13 Apr What to look for in a local marketing platform
So you’re looking to buy a local marketing platform. Let me guess, the whole process has left you feeling a bit overwhelmed.
No doubt you’ve done your homework and researched the major providers. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you have a product checklist sitting in front of you. I’m also willing to bet that your checklist looks pretty much the same across the board.
Sure, each company has a few additional bells and whistles. But frankly, it’s hard to tell whether these are unique features or just clever marketing. As someone whose job it is to track the industry’s product developments, I feel your pain.
So how do you choose the right local marketing platform?
For the sake of credibility, I’m not going to wade into the muddy waters of why one provider is better than another. However, I do think I can help you prioritize the right things based on the number of your locations.
Keep in mind that Placeable works with multi-location brands of the hundred or thousand-location variety, so my experience is skewed toward enterprises. Also keep in mind that Placeable writes my paycheck. Take what I have to say with a grain of salt or two.
Still, here’s my honest assessment of what you should prioritize when picking out a local marketing platform.
SMB vs Enterprise
When choosing a local marketing provider, the lens under which you should scrutinize platforms is the size of your brand. More specifically, you need to consider the number of your locations, as well as the number of employees you have dedicated to location data management.
If the only person managing your location data is you, and you’re also running every other aspect of the business, your priorities will be different than a brand that has fifteen people dedicated to managing the data for forty thousand locations.
For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to split the priorities between SMBs and enterprises. However, be aware of some overlap, especially among mid-sized brands.
Local marketing priorities for SMBs
For SMBs, it’s important to find a platform that can do it all. You want a platform that not only performs its core function of cleaning, standardizing, and syndicating location data, but you also want a platform that runs your social media, content scheduling, and other day-to-day activities.
When it comes to managing only a handful of locations, pretty much all of the providers will do an adequate job with your data. That’s why SMBs should prioritize a platform with robust secondary features. If you only have one person performing multiple marketing duties, the convenience of a single dashboard that does it all can’t be beat.
Not only will it likely save you subscription fees on software redundancies, but it will also will encourage you to spend more time inside the program, helping earn back its value.
The truth is, if you only have one or two locations, your data is unlikely to require much work after the initial clean up. As such, you won’t spend much time in the program managing your data. This is especially true if you work in the building you’re managing the data for. You’ll know whether your address is wrong or if your hours need updating. As such, prioritize the additional features that make your life easier on a day-to-day basis. Otherwise, you’re not getting the most out of your investment.
I would also caution SMBs about signing up for managed services. The local marketing platform you choose should be intuitive enough to handle on your own. If it isn’t, don’t buy it. When SMBs hire a managed services team, they’re often paying for the managed services team to sit on their hands.
Local marketing priorities for enterprises
Enterprise brands should prioritize five things when choosing a local marketing platform: scalability, making the data actionable, account managers, custom builds, and managed services. Here’s what you should look for in each:
Scalability—When you manage the location data for a thousand or ten thousand locations, it’s rare that a day goes by in which something doesn’t need to be updated. As such, be sure to consider the scalability of the platform. How easy does it monitor location data for thousands of locations? Is the dashboard intuitive? How robust are the analytics? When you’re using the platform daily, small efficiencies add up to huge time savings.
Making the data actionable—The next thing you need to consider is how actionable will the platform make your data. If you’re looking to implement omnichannel marketing, location data is critical for targeting customers across channels. Having a passive or reactive platform no longer cuts it.
Account managers—The unsung heroes of location data management for enterprises are account managers. They’re the ones who’ll be solving your most challenging location data problems. They’re the ones who will know the intricacies of your brand’s data as well or better than you do. They’re the ones who will ensure that your local marketing program runs without a hitch. A good account manager is worth her weight in gold.
Custom builds—Make sure that the platform is customizable to fit the needs of your brand. The truth is, one platform does not fit all. For example, a bank needs tighter data security and special audits, whereas a retail chain needs better e-commerce integration. Make sure that the provider you’re considering will tailor the platform to fit your needs and not the other way around.
Managed services—You would also be wise to consider the quality of the managed services team. While I don’t recommend managed services for SMBs, enterprises can often benefit from having data management experts run the platform for you. Even if you don’t intend to use managed services to begin with, you should still look at the quality of their work. These are often the same people who will perform the initial data clean up. You’d also be amazed at how often a brand upgrades to managed services at a later date.
Finally, while having all the additional bells and whistles is important, these features should be considered secondary to the platform’s core function. Why? The chances of an enterprise brand replacing their subscription to Sprinklr or Hootsuite with a local marketing platform is slim to none.
Instead, look for a local marketing platform that performs its core duties exceedingly well and compliments the rest of your marketing stack.
In general, SMBs should prioritize secondary features, whereas enterprises should prioritize the core functionality of the platform. Use the above guidelines for comparing local marketing platforms, and you’ll be much more likely to find the platform that best fits your needs.