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In 2013, 47.3% of national brands expect to spend more on local marketing than they did this year, according to [download page] a new study from Balihoo, while an additional 44% plan to spend the same. Just 8.6% plan to cut back on local marketing spend in 2013, slightly less than the 11.1% that plan to cut back on national marketing funds. Balihoo reported in a May 2012 study that national brands were polarized as to their levels of local investment: 29% allocated just 1-5% of their overall marketing budgets to local initiatives, but 21% invested a quarter or more.

According to the latest report, brands will be placing an emphasis on digital marketing, which 67.5% of respondents rate as very or extremely important to their local efforts. Asked what digital marketing tactics they currently use, most pointed to social media other than Facebook (e.g. Twitter and LinkedIn, used by 75.5%); Facebook (69.3%); and search engine optimization (SEO, 66.2%).

The top 3 they’d like to add in 2013 are mobile marketing (used by 32%, with 35.4% planning to add it); local blogs (26% using; 31.5% planning to add) and online customer reviews (22.1% using and 31% planning use). Other tactics on the slate for 2013 include local search registration (with 19.53% planning to add it), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising (19.01%), localized websites (16.15%) and digital display advertising (14.06%).

National Brands Mixed On Affiliate Marketing

Further details from Balihoo’s latest report, “Research Micro Study: National Brand Use of Digital in Local Marketing,” suggests that of the 51.3% of national brands that rely upon local affiliates (e.g., dealers, agents, resellers, retailers, franchisees), just 4% rate their affiliates as excellent at marketing, while a 47% plurality rank affiliates as moderately effective.

Fully 87% of those using affiliates said their brands are not well represented on affiliates’ websites. Two of their top complaints about affiliate sites are poor brand visibility (47.8%) and substandard sites (30%). Asked to name their affiliates’ top marketing weaknesses, these respondents named mobile marketing (53.4%), SEO (49.4%), and PPC (46.6%) as the most significant.

Other Findings:

  • Larger national brands of $500 million or more in annual revenues tend to use a wider mix of digital tactics than do smaller national brands of revenues between $100 million and $250 million.
  • Only 22.6% of respondents are currently using local search registration and only 19.5% ranked it as a priority for 2013.
  • A larger percentage of smaller national brands ($100M – $250M) are using Facebook and other Social Media (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) than the larger national brands ($500M+).

About The Data: The study was fielded via email surveys distributed August 1 – Sept 10, 2012. Results are based on 384 completed responses from individual companies. Respondents met the criteria of marketing professional, companies based in North America, companies with $100 million or greater annual revenue.

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