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The future of local marketing: Insights for SME owners

Local marketing is an essential aspect of any small business’s success. As the world becomes more connected, consumers are looking for businesses that are easily accessible and can offer personalized experiences.

In 2023, the landscape of local marketing is set to change, with new technologies and strategies emerging to help small business owners reach their target audience.

In this week’s episode of Let’s Talk, our panel of experts will explore the upcoming trends and strategies in local marketing.

Whether you are a seasoned business owner or a new entrepreneur, staying up-to-date with the latest insights and approaches can help you make informed decisions and drive sustained success for your enterprise.

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Danielle De Amicis, Head of Marketing ANZ, SAS

Danielle De Amicis
Danielle De Amicis, Head of Marketing ANZ, SAS

“At SAS, we have found that developing integrated campaigns comprised of both digital and offline components, has ensured that we achieve reach and awareness whilst concurrently generating demand and opportunities to those that are in market. Now, more than ever, digital serves as a key element of a richer, deeper, and more immersive user experience. However, it is important to remember that digital is an enhancement, not a replacement for in-person engagement. For example, we have found great success with our bespoke, in-person events that are relevant to our customers.

“Whilst it is clear that consumers are looking to technology as an integral component of their overall brand experience, it is important not to lose the human element of the brand when shifting towards a more digital model.”

Robin Marchant, Director of Marketing APAC, Shopify

Robin Marchant
Robin Marchant, Director of Marketing APAC, Shopify

“This year, local marketing is going to be all about the intersection of technology and personalisation. With the rise of mobile and voice search, brands need to ensure that their digital presence is optimised for these platforms. This means making sure their content is easily discoverable, visually appealing, and tailored to their target audience.

“We recently conducted a retail study at Shopify which found that one-third of Australians discover new brands to buy from through social media, and one-in-five Australians are more likely to make a purchase through social media platforms than a year ago. Yet, while social media marketing is clearly still king, businesses should continue to optimise their strategy for the channels that best help them connect with customers.

“Another key trend in local marketing is the importance of building a loyal community. In fact, almost all (92%) Aussie retail brands we spoke to agree that now more than ever, having a direct relationship with consumers is important. This can be done through events, sponsorships, and collaborations that bring people together in person and online.

“Finally, businesses need to be more data-driven than ever when it comes to their local marketing efforts. Tried and tested metrics such as traffic, customer engagement, and demand generation still ring true and help businesses clearly see what’s working, what’s not, and course-correct. With the right combination of technology, personalisation, community-building, and data analysis, local businesses in Australia can ensure they’re truly connecting to consumers in 2023.”

Sian Jenkins, Marketing Director APAC, Genesys

Sian Jenkins
Sian Jenkins, Marketing Director APAC, Genesys

“2023 brings an increased focus on personalisation and the integration of marketing and CX. By utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI), businesses are able to deliver highly personalised experiences at scale by extracting information from a customer’s previous interactions with the brand. This data can be used to create targeted and relevant messaging and offers tailored to the individual. However, AI isn’t magic; it needs to be made relevant through powerful empathy-building experiences for customers and prospects for it to be effective.

“With the increasing use of digital channels and our tendency as consumers to switch between them, brands need to make sure they’re connecting with their customers and prospects across all touchpoints of the customer journey. As a marketing leader, fostering relationships with teams that have functional ownership of each touchpoint is important to understand the context of customer interactions across channels.

“The end goal of these marketing efforts should always be to orchestrate seamless experiences where each customer interaction is viewed as part of a series of conversations which make up their overall relationship with a company.”

Albert Nel, Senior Vice President APJ, Contentsquare

Albert Nel, Senior Vice President APJ, Contentsquare

“2023 is a year where Australian brands will prioritise resilience and adapt to deliver growth, in the face of economic headwinds. For marketing, product, technical and digital teams alike, proving the ROI of customer experience (CX) will be essential to avoiding budget cuts that ultimately hurt both the customer and the bottom line.

“Marketers will face intense pressure this year to refine and adjust budgets while ensuring they’re set for a world where digital has become more critical to business success. When it comes to digital technology, businesses need data-derived insight to guide them as they balance long and short-term investments. Digital experience analytics (DXA) is the system of insight they need to balance and maximise the ROI of their technology investments.

“Modern DXA platforms are designed from the ground up to be intuitive, while at the same time providing common insights for different technologies and business teams. Powerful and easy-to-interpret visualisations allow companies to break down barriers between departments, quickly aligning them on efforts to implement operational changes and technical errors that deliver the biggest business impact. Forrester’s recent study shows organisations achieved a 602% ROI from Contentsquare and payback in six months, while also clearly tying improvements in CX to tangible business outcomes.

“Taking the right actions on optimising investment by leveraging data to design better customer experiences will shape the success of Australian businesses this year and beyond.”

Kieron Wogan, CMO, Carbar

Kieron Wogan
Kieron Wogan, CMO, Carbar

“Building brands from the bottom up is hard work. It requires grit and determination but if you persist, the rewards are huge. Communities are built. Trust is established and the organic growth engine pays back in multiples.

“There are three things I think you can deploy to help with your local marketing. First, consider running some brand activations — be present at your local shopping centre or local sporting event through sponsorship. This is great for building a community, leads but most importantly, hearing out your customers.

“Second, search — both Google and social. Almost half of those aged 25-34 are using search on social platforms. Using similar tricks on social posts — including keywords in captions — is a great way to ensure your brand is found.

“Finally, look to generate content from your customers and treat them as influencers. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews, tutorials, or offer product trials. All of this user generated content builds trust, brands and businesses so make sure you build these into your CRM strategies.”

Billy Loizou, Area VP APAC, Amperity

Billy Loizou
Billy Loizou, Area VP APAC, Amperity

“The local marketing that’s working is fuelled by first-party data. While third-party cookies are still lingering, Google will be cementing the date to finally eliminate them later this year. That means brands will no longer be able to buy their way into data-supported decision-making. It’s a change that is set to impact more than 75% of APAC marketers.

“First-party data is also emerging as the entry ticket for the most advanced digital marketing solutions like data clean rooms (DCRs), the second-party data innovation that allows businesses to strategically collaborate with key partners using their proprietary data assets. The brands that are, and will continue to be invited to the party, are the ones that have something worthwhile to bring, such as privacy-compliant, clean and deduplicated data.

“The pressure is on for brands to have an organised approach to their first-party data. Those that have a clear strategy and deliver relevant, personalised experiences to their customers will stay ahead of the competition, surviving this economic downturn — and thriving when things, inevitably, turn around again.”

Thomas Peham, VP of Marketing, Storyblok

Thomas Peham
Thomas Peham, VP of Marketing, Storyblok

“APAC marketers are in the trenches, battling increasingly strict privacy regulations and ever-evolving consumer behaviour in the face of a looming recession. They’re prepping for “Doomsday” — aka the death of third-party cookies. It’s all happening at once.

“So what’s working in the region is anything that makes their jobs easier. And a headless CMS appears to be taking the ‘headache’ out of marketing, offering a simpler, more secure and scalable way to bring personalised content and customer experience to engage with a wider range of audiences, devices and channels.

“With a best-of-breed, headless architecture, marketers are better positioned to create and scale enhanced content experiences for their clients. Going ‘headless’ saves time, reduces errors, increases security and cuts costs — exactly what the next era of marketing demands.”

Brendan Straw, Country Manager Australia, ShopFully

Brendan Straw
Brendan Straw, Country Manager Australia, ShopFully

“With the rise of digital retail strategies, it’s now clearer than ever that consumers are demanding greater efficiency, convenience, and personalisation throughout their shopping journeys.

“Australians are now receiving constant digital marketing and compounded by rising financial pressures, the retailers that have embraced an omnichannel and integrated approach maximising mobile touchpoints are being set apart from their competitors in 2023.

“Consumers now firmly exist within the omnichannel, relying on both online and offline experiences to complete their purchases. Retailers are now faced with the unique opportunity to connect not only these channels but to understand their customers’ behaviours and speak to them like never before.

“Proximity marketing lies hand-in-hand with this approach and has been used across Europe to connect and drive local customers to storefronts. Used alongside social media ads, personalised emails, digital catalogues and Google ads, Australian retailers are now able to narrow in on where shoppers are, in real-time, to direct them into physical stores to make a purchase.

“In a rapidly changing industry, where consumers are often inundated with digital marketing, it is essential for retailers and brands to understand where their customers are looking and what they are prioritising. The industry must act to ensure local marketing is just as dynamic.”

Erica van Lieven, Managing Partner, InSites Consulting

Erica van Lieven
Erica van Lieven, Managing Partner, InSites Consulting

“2023 is a moment of cultural and environmental transition where Australians are reflecting on what really matters to them as they seek to create more meaning in their lives. They are ready to create the future they want to live in, and are looking for brands to facilitate the transition to new ways of thinking, living and being. New research from InSites Consulting identifies meaning drivers and trends that represent what matters to Australians for creating a more meaningful future:

  1. ‘The top trend is Adaptable Essentials – reflecting a desire for more purposeful, affordable products and services in a future facing resource constraints. Australians are trying to be more conscious in our purchase decisions to deal with the unexpected and live a high-quality life.
  2. Life Rewilded – a trend that focuses on bringing nature and wildness into daily experience – ranks 2nd globally for guiding everyday behaviour, meaning that many people are acting upon this trend already in their lives. Australia scoring highest in Asia Pacific based on importance (attitude)
  3. The cultural conversation around health continues to grow and diversify, with the trends Interconnected Well-being and Social Health ranking second and third respectively in terms of importance in Australia. When it comes to how these trends impact behaviour, however, they rank joint 10th in Australia, leaving a large say-do gap for consumers.

“To stay relevant and meaningful for consumers, businesses should apply these trends to drive action by putting people and what matters to them at the heart of product and service innovation for 2023 and beyond.”

Alex Frolov, CEO and Co-Founder, HypeAuditor

Alex Frolov
Alex Frolov, CEO and Co-Founder, HypeAuditor

“Against the backdrop of a looming global recession and skyrocketing costs of living, it is highly likely that many brands will be slashing their marketing budgets. However, in any sort of economic downturn, the goal is not to stop marketing altogether, but to instead adopt a hyper-local and targeted approach to your marketing activities. When targeted to a specific geographical area, influencer marketing can be highly effective to reach and engage a highly targeted audience and build relationships with potential customers within close proximity to your business.

“Influencer marketing is a particularly high-ROI channel as it can not only reach new audiences but it also generates an 11x higher return on investment (ROI) than conventional methods. According to a Nielsen report, 71 per cent of consumers trust advertising, opinions and product placements from influencers. By partnering with influencers who have a strong connection to a particular community, brands can tap into the power of word-of-mouth recommendations and increase their brand awareness among a local audience.

“By working with local influencers, marketers can hit two birds with one stone –  cut advertising costs by focusing more on hyper-local influencer marketing instead, which in turn will spread brand messaging to a wider local audience, both of which can be hugely important during any time of tough market conditions.”

Mark Randall, Country Manager ANZ, WP Engine

Mark Randall
Mark Randall, Country Manager ANZ, WP Engine

“A strong website creates a powerful marketing funnel. A website optimised for speed and performance curates an enjoyable user experience, moving customers seamlessly from the awareness and consideration phase to conversion.

“As the full customer journey can now take place online, businesses must prioritise their website as a leading element of the core marketing mix rather than an accessory.

“In 2023, more businesses are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve the customer experience, like tracking UX design, enabling a variety of payment gateways and accessibility to attract customers and close sales.

“Effectively utilising innovative technologies on websites can now make a difference in attracting and retaining loyal customers. In 2022, we witnessed negative implications of poorly implemented technologies on websites – cyberattacks, website crashes and lost sales due to a disjointed user experience. It is critical that systems are tried and tested before going live.

“Companies should invest in a platform, or partner with an agency, that supports an initial and ongoing testing process to ensure technologies function as intended, thereby improving the customer experience and increasing the rate of retention.”

Colin Barnard, Managing Director ANZ, Criteo

Colin Barnard
Colin Barnard, Managing Director ANZ, Criteo

“Consumers are spoilt for choice these days and the savvy shopper is happy to look around for the best option so brands really must stand out or risk getting lost in the noise. A full funnel marketing strategy with a Commerce Media platform that is personalised and engaging can help get cut through and foster loyalty.

“Commerce media is transforming advertising by connecting marketers and media owners with their consumers in a more effective way using consent-based first party data. It enables brands to attract, convert and retain consumers and ties performance to commerce outcomes through closed-loop measurement providing results and valuable learnings for future planning.

“In 2023, the machine learning capabilities behind Commerce Media will be instrumental to marketers. Commerce Media helps businesses activate their first-party data to drive awareness, consideration and conversions when it matters most. This technology unlocks valuable insights into shopping behaviour throughout all stages of the entire customer journey, enabling businesses to deliver the right message, in the right format, at the right time.

“Partnering with a Commerce Media specialist can help marketers, engage and retain more consumers, activate and measure their advertising campaigns and ultimately drive better commerce outcomes.”

Harvey Canete, Head of SEO, Megantic

Harvey Canete
Harvey Canete, Head of SEO, Megantic

“The current environment demands that APAC brands become smarter with more sustainable marketing tactics that work beyond traditional Google ads, social ads and cookie-based marketing.

“SEO is an investment eCommerce businesses simply can’t ignore. With the right strategy and execution, brands can optimise how they appear on highly relevant search terms on search engine results, which can be hyper localised. They can position their products directly in front of customers with extremely high-purchase intent or produce local store listings and reviews. Now more than ever, it pays to be noticed by the right customers at the right time.

“Now is one of the most important times because the space is getting even more competitive: it’s more important to acquire new customers from your competitors from organic, non-branded product-based searches.

“This channel can be the most cost-effective when done right and allows brands to mature. It is one of the most important digital channels for small, medium and large enterprise businesses in cost-effective customer acquisition.”

Chelsea Harding, Head of Growth, Patch Agency

Chelsea Harding
Chelsea Harding, Head of Growth, Patch Agency

“Maximising reach through various channels like SEO, email marketing & social media is ideal for a strong local marketing strategy. Yet, a shift in consumer preferences towards authentic content on organic social media is a key trend for 2023.

“Organic social media marketing is a powerful tool for local businesses looking to build a strong and authentic online presence, while also establishing a deeper connection with their audience. In today’s world, consumers are seeking genuine and authentic experiences, and they are increasingly looking for educational and informative content from the brands they follow on social media. This can be achieved through regular and engaging posts, such as behind-the-scenes videos and founder videos, that provide a deeper insight into the brand and its values. By responding to customer inquiries and comments, local businesses can demonstrate their commitment to customer service and build trust with their audience. And by sharing content that resonates with their target audience, local businesses can educate and engage their followers, while also establishing a connection with them.

“By prioritising these tactics, local businesses can reach their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive customer engagement, which are all key factors in a successful local marketing strategy.”

Tom Evans, Co-founder and Managing Director, Audience Group

Tom Evans
Tom Evans, Co-founder and Managing Director, Audience Group

Even National television is more local, as catch-up TV audiences grow. Dynamic ads work for our national brand advertiser clients to serve up local (location specific) creative, based on where the viewer is. Smaller, more local brands can do this too. Look into Broadcast Video on Demand (BVOD) advertising options.

Remember that digital advertising doesn’t just mean the internet, especially for local impact. Don’t forget digital offline advertising. Look into programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) options.

AI is changing search, and that is set to impact local search marketing too. In general, businesses need to monitor their use of AdWords to identify when they plateau and then look at alternate strategies. And now that Bing and Google’s are using Chat GPT brands have new considerations.

For a language-based AI to find you, you will need to have lots written about you. Among the elements that contribute to this are 1. Uniqueness (distinctiveness) and 2. Volume (how much and how often you talk). Businesses looking to succeed with local marketing should ensure all of their content is very specific and unique to their geography, strive to differentiate from the local competition and produce communications regularly and consistently.”

Tim Cavanagh, Business Lead, SBM Marketing Communications

Tim Cavanagh
Tim Cavanagh, Business Lead, SBM Marketing Communications

“What works for local marketing will depend on your business. So, the starting point is making sure you are interrogating the question. With so many channels – from the back of shopping dockets to social media -businesses, especially SMBs, can find themselves backing multiple horses without much thought about which one is winning.

“It’s worth engaging a partner who can impartially analyse the available facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to form a judgment on where to invest your limited marketing budget. With so many businesses suffering from channel concussion in the pursuit of their business objectives, there has never been a more important time for the strategic analysis of business data to create realistic, achievable and ultimately successful business roadmaps.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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