One would expect all companies with regional or local customer-bases would be leveraging all methods for driving local traffic, but this is not entirely the case. GMA Local, part of GroupM, recently conducted a study of the local marketing practices for national US brands that have 500+ physical locations in a range of industries and verticals. The findings were surprising showing a significant gap between the perception marketers had of their local marketing and the amount they were actually doing.

Looking at the numbers, 70% of respondents spend 60% of their ad budgets on local vs. national campaigns, and again 70% said they spend more than a quarter of their local ad budget on digital media. So local online is getting attention and will only get more as over 80% said their online local spend will be greater than the projected national growth rate of 25% for the next three years.

However, what exactly are they doing to maximize local? Only a third of respondents did local business directories, 45% participated in review sites, and just over half do geo-targeted paid search.  Thus, it is clear that this category of company, national brands with over 500+ physical locations, could benefit from a redesign of their online marketing strategies. Businesses looking to capitalize on local traffic need to assess their current practices and develop a multi-faceted marketing strategy that maximizes their local exposure. A renewed multi-faceted strategy would include geo-targeted SEO, utilization of online review sites and directories, geo-targeted ppc management, and social media integration, among other elements if needed. These efforts would work in conjunction with one another complimenting the impact gained by each.

Further, utilizing the guidance of an expert SEO company in this process can be most beneficial, especially considering how money can often be wasted in activities that do not achieve results. According to the above mentioned research from GMA Local, 58% of respondents said it was a lack in budget that prevented their companies from using more local online marketing. Thus, companies need to be as efficient as possible when engaging in these activities.Partnering with an SEO company allows businesses to assess what specifically brings them the best results and then concentrate efforts to maximize those activities per their budget, assembling as much of a multi-faceted and coordinated approach as possible. This process allows businesses to be more efficient and get the most return out of their marketing spend to ultimately shore up the gap between perceived and actual activity, as well as increase return in the form of targeted traffic.