Category Archives: Sales Channels

Yodle Launches Centermark for National Local Entities

One of the hottest trends in local marketing is “National Local,” which accounted for 32.1 percent or $42.5 billion of the $132.5 billion spent on local media advertising in 2012. BIA/Kelsey projects that national’s share of local ad spending is expected to grow to nearly $51 billion by 2017. While sometimes obscuring “local local” marketing efforts (i.e. SMBs), the rapid rise of Mobile, effective Geo Targeting and marketing automation has permitted local to scale in unprecedented ways for national brands, franchises and retailers.

Yodle, for one, has been really zeroing in on maximizing its national local opportunities. The company provides marketing services to 40,000 local businesses, including a wide swath of national providers, such as Merry Maids and Miracle-Ear.

Today, the company announced the formal launch of its Centermark suite for such national local players. The suite has been launched as part of The Yodle for Brand Network division – as of July, its revised name for national local services. “Not all brands are national, and many national organizations don’t view themselves as brands,” noted SVP Fred Voccola, in explaining the new name.

Centermark’s various features include local SEO, social, local mobile and scheduling services. It has been in beta for the past six months with 2,000 customers, including franchisors, manufacturers and multi-location operators.

Voccola explains that the company’s primary goal with Centermark is to provide a consistent local Web infrastructure that provides better SEO and ultimately, conversion rates and ‘actionable business intelligence.’ It is not just to understand what the revenue was. We’re interested in what lead sources were used,” and external factors that may have contributed to a sale or other type of engagement, including left field factors that defy conventional wisdom, such as interest rates or weather, he says

More critically, the use of suites like Centermark can strengthen the bond between national brands and their local entities, says Voccola. At BIA/Kelsey, we have observed that weak online and mobile offerings from brands have caused many franchisees to take control of their own marketing activities, often with mixed results. That probably doesn’t serve anyone’s goals.

Local’s New Year: Some Thoughts and Predictions

Over the years, we’ve seen some major paradigm shifts in the transition of local marketing to digital. In 2003, it was the rise of Google search as applied to small business –to this day, the biggest thing that ever happened to local. In 2007, the paradigm shift was the rise of Groupon and prepaid deals as a way to drive customer acquisition. This opened the door for all kinds of non-advertising marketing, from Facebook and Twitter to Card Linked Offers.

Right now, mobile is THE paradigm shift – both as a media channel, and as a geolocation device (Mobile hasn’t been a factor yet as an ewallet. But that is sure to come, with a whole new set of implications.)

Nothing happens in 12 month cycles, but this is what I see happening in 2014:

Hyperlocal Fails to Win Destination Status, Gets a Better Life as Feature
Hyperlocal seems so compelling; contextual content that can draw users who can be microtargeted on a block by block basis. But on a super hyper local basis, it hasn’t scaled as a business model or as a compelling destination site. AOL’s Patch is reported to be winding up as an independent entity, and National Local hybrids such as Examiner.com haven’t made an impact either. The one remaining super hyperlocal site is Next Door Networks, which has raised a $100 Million war chest. The site is based on user generated content and local cells of 30+ users. It is a much cheaper model than Patch’s local staff. But will it win sustained participation from users? My bet is that it won’t. But does that mean that hyperlocal is dead? In fact, hyperlocal is everywhere – in reviews, posts, articles, maps and enhanced listings. Its use is sure to grow.

The Sharing Economy Spawns Multiple Vertical Sites
One of the big local breakthroughs has been the development of shared listing sites for apartments (Airbnb), vacation rentals (BRBO) and rides (Uber). In 2014, we expect to see shared listings become more ubiquitous, with multiple entries per verticals, and the addition of many more verticals. We also expect to see an entire ecosystem grow around these sites. As AirBnB’s Joe Zadeh noted at Interactive Local Media in San Francisco, solutions are being added based on need. For instance, Airbnb has developed a freelance photographer program because hosts need good pictures of their apartments.

Social’s Impact In Local Is Too Fragmented, But Dedicated Word of Mouth Sites Make a Dent
Social leaders like Facebook and Google+ have tremendous volume at the local level. Facebook, alone, has over one million SMB advertisers. But its local usage is so fragmented that local can’t be a real focus at the vertical level. Review-based sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List get closer to the mark, and have broadened their reach beyond restaurants and service professionals, respectively. But they leave plenty of room for smaller Word of Mouth sites that can specialize in certain sectors (i.e. Plumbers) and really dig in. Look for some of the industry’s most innovative leaders try to break through with new models in 2014, including Justin Sanger with SupportLocal; Gib Olander with Local Viewpoints; and Matthew Berk with Lucky Oyster.

‘Big Data’ and Non-Advertising Marketing Boost Local Leads
The ability to base marketing on user engagement and behavior is a fantastic opportunity. Big data, specifically, mixes and matches various data bases to determine the likelihood of engagement. It has been successfully applied to support advertising campaigns. But can users be targeted as a substitute for advertising budgets? And looking forward, can transaction activity, store inventories and user location be wedded to search behavior as part of e big data? This is a greenfield opportunity in all respects. What we are looking for is the transformation of retail email and social lists to leads and promotions. Look for big data players such as Radius Intelligence, Retailigence, xAd, Urban Mapping and LocalBlox to showcase new opportunities in leads and geotargeting.

The Hunger for ‘Attribution’ Drives Big Data and Transaction Marketing
One of the biggest problems for local marketers is proving attribution – especially as users effortlessly move from a banquet of “spreadable media” – everything from articles to email to social media posts to YouTube. It is another reason we are keen on transactional media and loyalty media – the receipts say it all. Look for the gatekeepers of transaction media and loyalty marketing–everyone from Living Social to First Data, Bank of America, MasterCard, Amex , Google Wallet, PayPal and Square – to edge their way into consumer marketing.

Online Shopping Goes Local via Delivery
Interactive Local Media has largely been defined by tech factors, such as geofencing . But the growing use of online by commerce giants such as WalMart, The Home Depot, Amazon and eBay; their development of regional warehouses and delivery networks; and use of Facebook Connect-like one stop shopping suggests a new front in the war for local commerce. The imposition of local sales taxes also suggests a level playing field with local businesses. eBay’s purchase in 2013 of the Shutl courier service, and its expansion to multiple markets, really showed where this might lead.

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for reading and being part of the local community.

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LIL ILM: Go Daddy CEO Blake Irving Focuses on ‘Discoverability’

 

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving said during his opening keynote at Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media in San Francisco that the world’s leading domain registrar with 12 million, mostly SMB customers is moving beyond the “polarizing tactics” it has used to get attention in its early days, and changing its brand image and marketing approach.

We’re about a lot more as a company,and Go Daddy is really about helping people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures,” he said. A lot of the company’s attention is about discoverablity, he added. “Discoverability is key to customer acquisition.”

Discovery marketing moves people from selection to intent to purchase to loyalty. The goal is to make it actionable, said Irving. Omnichannel Web and mobile services are a major part of this.

While the company is adding new services such as Locu, it is also adding to its traditional registration businesses. GTLDS domains enable micro targeting, with such entries as “.Luxury” and “.Camera,” he noted. Such efforts are likely to boost the company’s average customer value, which is $123 a year. Acquisition costs are running the comapny around $45. Figures are consistent around the world, he said.

ReachLocal Moves Away From Consumer-Facing ‘ClubLocal’

ReachLocal announced today that it is moving away from its new ClubLocal business, which connects consumers with service providers. The publicly-owned company said that it is now considering a deal that would allow ClubLocal to be taken over by a “major” local entity along with a group that includes ex CEO Zorik Gordon and CSO Michael Kline. At the same time, ReachLocal would maintain a large investment in the business.

It is not a done deal. The company said it will “go shop,” or look at all options for the ClubLocal business until December 24.

ReachLocal’s move last Spring to develop “ClubLocal,” a consumer facing business to assign home repair jobs to vetted local services, met with some head-shaking within the industry. Reach has been seen primarily as a B2B service that did not appear to have the core competency or brand to work with consumers.

The service, however, went ahead and launched in Dallas and San Francisco, perhaps spending between $12 million and $15 million on the initial development and rollout. The main idea was that if Reach could provide SMBs with leads and actually process transactions for them, it would make for a much longer lasting relationship than simply relying on advertising solutions.

One of our BIA/Kelsey users of ClubLocal in Dallas reports that it provides excellent service. But there haven’t been extensive reports on its early business results. Soon after the launch, however, there may have been internal dissension about the company’s strategic direction.

CEO Zorik Gordon left the company, along with President Nathan Hanks. CSO Michel Kline had also announced plans to leave, although at the end of 2013. No explanations have been provided for any of the departures. Hanks is not part of the new group that will run ClubLocal if the proposed deal goes through.

In a discussion with BIA/Kelsey today, interim CEO David Carlick and CFO Ross Lansbaum wouldn’t comment on the executive departures, but noted that there is a search going on for a fulltime CEO; that Reach has become more of an enterprise business; and that B2C services such as ClubLocal are “not really our sweetspot.”

Carlick also noted that ReachLocal is going full speed ahead with its new ReachEdge product, a marketing automation and website project for SMBs. In fact, the company is accelerating deployment in Canada.

“Edge is the back part of ReachLocal – getting people to look at the local merchant Website and other offerings, and converting those visits into customer engagments,” said Carlick. “We have found the things that our clients tend to be worst at – like turning merchants into customers. We achieve results that are 200-300 percent better than what most merchants do now.”

More Exec Changes at ReachLocal Amidst Advertiser Growth

We’re watching ReachLocal closely, and note some changes at the company. Reach has been pushing the envelope as it transitions from a company that is largely dependent on reselling search and display to one that has a deeper relationship with SMBs via a wide range of platform services – and a direct relationship with consumers as well via service leads, placement and transactions.

Today, during its 3rd quarter earnings call, Reach announced the departure of President (and SMB Digital Marketing Keynoter) Nathan Hanks. Hanks follows founder Zorik Gordon out the door and will be replaced by CRO Josh Claman, who joined the company in August 2012 from Dell and NCR. Interim CEO (and DoubleClick Cofounder) David Carlick remains in place.

The announcement was made during the company’s Third Quarter earnings, which emphasized that the company has expanded its advertiser base 11 percent from a year ago, to 24,600. It also grew its advertiser campaigns 11 percent , and now has 34,600 active campaigns.

Additionally, international operations in 16 countries have become increasingly important to the company’s revenue mix, with 34 percent of its revenue now coming from international, up from 29 percent in 2012.

SMB Digital Marketing: ReachLocal Moves Beyond ‘ISO’ Towards Commerce

“Software is going to dominate local marketing.” In fact, “in a few years, everybody is going to be in a Software as a Service business,” sys ReachLocal President Nate Hanks, who told SMB Digital Marketing attendees last week in Austin that he totally agreed with an earlier statement by YellowBot CEO Matt Booth.

It isn’t about directories, anymore, Hanks notes. Its more about local commerce, along the lines of Uber, DemandForce, Hubspot, InfusionSoft and OpenTable “As amazing as directories are, they are only useful for their informational utility. You have got to make that leap into local commerce.”

The result will be a better, more integrated environment for merchants that will help them win more customers.,” Hanks says. “AI is the new UI”. The key is that everything must be totally automated. It must be “invisible and life affirming,” he says.

Hanks, in fact, goes so far as to suggest that ReachLocal’s evolution has made it more of a commerce company than a simple sales organization. The term “Independent Sales Organization” doesn’t really fit ReachLocal anymore, he suggests.

Rethinking Coupon Engagement: DataSphere Launches LocalSaver

Can coupons be reimagined to spur more consumer engagement? That’s what DataSphere is working on. The Seattle-based company sells and hosts marketing solutions to more than 20,000 SMBs under local TV and newspaper brands owned by Gannett, Belo, Raycom, Meredith and other players.

Part of its effort has been enabling and distributing free coupons for its SMB clients. As part of this effort, it has developed a network that can send coupons out to national website and mobile players such as Coupons.com, GeoQpons and CouponSuzy. It also drives traffic via organic and paid search, Facebook, Twitter, affiliate programs and mobile campaigns.

DataSphere’s latest coupon-centric effort is LocalSaver.com, a destination site that showcases coupons based on category and popularity. It also uses the coupons to anchor a rich media experience for the SMBs. Every SMB coupon on the site links to a page that includes a video, pictures and information about the business.

“Consumers who look at a coupon are more likely to play a video and consumers who play a video are more likely to look at a coupon,” says SVP Gary Cowan. ”Eventually the aggregate of all these touchpoints hopefully results in a transaction.”

Cowan notes that LocalSaver is fully integrated into the company’s coupon network, which makes it easy for SMBs to frequently add or modify as many coupons as they like (for instance, they can set their coupons on auto-renew, or set a predefined date range during which they will be valid.) The compay also provides best in class coupons for particular business categories. Over time, there will be opportunities for advertisers to gain additional exposure across the network through premium service tiers.

Cowan is a featured speaker during our Sales Force Transformation session at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing, which takes place Sept 11-13 in Austin. You may register here.