National vs. local search marketing

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Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall

There is a lot being written about the growing use of search marketing for businesses to meet their audience, no matter where they live, that may tempt marketers to push their budgets to run on a national, or even international, level. While this will lead to increased traffic volume, it may also lead to increased wastage. There is a lot of talk about local search and its targeting ben­efits, but depending on your business, it may not be as good a fit or as cost-effective as a national campaign would be.

One of the major influencers in many pur­chase decisions is the proximity of the store or service provider to the potential consumer. In targeting their consumers through search, companies could utilize local or national cam­paigns, but how should they decide which is best for them? With local campaigns, you can have a much more targeted conversation with your customer based on your location, and how it relates to theirs.

Local campaigns make sense for a business with a small catchment area, but once you've exhausted those leads and want to get more business, you need to target a bigger audi­ence. Assuming your business has the ability to scale/mail its way to national servicing, national search coverage exposes as much of the US market as possible to your messaging — but along with this comes greater wastage, as your conversations become less focused. By search's very nature, you are only messag­ing active seekers of your product or service (depending on the depth of your keyword list). There is usually more wastage with national campaigns, with a lower click-to-conversion ratio than you would expect for local campaigns; however, the overall increase in volume may well be worth it.

If you are a big company with local rep­resentation throughout the country, then running local campaigns for each area may give you the same coverage as a national campaign, but allow you to message your audience in a more targeted way. This is great from a conversion point of view, but the issue that it raises is one of manpower — does the time/cost of running the local campaigns outweigh the benefit in terms of your cost per end action? Now it's time to get out your calculator and develop the most cost-effective solution for your business.

stephen.hall@wunderman.com

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