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How the Online Marketing Industry Is Impacting Local Businesses

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The Web is one tool that small, local businesses can't afford to neglect when it comes to their marketing efforts. As consumers are increasingly turning to resources like social media and mobile applications to glean information about products and services, a brand's online presence is more important than ever before when it comes to establishing a solid reputation -- and some companies are looking to help along the way.

The online marketing industry has been growing exponentially in recent years, particularly in local markets. The industry is projected to grow from $27.1 billion in 2011 to over $42.5 billion in 2015, according to local media research firm BIA Kelsey. In addition, the search engine marketing industry is projected to reach over $22 billion by the end of 2012, a 19 percent increase from $19.3 billion last year.

As more and more businesses recognize the value of placing their brands at the forefront of the Web, many new companies are looking to fill their needs. LocalVox, a local, social, and mobile marketing platform, just announced an impressive $7.4 million raised in Series A funding, meaning investors aren't blind to the opportunities presented by the local marketing industry. The startup already boasts hundreds of New York City clients, including Whole Foods, Chelsea Piers, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sushi Samba, and its 90 percent client retention rate illustrates just how valuable their online marketing services are for these businesses.

LocalVox allows businesses to blast their valuable content all over the Web in just a few clicks. Companies can update content such as announcements, social media posts, emails, or blog posts, and LocalVox distributes this content to a variety of publications and websites in minutes. This includes local directories, social media sites, email newsletters, and the business' own website. The site takes care of maintaining a Web presence for companies without the time to update their social networks.

The success of startups like LocalVox can be attributed to a shift in small businesses' attitudes toward the importance of online marketing. A recent survey found 74 percent of small businesses find online networking to be just as valuable as -- or more valuable than -- networking with consumers in person. Still, many companies don't know how to use the vast amount of social networks available to them, with 58 percent reporting they struggle to find value in using Facebook to promote their brand or don't have a page at all--and that's where companies like LocalVox come in.

The number of companies struggling to take advantage of online resources means companies meant to fill these gaps are more necessary than ever. As small and local businesses enter increasingly competitive markets, meeting consumers where they already are -- on the Web -- is one marketing tactic they simply can't afford to ignore.