Have you checked the health of your local search automation tools? Do you understand what automation tools will provide for your brand? According to a recently published Forrester Consulting report, “Uncovering the Benefits of Local Search Marketing,” automation tools are critical to local search success. As a provider of a local search automation tool, we could not agree more — so long as you have the right expectations of local search automation tools.
“Uncovering the Benefits of Local Search Marketing,” sponsored by SIM Partners and written by Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk, surveyed a select group of senior marketers of multi-location brands to assess their approach to local search marketing and their perception of it. The report revealed that local search efforts of major brands are hampered by factors such as limited search experience. Forrester also identified a stumbling block that jumped out at us: a failure to embrace automation tools. “Lack of automation also hampers local search sophistication,” wrote VanBoskirk. “Most interviewees don’t know what tools specific to local search are available.” She went on to recommend that marketers adopt a local marketing automation tool set in order to take the best advantage of local search.
We might add that lack of automation not only hampers a brand but also puts it at a serious competitive disadvantage to businesses that do understand the value of automation. Local search automation tools help you achieve an important objective: scale your local customer acquisition efforts. As VanBoskirk wrote, “The challenge of scale at the local level is a real one, and one that will become more complex as media proliferates and competition in the local space heats up. Tools that specialize in feed accuracy, content optimization at scale, and web and social media templates can offload otherwise manual effort while also maximizing your visibility. For example, using a full-scale local program to master location web presence and meet the most “ready to engage” consumer market can increase the number of visitors coming from a mobile device, leading to more of these visitors taking action to engage with the location by getting map directions or directly calling the location.”
Marketers who use automation tools enjoy benefits ranging from brand lift to stronger customer acquisition efforts. But it’s also important to know what local search tools are not. A local search automation tool is not a substitute for a local search-marketing program — you still need good old-fashioned human wisdom and judgment to run a local marketing program. And a local search automation tool is not a “set it and forget it” option. In fact, a good automation tool will identify opportunities for you to anticipate and respond to changing market conditions, quickly and at scale.
If you lack a local search automation tool, now is the time to get one (don’t take our word for it — research third-party sources such as Forrester to understand why you need one). If you own a tool already, make sure you are maximizing its value to scale your local search efforts (as opposed to simply automating processes) and to allow you to sense and respond quickly to change.
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