Brand marketers always look for new ways to learn more about prospective customers and where they are in the buying process. This information gathering is vital to generate high-quality leads, but the task is not without its challenges. Changing privacy laws and policies, limited technology, and consumer weariness of invasive data practices all play a role.

Generating first-party leads at the local level allows marketers to circumvent these challenges and is a competitive advantage brands can use to build customer relationships. Data collection turns into a shared effort, creating a cycle where local retailers receive new opportunities to engage with leads and funnel additional information to the brand for even more targeted activities. This cycle grows a business as it spins faster and faster, maximizing customer lifetime value and sales.

When data connections between brands and their local dealer network are strong, brands have new capabilities to test lead forms, automate lead distribution, and learn what local messages and promotions are most likely to convert. Brands can also integrate local leads into their customer relationship management (CRM) solution for drip campaigns, nurturing leads on behalf of their local dealer network.

With so many benefits for brand marketers to prioritize local lead data collection, the next question becomes how. There are a few critical actions brands can take to empower their dealers.

  1. Put the “local” in local advertising

Advertising is a crucial tool in reaching customers where they are. Because it can be deployed against a hyper-targeted audience, it’s an excellent way to bring in high-value first-party leads.

Digital ads make it easy to qualify leads through custom fields where data is synced directly to a brand’s CRM. For example, brands can run a lead ad through their local dealer to book an appointment, driving more foot traffic to the brick and mortar store while growing their lead data. Using location-specific content strategies, brands can also use ads to direct traffic to landing pages that correspond to a specific location. Brands can then allocate these local leads to their dealers.

  1. Engage customers at super speed

In today’s world, speed is everything, and potential sales leads can evaporate in the blink of an eye. If a dealer reaches out within five minutes versus 30 minutes, the odds of connecting live with a lead improves 100 fold. And the chances of qualifying a lead contacted within five minutes jump by 21 times compared to 30 minutes.

Brands should consider mobile technology to allow local dealers to connect with leads at lightning speed and track the dates, times, and efficacy of outreach efforts on the go. For instance, dealers can be instantly notified of new leads via SMS to their mobile devices. This can be a big help — and a mutually beneficial solution — for a service professional not typically bound to a desk and computer all day.

  1. Clear the path to conversion

Incomplete information on a website, lack of a clear next step, and buried information can all slow customers down while on the path to purchase. Shoppers will abandon the site if they can’t get the information they need quickly and easily — and they may not come back.

Make it easy for shoppers to learn more about a product online and in person while providing a clear path to conversion. Set the website and campaign landing pages up to have simple forms that make it easy for a shopper to request a quote or schedule a demo. Loop in dealers to make the calls — plus having a local point of contact builds a more personal relationship with the customer.

And remember that conversions can happen in-store or online. When the customer is at the store, they are likely using their phones to confirm product details and compare prices. Take advantage of the opportunity with a limited-time coupon or in-store promotion in exchange for contact information.

  1. Build long-term relationships

One way brands have sought to differentiate themselves from competitors is through providing memorable customer experiences. Digital is an excellent tool for delivering those experiences. Follow-up can include text-messaged coupons, emails marking their birthday, or maintenance instructions to ensure customers are getting the most out of their purchase. These little things keep a brand on a customer’s mind and let them know they’re on yours.

There are so many benefits to going local with first-party lead collection. As more data is collected, brands can better understand their customers and create opportunities for engagement and conversion. But for brands to reap the most success, they must remember to bring local dealers in on the process. Make it possible for dealers to participate in customer engagement to close the gap on lead engagement, data visibility, and sales funnel performance, and increase customer lifetime value while you’re at it.