Whether your business consists of a few stores in your city or a nationwide chain, your customers are going to want to shop in the store closest to their homes or work. They think locally, so to get the best success for your brick-and-mortar businesses, you need to reach them locally. This has two aspects: First, you need to be on the right directories so your customers can find your stores, and second, you have to show your customers that you understand the situations and needs of the area in which your store resides. Local level automation software can help with both.
We looked at two different types of local level automation companies. Some, like Moz Local, are concerned with automating your business's placement in directories like Yelp so that people can find your store and get accurate contact information. Others, like SproutLoud, are concerned with coordinating national marketing on a local level, assisting the individual stores to create advertising that keeps a local flavor while adhering to the national brand and message. Of these national-level companies, a couple also automate local directory entries. A few of the companies focus on large enterprises, while others are for small businesses with only a couple of branches.
Local Level Automation: What to Look For
These companies offer a diverse range of services, and price accordingly. What you choose depends on your budget as well as your needs. Several offer package deals, while some can tailor a program for your needs. Here are some of the most common uses for local level marketing automation and some of the ways these companies tackle them:
Placement in Local Directories
Local small businesses depend on having accurate information on the internet. People increasingly turn to the internet to find businesses, not only for directions to the store, but also for restaurant phone numbers to order takeout or make reservations, or for a general search of a nearby business that can fulfill their need. There are hundreds of directories online that offer this information. Some, like Yelp and Google, have national or global reach, while others are locally based.
Most businesses strive to be on several directories, but this can get complicated when you have multiple locations. With local level automation software, you can manage all your accounts for all your locations through one service so that if a phone number or address changes, you can input the information once and have all the directories uploaded. Six of the services we looked can handle local directories. For some, like Synup and Universal Business Listing, this is the primary function of the software.
Marketing Campaign Coordination
Having a focused, unified message is key to a strong business identity. Local level automation companies, like Distribion and Brandmuscle, focus on brand compliance with campaign coordination software that can hold shared items like official logos, allow a process for approving campaigns and distribute co-op marketing funds. Mindmatrix takes it a step further by helping you create a company playbook in order to ensure all your locations are working with the same directives when creating their own advertising campaigns. Several, like Pica9, have homepage creation software so that your individual locations can have their own local website that still adheres to the company branding and design.
Most software can coordinate email or direct mail campaigns so that flyers can go out over multiple locations with the contact information of the closest branch. A few automate campaigns for you, so you can set them to run on automatic. For example, campaigns can be set so that in November, customers near your Idaho store see ads for snow boots, while those in Phoenix see running shoes. Balihoo has local pay-per-click automation.
National Monitoring for the Local Level
Regardless of whether the service is feeding directories or helping you manage large-scale campaigns, nearly all offered some kind of monitoring. Eight of the 10 companies we profile have social media monitoring and analysis. Yext adds review monitoring as well. Monitoring helps your business's headquarters as well as your local businesses keep track of the buzz, determine the success or failure of specific campaigns, and find the topics and posts that engage customers the most.
Local level marketing automation covers several bases. The software can simply keep your local directory entries current, or you can get software and services that help you keep your business marketing campaigns coordinated and on track across all your locations, whether you have three stores in one town or hundreds of branches across the globe.
Balihoo provides local level marketing automation software and services for large companies with multiple locations. It focuses on coordinating campaigns in order to improve efficiency among smaller stores and ensure compliance with the national brand.
Balihoo offers local website creation so that each location has an online presence that not only gives its specific information but also provides a hub through which you can track, measure and analyze marketing tactics. The tool makes it easy to update, not only if a local store has a change of information, but if your company has an update – a brand-wide sale, for example. Local websites also make it easier for your company to be found by people searching for something in a particular location. According to its website, Balihoo customers report up to a 930 percent return on investment and a 124 percent increase in traffic after using the local websites feature.
To keep all your branches adhering to the overall company image, Balihoo's Local Partner Connect lets your local stores customize national campaigns, update their local websites and get funding from the national or regional office. In addition, it allows you to share individual zip-code-level results with your local stores.
Balihoo can develop brand-specific paid search and pay-per-click ads and location-specific keywords for each affiliate. This improves the efficiency of your campaigns and allows them to target the needs of your customers in ways appropriate to their location. For example, clothing store ads will match the needs of the local weather, while sporting goods might promote items featuring the home team for each branch.
This service also coordinates entries to directories so you can ensure your stores are well represented in the directories of your choice and that the information stays accurate. However, this is not Balihoo's top focus.
Balihoo works with large companies in industry and manufacturing, with agencies like marketing or insurance, and with retailers that have a regional or national chain. In addition to the services it provides, it offers eBooks, case studies, and webinars on its site that educate you on marketing on a national and local level.
Brandmuscle provides comprehensive local level automation services for large corporations with coordinated campaign features, brand-compliance tools, automated marketing and co-op funds coordination software. In addition, it handles placement in local directories as well as social media monitoring and analysis.
The core of this company's services lies in the BrandBuilder program. This marketing platform helps you balance corporate oversight of campaigns with local marketing needs. It combines ad building, print on demand materials, local media planning and purchase, and co-op funds management.
If your company gets a lot of return on investment from television or video spots, this software allows your local affiliates to tag national commercials with their local information so that even though the main commercial is the one produced at the corporate level, people are directed to their nearest store. By automating this and giving local affiliates control, you reduce production time and costs while getting the product out more quickly.
Brandmuscle provides management of marketing co-op funds, including planning, budgeting, approval review and auditing services. It manages an average of $1 billion annually, so it has extensive experience. It also provides multiple tools for analyzing marketing campaigns, whether PPC, social media, opt-in page campaigns or dealer/partner ventures.
This service offers a suite of tools specifically to make local online marketing easy. These tools include website and landing page customization, social media advertising and mobile advertising. It has email marketing campaign management tools that let local branches adapt national templates for localized campaigns. If you've found direct mail gives you good return on investment, Brandmuscle's tools let your local stores upload, download or rent mailing lists or generate one from the corporate records, then segment those lists as needed and create brand-compliant flyers.
You can also use this system to manage your entries to local directories. These are important for local business marketing because many people depend on internet search and directories to find businesses in their area. If the information for your individual locations is not accurate, you could lose sales.
Brandmuscle works with a large range of industries, including automotive, beverage, convenience and retail stores, financial services, health care, non-profits and more. It offers demos of each of these services, and it can combine specific tools into a package deal to meet the needs of your company.
Distribion offers flexible local level marketing automation and services. It can work with small businesses with only a couple of locations or large corporations spread across the nation. It can also tailor its services to handle a single project or to manage your long-term marketing.
Rather than simply offering pre-packaged services, Distribion begins by discussing your marketing desires and goals and then tailors a service plan to deliver the best results. It can also provide consulting services to help you assess your current needs, make reasonable goals for your marketing automation and establish key points for measuring success.
If you know your needs, Distribion offers packaged local level automation services. For example, it can track and manage coordinated campaigns on multiple distribution channels. With this automation software, you can personalize the materials, customize them for specific stores and deliver them to designated areas or lists. This package also has analytics built in, so you can see who interacted with your marketing materials and who responded to your calls to action. You can then tweak the messages for optimization. Distribion has packages to create and schedule campaigns as well.
The automation interface allows you to maintain brand consistency while individualizing campaigns to your local stores' situations. It can automatically manage co-op marketing funds, saving employee hours, and conduct social media monitoring and analysis. Further, it has tools to let you create localized home pages. That way, your individual stores can have an internet presence with their own unique information, making it more likely that their website (and thus, your business) shows up in searches. Further, it encourages customers to shop at these stores, where a single, conglomerate website might cause potential customers to click away rather than search for a nearby outlet.
This local level automation software has open APIs so you can integrate it with your other business software. The software is SAS 70, Type II compliant and does nightly data backups to keep your information secure. You can also set user permissions, brand the software to your company and create custom templates. Distribion provides training on the software and can help upload and modify existing materials so that you don't need to start from scratch.
Mindmatrix provides sales enablement software for local level automation of marketing campaigns and channels. The purpose of this software is to enable independent representatives and salespeople to find and engage prospects. It offers 22 areas of coordination to help you save time and money managing your marketing and training.
The software provides several ways to ensure brand compliance. First, it helps you create a marketing playbook that gives your representatives all the company information and sales tools they need to promote your products. These include FAQs from customers. Next, it provides software so your representatives can access the playbooks and record their sales activities so you have a complete view of who your reps are reaching and how well they are succeeding. The software also provides branded but personalized channel-marketing assets. This lets your local reps create advertising while sticking to the company brand. It can also automate marketing campaigns via social media or email.
The Mindmatrix channel management solution helps you coordinate with all your associates. You can run corporate ad campaigns while getting local leads and launch products internally and to your consumers. With it, you can optimize follow through on sales leads, create personalized marketing materials and create a central hub for local marketing.
This software also coordinates training, not only for new salespeople but also for dealers and distributors. With a centralized training portal, you can ensure all your employees and associates are adhering to the company standards and norms. Finally, it provides automated lead scoring, so your salespeople can concentrate on the best prospects. Combined with monitoring of performance and personalized marketing, it can help increase deal closings and upsell rates.
Mindmatrix has a strong mobile component, which is important, as most mobile searches are locally centered. It has tools for using mobile technology to announce new products, conduct surveys or contests, and set alerts for announcing local sales via mobile devices.
This software integrates with over 15 customer resource management programs such as Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics. Mindmatrix helps free your marketing team of repetitive tasks, plus it gives your salespeople a standard and accessible playbook from which to operate. These can help save time and money for your company.
Moz Local is local level automation software geared toward one thing: making sure your local listings are accurate and current no matter what directory they appear on. It's a simple software that can nonetheless relieve you of hours of tedious fact-checking across multiple platforms, and if you combine it with the SEO optimization and analytics of Moz Pro, you have strong tools for enhancing your marketing and visibility on the internet.
Moz Local works with the top five aggregators of local data in the U.S. and the four main aggregators for the U.K. When you put in the business information for each of your locations, the software loads that to the aggregators, which feed into directories, search engines, even Pinterest and local search apps. That way, you only need to put the information in once, and it's found everywhere. This is especially useful when you have many locations. Moz Local also emails you periodic reminders to check your information. This is especially handy in case you have a move or phone number change but forget to update your new info. In addition, you don't need to pay a fee to each aggregator to load and monitor your information. Moz Local does it all for a single fee.
Getting on the local directories is only part of the marketing battle, however. You want to have your online information, from your website to your social media, optimized for search so that people looking for the kinds of products and services you offer not only find your company but the branch or store in their area.
Moz Pro offers analytic tools for keyword rankings, link health, social activity and success of anchor text. It can analyze your web pages in Chrome and Firefox to help you determine the popularity of your pages, and it can give you comparisons to your competitors. It can analyze and segment Twitter followers to help you determine what posts best engage your audience and what locations have the most potential customers. It has other specialized tools for checking rank, discovering keywords, and testing your web pages for broken links and other factors that can influence how well a search engine can access your website.
Moz is a well-known company for SEO tools and tactics. Moz Local and Moz Pro both help automate local level small business marketing and online performance.
Pica9 provides local level automation for marketing campaigns for businesses with multiple locations. It does not manage local listings in directories, but it offers tools to coordinate campaigns, share approved materials for brand consistency, and manage communication loops, including approvals and funding requests.
Pica9's CampaignDrive platform gives you the tools you and your local stores need for a variety of marketing tasks. It offers a drag-and-drop platform for creating print materials or email newsletters, complete with editing tools. You can create a library of brand-approved logos, images and text that your local affiliates can access. Users can send emails directly through Pica9's system, making it even easier to deploy a campaign.
The software lets you create customized landing pages and web banners. These allow your individual stores to have a customized presence with their specific contact information and location-specific details while still keeping a cogent brand image among all your stores. The landing pages and web banners are in HTML5 and are mobile friendly.
You can help manage workflow through the system as well. CampaignDrive has built-in approval loops and multi-channel capabilities. You can set up processes for approving campaigns, setting budgets or sending co-op funds. The co-op funds can be used through the Pica9 system to order marketing materials from your headquarters as well.
CampaignDrive also includes analysis software that lets you track activity, such as email campaigns or sales. It can show figures by success level, templates used, regions, specific locations or other demographics you choose. You can see the information on the dashboard, download graphs or record the data.
This local business marketing software strives to be user friendly, employing the same kind of interfaces and technologies used by popular design software, social media and photo gallery programs. It's also mobile friendly, so your associates can use it on tablets or smart phones.
Pica9 is targeted for larger companies with multiple locations and is priced accordingly. It does not charge a set-up fee, and it allows for unlimited users and templates. You can contract by the month or annually. If you'd like to see the software in action first, you can request a live demo or get a hands-on trial.
SproutLoud offers local level automation for larger businesses with multiple stores or branches. The flexible platform lets you coordinate campaigns, create local homepages and web forms, and manage and sort contacts, including phone calls.
With SproutLoud's marketing platform, you can manage your brand, including logos, taglines and slogans. Its homepage creation software allows local branches of your business to build customized portals to the company's information, such as menus or catalogs, while having its own location-specific contact information and specializations. It also has a corporate-access feature so that special promotions can be fed directly to all websites without having to depend on each location to revise its own website.
SproutLoud can set you up with an asset catalog so that your local associates can grab the graphics or information they need when designing their own materials for a campaign or promotion. You can create an online store of the marketing materials, such as customized business card holders, T-shirts or even supplies, so that it's easy for your stores to order the physical items they need. SproutLoud arranges delivery of the items as well.
This marketing automation platform also allows you to manage contacts centrally while maximizing the local angle. The list management function can sort by location, and phone automation picks up local cues to direct callers to the nearest store. It manages contact lists for local or multi-location campaigns.
You can analyze the success of campaigns on a local or national level. For example, it determines the success of campaigns based on the calls generated by applying unique phone numbers to each campaign. It can also gauge the success of other campaigns based on your key objectives, either at the overall level or the local.
You can create and manage funding cooperatives so that local branches have efficient access to their advertising budget from headquarters. It has API integration so you can tie SproutLoud to other business software.
This local level marketing automation does not handle coordinating information to local directories on the web.
SproutLoud works best for large companies with multiple locations that do a lot of coordinated marketing. In addition to coordination features, like homepage creation and campaign management, it allows you to set up an online store for marketing materials and tags campaigns with local markers so you can measure success.
Synup focuses on monitoring your business's listings and reviews rather than on coordinating marketing campaigns. If you have multiple locations in your region or across the U.S., however, it provides a convenient dashboard for monitoring listings, making updates and tracking customer reviews on local directories.
With this local level automation software, you can track listings for your companies on up to 200 sites that Synup monitors. It does regular crawling to help you ensure your information is accurate. Where it isn't, or where it has changed, you can make the corrections on all the directories via a single dashboard entry. You can also merge listings where a directory might have a duplicate. This helps safeguard your search results from being split between two entries, which can negatively affect your ranking.
In addition to monitoring listings, this local business marketing software aggregates all your online reviews to a central location, so you can see what your customers think of your products or of the service at a specific location without having to scour all the review sites. Synup monitors over 20 review sites such as Yelp, Google and Yahoo, as well as industry-specific sites like TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon. Synup notifies you as soon as a new review pops up, so you can respond to it as quickly as possible.
Finally, this software has a tool for monitoring your rankings on search engines. It covers not only the major search engines like Google or Bing, but also local ranking sites like Yelp, Yellowpages and Citysearch – nine rankings in all. It not only provides general ranking, but also by geographic region. Synup uses location-specific IP addresses to track location as well as keyword tracking.
Synup offers a free general plan that covers some monitoring, and then has three add-ons that cover the specific tools for enhanced list monitoring, review monitoring and ranking. You can purchase one or all of these tools on a monthly basis.
Synup's local level automation software does not coordinate marketing campaigns among your individual affiliates. However, it provides inexpensive monitoring of your listings, reviews and rankings on multiple search engines and directories to help you ensure your businesses are seen and seen in favorably.
Universal Business Listing is a local level marketing automation service that distributes your business profiles across multiple outlets. It does not assist in coordinating campaigns or ensuring brand consistency. However, keeping your information on the internet accurate is an important part of any local business's marketing strategy.
This service allows you to create and distribute your business information for each of your associates. It sends them to major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, plus directories like Yelp. It also feeds into online yellow pages, including Yellowpages, Yellowbook and Superpages, and to portals like MapQuest and Citysearch. In addition, it distributes the information to mobile apps for all smartphone operating systems, 411 directory service and in-car GPS systems. It has a thorough list of venues where it submits your information.
It cannot make changes where your listing is already claimed, but it can create an alternative citation or citations. These act as votes for relevancy in a local search. Thus, with additional votes, your business may outrank the already-claimed listing in a web search.
In addition, it allows you to create a webcard, a simple webpage with your business profile, that works as a calling card online, helping to increase your search ranking and online visibility. You can add the webcard to your business site or use it as the business webpage for your specific locations. The webcard is mobile friendly as well.
You get reports to track and measure your visibility online, which includes directories, social sites, local sites and other mentions. Universal Business Listing provides links to the citations so you can see where your traffic comes from. The company also provides reports on the specific work it has done, including new listings and profiles. You can find this report in your dashboard.
This local marketing automation service works for small or large businesses. It offers three plan levels, each building upon the other. The first level begins with simple syndication of your business listings, but promises an increase in numbers and visibility within three months. The next provides password-protected ownership of your profiles on major search sites and a verified presence on directories. The highest plan offers these plus search engine optimization capabilities and a 30-second video for your website.
Whether your business has one location or thousands, Yext provides local level automation and marketing programs to help your business build on its local marketing efforts.
First, Yext can help you coordinate your entries into local search directories so that when someone looks up your business on the web, they find up-to-date contact and location information. In addition, it monitors reviews on these directories, such as on Yelp, Facebook and Citysearch. You can get notifications customized by location in order to analyze customer feedback and the performance of your individual stores or branches. It also analyzes the search results and customer views on your pages to help you optimize your online resources.
Like many of the local level marketing platforms we looked at, this one does local website creation and ties them into its location management platform so if one of your stores moves or changes its phone, the new contact information is automatically reflected in all applicable websites. It offers a store locator that works as a mobile app as well.
The mobile app can do more than provide the location and store information. The Xone platform lets you set up spaces in your store that trigger the app to send specific messages. You can welcome customers as they enter the store or send suggestions or coupons for specific items that are triggered when they enter that part of the store.
Yext has search engine optimization features to help maximize the success of your websites, including your mobile apps.
The business marketing platform lets you coordinate campaigns to ensure brand compliance. You can store the company images, logos, text or video for local branches to access when creating their own marketing campaigns. You can schedule updates to the text – such as a new sale or pricing information on an item – and it will populate across your pages and screens as you schedule it. You can also set time-sensitive data to expire, such as with a sales price on a particular item.
You can set permissions for local branches so they can access the information they need as well as an online approval process to maintain corporate management of the campaigns run by your local businesses.
Yext provides most of the local level automation services that the other services on our lineup do: local directory automation, homepage creation and marketing campaign management. In addition, it has the Xone mobile app software that lets you customize messages for customers within your individual stores.