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44pc of marketers not leveraging mobile for local marketing: study

Despite mobile?s promise to deliver hyper-relevant marketing, brands are either disregarding the medium or stretching their mobile efforts too thin, according to a new report from the Chief Marketing Officer Council.

In the ?Brand Automation for Local Activation: Connecting Customer Engagement Into Measurable Local Strategies" report the CMO Council examines how marketers are splitting traditional and digital mediums as part of their localization strategies. The report points to mobile gleaming more attention than actual execution for marketers.

?While marketers are talking about mobile, this year they are still looking at it as a push-brand driver,? said Liz Miller, vice president of the CMO Council, Palo Alto, CA. "For example, they think that if they buy a national campaign, the side effect is that it will benefit mobile.

?They are still looking at mobile as an odd commodity ? what they are not seeing is how powerful mobile is in a local marketing strategy,? she said.

?The majority of marketers investing in mobile are looking at is an experiment ? for the most part they are using it at a national level but not local.?

Mobile is local
The study?s results are pulled in from an online audit of 296 senior executives that completed a 38-question online survey. Additionally, executives from brands including Arby?s Restaurant Group, Carhartt, FedEx, Red Robin, The North Face and Wells Fargo were interviewed.

The research was compiled between November 2012 and February in partnership with Balihoo.

Respondents were asked how mobile will impact their local marketing mix in 2013.

Thirty-three percent of marketers surveyed said that they are still examining mobile investments, and 11 percent said that they will not focus on mobile marketing this year because their consumers do not rely on their handsets enough to justify investment.

?What I struggle to identify with is who is not relying on their mobile devices that it becomes irrelevant?? Ms. Miller said.

?There are people who are wholly discounting mobile, which is a very dangerous place to be,? she said. ?The reality is that we have stopped being business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies ? we exist in a world where everyone is business-to-consumer because of mobile. 

?Buyers today are starting their engagements whenever and wherever they want. We now have to be ready when the consumer wants to start the engagement, and mobile has been the catalyst to it.?

The remaining 56 percent of marketers are splitting their mobile investments across a variety of different initiatives for 2013.

Thirteen percent of marketers said that mobile search will play a critical role in driving consumers to local engagements.

Apps are a focus for 13 percent of marketers, while 12 percent of marketers believe that mobile will directly connect global and local campaigns.

Ten percent of marketers surveyed said that mobile will become as important as Web or social in driving consumers to local engagement.

Eight percent of marketers said that one of the big focuses for them this year will be developing a comprehensive mobile relationship marketing strategy.

Savvy marketers look at mobile for more than one-off marketing initiatives.

For example, the report quotes Denny Marie Post, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Red Robin, Greenwood Village, CO.

Per Ms. Post, Red Robin?s mobile?s strategy serves both loyalty and utility purposes. The company?s mobile app lets loyalty members store their rewards information. Red Robin also has mobile tools that let users create meals with calorie and allergy information.

The Red Robin executive?s main takeaway for marketers is that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to digital?s role in local marketing.

Not all mediums are equal
The idea of SoLoMo, which is the combination of mobile, social and local into one marketing strategy, has grabbed the attention of marketers as a way to tie together the three mediums.

However, the report points to marketers investing more in social than in mobile. Many of these marketers currently have a "wait-and-see approach" to mobile.

For example, 31 percent of marketers surveyed said that SMS and mobile display is a key customer touchpoint as part of their local engagement strategies.

To compare, 57 percent of marketers bank on social media advertising as part of their localization strategy. Forty-nine percent of marketers utilize their corporate social media sites for local campaigns.

A whopping 89 percent of marketers leverage their corporate Web site for localized marketing. Seventy-two percent used email and 66 percent use events such as open houses and fundraisers to make the most of their location strategies.

Other top mediums for local marketing include online advertising, sponsorships, direct mail and magazine print ads.

Despite the wide gaps between mediums, 81 percent of marketers said that uniformly communicating a brand?s value and promise was a top priority for the 2013 fiscal year. Similarly, eliminating consumer confusion with clashing brand executions is a goal for 64 percent of the executives surveyed.

This points to the growing need for marketers to create cross-medium campaigns as part of making local marketing more effective.

Digital targeting
The report also unveils some interesting findings on how local marketing priorities have shifted from traditional marketing to more digital initiatives in the past year.

Per the report, 27 percent of marketers have increased their digital investments over the past year.

Only four percent of marketers said that they have developed strategies for mobile engagement in the past 12 months though, indicating that mobile?s impact on local marketing is not up to par yet.

At the same time though, only one percent of marketers have increased their investments with traditional advertising through television, print and radio in the past year. Six percent of executives have decreased their investments in these mediums during the last 12 months.

The survey asked marketers to rate advertising channels that are most effective for local marketing strategies.

Six percent of marketers picked mobile as the medium associated to the success of local marketing. This is tiny compared to the 47 percent of marketers who attributed live events for successful local marketing strategies.

Email was favored by 34 percent of marketers, and 28 percent of executives attributed their local marketing success to search.
Other top mediums cited for local marketing success were local microsites, social, radio, newspaper and outdoor marketing. All of these mediums beat out mobile.

Reshaping a brand
Getting marketing to a local level is a main priority for marketers. Fifty-nine percent of the executives surveyed said that local marketing was essential to driving profitability and business growth.

However, getting to this layer of one-on-one marketing is easier said than done, especially at a company-wide level.

For example, 86 percent of executives surveyed said that they use their corporate Web site for local marketing. Forty-nine percent said the same about social media.

Only 33 percent of marketers utilized a local Web site for localized marketing, which likely resonates stronger with consumers in a specific region. Similarly, 27 percent of respondents said that they used local social media outlets for their location engagement strategy.

When it comes to a company?s decision-makers, 31 percent said that either a CMO or other executive-level leader was in control of localization marketing strategies.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents said that a corporate marketing team spearheaded local initiatives. Twenty-four percent of marketers rely on regional or in-house marketing teams.

Measurement problems
Part of the reason that mobile may not be living up to its promise with localized marketing comes from how marketers measure success.

Thirty percent of marketers said that the impact that marketing has on bottom-line metrics such as incremental sales was how they measured the success of local marketing.

Twenty-two percent of marketers said that the volume and quality of lead flows indicates success.

Mobile?s success tends to be focused more on softer metrics, which marketers did not rate as importantly in the study.

For example, only four percent of marketers linked customer relationship values with success.

Similarly, two percent of marketers used viral conversation levels or buzz as a measurement that impacts success of a local marketing campaign.

?You have to remember that the CMO is being called to measure the language of the business, and the language of the business is revenue,? Ms. Miller said.

?As we are defining those, branding just for branding sake becomes hard,? she said.

?When you look at what marketers are measuring, they are trying to move towards understanding how did their campaigns impact the sales funnel and what was the impact in moving the customer through the sales transaction.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York