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Some 91% of national brands say they plan to spend more or the same on local marketing (i.e., campaigns directed at customers in their local markets) in 2013 compared with 2012 spending levels, and they cite mobile marketing, local blogs, and online customer reviews as their top 3 digital priorities for the coming year, according to a survey from Balihoo.

Across the board, digital tactics are playing an important role in brand success: 67.5% of national brands surveyed say digital marketing is extremely or very important to national brand success. 

Larger companies rely on digital more: 45.0% of national brands with annual revenues greater than $500 million rank digital marketing "extremely important," compared with 38.8% of all national brands.

Below, additional findings from the report titled "National Brand Use of Digital in Local Marketing," based on a survey of 384 national brand marketing executives in North America.

Local Digital Marketing Priorities in 2012 and 2013 

Asked which local digital tactics there are using in 2012, national brands ranked "other social media" (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) (75.52%), Facebook (69.27%) and SEO (66.15%) as their top 3 priorities.

Only 22.66% of national brands are now using local search registration, and only 19.53% rank it as a priority for 2013.

National brands cite the following as the top 3 digital tactics planned for 2013:

  1. Mobile marketing: 35.42%
  2. Local blogs: 31.51%
  3. Online customer reviews: 30.99%

National Brands Lack Confidence in Affiliates  

Roughly one-half (51.3%) of national brands rely on local affiliates (dealers, agents, resellers, channel partners, retailers, and franchisees) to promote and sell their products and services.

Among those 51.3%, nearly 9 in 10 (87%) say their brand is not well represented on affiliate websites.

Only 4% of this sub-segment rank their affiliates as excellent at marketing, with the majority (47%) ranking affiliates as moderately effective:

Asked which areas their local affiliates lack expertise and the ability to execute effectively, national brands cite mobile marketing (53.4%), SEO (49.4%), and PPC (46.6%) as affiliates' top weaknesses.

"Balihoo's survey results are in line with other industry research showing the growing importance of local marketing for national brands, but what's particularly interesting is how national brands are prioritizing their local marketing tactics," said Pete Gombert, Balihoo's CEO.

"When it comes to digital tactics, we found that local websites and local search registration are not top priorities for national brands, yet they form the foundation for a strong local marketing infrastructure," Gombert added.

"We also see there is a lot of opportunity for national brands to better lead and support their local channel partners. CMOs and marketing managers should look more closely at these aspects of their local marketing programs as they plan ahead for 2013."

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 384 national brands based on North America with revenues greater than $100 million in annual revenue, fielded via email from August 1 to Sept 10, 2012. Respondents met the criteria of marketing professional or executive.

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