Community market research to foster more local marketing

NOVEMBER 22, 2011 – Advertisers who are trying to promote a national brand while giving the campaign a hometown, local feel may want to conduct market research by analyzing search engine results and social media websites. This could provide some insight into how regional consumers behave online and help to make marketing efforts more successful, BtoB magazine reports.

“Search engines are getting better at deducing the intent behind search, which is why there’s less of a separation between local and universal search,” Shar VanBoskirk, an analyst at Forrester Research, told the source. As a result, ad agencies and marketers need to become better at deciphering web analytics and using search engines to their advantage, rather than simply seeing them as a channel for posting display ads and other digital content.

The magazine also points to statistics from Google, which showed that 20 percent of all the searches it facilitates are locally focused, and 40 percent of searches conducted on a mobile device are local. In addition to finding out what certain regional markets are looking for, the technology can help provide information on what kinds of products the residents are interested in consuming.

BtoB surveyed several experts to find the primary tactics marketers can use to manipulate national brands and better appeal to city or community audiences, including focusing on the desired function of various kinds of marketing rather than the channel that is used to distribute the copy or ad.

Stephanie Faskow, the digital analytics manager for BGT Partners’ search analysis division, told the magazine that it’s also important to “go back to basics,” and think of the easy ways a company can put a local spin on a broader national campaign. Consistency is also key, whether it be with the overall message or something as basic as the style on a company’s address listing.

Additionally, the source recommends teaming with distributors and channel partners to collaborate on local campaigns. Work together to create online content that includes specific locations – such as in-text references or scenes filmed near landmarks – and discuss “their search strategy and how you can augment it without competing with them, especially when it comes to paid local search,” the magazine says.

Local mobile content and social media are valuable marketing weapons to have in a company’s arsenal, as they increase the size of the potential audience and offer more opportunities for collecting information on regional markets. As a large portion of Google’s mobile searches have a local focus, it makes sense to tailor these campaigns to be viewed on a mobile device – don’t use Flash, and make sure the images are properly sized, Neg Norton of the Local Search Association told the news outlet.

“With the growth of mobile it’s imperative to have a presence that mobile users can actually find and navigate,” Norton added.

Using social networks and other digital channels is vital not only to selling products and services to a local pool of consumers, but can also be valuable in political campaigns. One market research company recently unveiled a social media platform that assists in running political polls through Facebook and Twitter.

“News media and political candidates, like so many businesses, want to infiltrate social media as a way to create conversations and distribute content,” said Jason Cyr, the CEO of Tiipz, in a statement.