LOCAL MARKETING - 10 Key Trends To Watch
Going into 2013, I foresee new products, industry consolidation, and new entrants into the social, local and mobile markets. Here are 10 local marketing predictions:
- The number of SMBs with mobile websites will triple.
More local businesses will adopt mobile-optimized websites as consumers conduct an increasing number of local searches on their mobile devices. The percentage of SMBs with mobile-optimized websites could spike from about 7% to more than 20%.
- Facebook paid advertising will continue to be a flop with most local service businesses.
Paid advertising on Facebook won’t work for the vast majority of local service businesses because most consumers don’t take action when they see ads for plumbers, lawyers, or landscapers in their Facebook friend feed. Facebook will be more effective as a retention tool, though its new “nearby” search tool may make it a player for retail-based local businesses.
- Sales will be the new leads.
The number of sales, and not just leads, will become increasingly important in measuring the success of small business marketing campaigns. The ability to connect local marketing efforts to actual bookings will result in more accountability for vendors who sell to SMBs and help to prove the value of marketing spend.
- National brands with multiple locations or franchises will go increasingly local.
As the ROI of local marketing is realized by a greater percentage of marketing executives whose businesses sell locally, the ad dollars that were earmarked for corporate branding will be transferred to local marketing campaigns.
- Google will remain the dominant horizontal player for local search, but consumers will increasingly go vertical.
Google continues to be the most used search engine and, after introducing Google+ Local pages in 2012, will continue to help small business owners drive an online presence. However, more single-market companies such as ZocDoc
(healthcare) and Uber
(cab transportation) will capture increasing and significant attention from consumers.
- SEO will get more complex.
Google is making search engine optimization more complex. It will be increasingly difficult to keep on top of the almost constant changes that impact rankings, something we already saw in 2012 when Google introduced Penguin
. Marketers in 2013 will need sufficient data in order to overcome these obstacles and successfully build small businesses’ online presence on Google.
- The problems of listing syndication will be solved.
Up until recently, a local business owner’s ability to maintain updated and consistent information across dozens of online directories was a cumbersome – but still important – task. Several startups have developed solutions. However, Yext
, a company that has found a way to clean and automatically sync directory listings faster than any other business, will have a significant effect in resolving this problem next year.
- The daily deals bubble will continue its slow deflation in the U.S.
In 2012, consumers faced mass list fatigue and 2013 will bring more of the same. However, the daily deal industry certainly isn’t going to disappear. The companies will aggressively try to diversify to show long-term value.
- Retention and acquisition marketing will continue to blur.
There were several deals in 2012, which indicate that companies currently providing local business tools are diversifying their product mix to become more of a single platform solution. Groupon, for instance, purchased OpenCal and integrated its technology to launch GrouponScheduler, a service designed to make it easy to bridge the offer and appointment booking, and scheduling. This trend will continue unabated in 2013.
- We’ll see at least two filings for blockbuster IPOs of local tech companies.
Several companies in the local space have reached, or are close to the revenue level thought to be the indicator of a viable IPO candidate. Companies such as Yext and Square
are strong candidates to go public.