media: outdoor, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, TV and event sponsorships. The top digital localization strategy employed is the corporate website followed by email.

The following chart reflects these respondents’ complaints about the biggest challenges they face in localizing their marketing campaigns:

national-local challenges

The full report is 75 pages and available here (registration required).

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Features & Analysis | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Online Advertising


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Thomas Rasinen

    Great insight and you’re right. Since geo-targeting was not in the headline, many of those referenced will neglect to read it.

  • RizzoMB

    So if I want was a company that sold something in stores not controlled by me. I would be trying to find ways to get my messaging into these stores.

  • Harsh Bawa

    Localization is still dominated by traditional media: outdoor, newspapers, magazines etc.

    lack of local market intelligence and data is one of the major factor because of which brand marketers are not able to fully exploit local market.

    Apart from this, finding local staff which has the right amount of expertise and knowledge to help exploit local market is something which affects majority of business owners.

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