Woman gesticulating at world map chart in conference room
Brand Management

A Guide to Distributed Marketing

March 13, 2024 8 minute read
Deliver consistent digital experiences everywhere, every time
Woman gesticulating at world map chart in conference room

Human beings love the comfort of familiarity. The same goes for how we like our digital experiences. 

Have you ever needed to make updates across campaigns and suffered through manually ensuring local partners had the correct content? The ability to scale updates across locales, regions, and distribution networks is crucial to maintaining business growth velocity. 

This can be especially taxing given that organizations are spreading their digital presence farther afield these days. Ensuring that brand consistency, compliance, messaging, and customer experience stay unified requires marketing strategies that can handle a brand’s reach, which is where distributed marketing comes into play. 

In this article, we’ll look at what distributed marketing is, who uses it, and how automation plays a pivotal role in a successful distributed marketing strategy.

What is distributed marketing?

Distributed marketing is how an organization makes digital experiences consistent, markets across its diverse channels, automates what would otherwise be busy work, and scales marketing efforts. Useful from retail to banking and media to food and beverage, distributed marketing works to keep brand representation tight across digital channels, locations, and partners. 

Diverse brand experiences are often the product of different digital channels. Similarly, distributed marketing relies on technology to reach global markets. With multinational enterprises working to scale their marketing efforts while maintaining their brand consistency, distributed marketing software acts as a home base. The brain communicating with the rest of the body, if you will. Distributed marketing automation ensures that changes to branding or marketing assets at that home base are automatically dispersed to every channel that needs to reflect the updates. 

Who uses distributed marketing?

Organizations that focus on multiple geographic locations — a global presence versus a local one — use distributed marketing. Similarly, franchise organizations and decentralized companies also lean heavily on distributed marketing — or they should. The general store down the street might have a website but doesn’t need distributed marketing. Pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens that have locations throughout the United States, however, would be foolish to operate without distributed marketing.

Because we live in a wired world, almost anyone can encounter your brand. Fiber optic cables connect digital channels, locales, applications, and messages, and they’re, well, distributed. It would be difficult to create marketing campaigns for each channel and location every time they’re needed.

Enter distributed marketing, which empowers marketing teams to reach every channel in every location from one place with consistent messaging and brand experiences. This is key to scaling marketing across a distributed organization. Let’s take a look at who would benefit from distributed marketing: 

  • Parent-subsidiary brands that centralize branding or resources via a parent company and need individual marketing automation platform instances to manage separate contact lists, brand guidelines, and branded campaigns.
  • Franchises that all sit under one brand umbrella, but rely on franchisees to distribute products or services.
  • Distributed enterprises that rely on a central brand team, but also have other internal business units with marketing automation platform needs, such as regional communications teams operating in different geographies.
  • Marketing agencies with a large portfolio that manage a portion or all of their clients’ marketing automation needs.
  • General marketing teams that need a comprehensive marketing automation platform that sends cross-channel personalized content to end customers, especially when those teams are in charge of marketing products across multiple brands and locations. It helps facilitate strong collaboration with partners, resellers, franchises, and local sales representatives.


Let’s use the sports brand, Nike, as an example. Nike is a global brand, and its products are everywhere, but most of its sales don’t take place at a brick-and-mortar Nike store or even Nike.com. Instead, a vast network of partners, distributors, and retailers sell Nike products through their own websites, apps, etc. What remains consistent? Nike’s brand, messaging, look — all of which are distributed from Nike corporate to this network. This is distributed marketing and, at scale, it requires technology to keep things in order and running smoothly.

Companies need distributed marketing technology to enforce consistent branding and marketing across the world. Any number of things could go wrong without it. Think of it like this: An organization has its main brand styles, but those styles aren’t readily shared to local stores and distributors across the globe. So, those global partners improvise their own design ideas and implement their own branding interpretation. The situation could easily get out of hand, with hundreds of distributors interpreting the branding however they saw fit. Just like that, and consistency goes out the window. 

It’s an exaggerated example but more on the mark than you think. Without a distributed marketing automation platform to act as a single source for brand consistency, enforcing it becomes a great deal more difficult. That, in turn, can translate into consumers losing trust in the brand. 

Benefits of distributed marketing

The world is wide, and organizations across it are vying for overwhelmed customers in saturated markets. Companies navigating all this use distributed marketing to keep a competitive edge. Let’s look at some tangible benefits of distributed marketing. 

Governance and efficiency

When distributed marketing comes from one platform, organizations maintain control over everything on the operational level: workflows, editorial procedures, review cycles, updates, deployment schedules, you name it. While the network is distributed, there’s a centralized foundation that remains constant, ensuring everything under it follows the same rules and adheres to the same processes, which breeds efficient, repeatable actions that scale, lessens workloads, and enables agile pivots when needed.

Brand management and consistency

A large part of the central control that distinguishes distributed marketing is brand management. Recall the earlier example and the chaos that would ensue if each distribution channel beyond Nike’s corporate reach could market Nike products however they saw fit. But centralized control establishes a home base for brand management and consistency for every distributed marketing channel so that everywhere an organization sells its products, the brand remains unified. 

Scaling consistent brand experiences across geographic locations is a distributed marketing superpower. Disseminating brand materials globally while minimizing human error and non-compliant brand assets is pivotal for scaling a brand.

Legal and regulatory compliance

While brand consistency is important, inconsistent branding isn’t going to cause anything dire. Not so with legal and regulatory compliance. Many of the world’s best-known brands represent the finance, healthcare, insurance, and similar sectors that are heavily regulated. With distributed marketing channels in place across the world, keeping tabs on legal and regulatory requirements is a must. Central control over various marketing channels helps brands avoid fines or other regulatory penalties. 

Analytics and automation

A central view of analytics across distributed channels is paramount to future marketing decision-making. Use insights to plan, fix, rethink, and analyze your brand as a whole or at a granular level. Pinpoint common and outlier issues and use insights to create automated marketing campaigns that target certain actions. In distributed marketing, the world is your oyster when it comes to analytics, and automation makes it easy to act on insights.

Better customer experience

The benefits outlined above are all aimed at bettering customer experience. Customers never need to know what distributed marketing actually is. In fact, if they don’t notice it, that’s how you know it’s working. Building productive customer journeys — getting a customer what they need through the path of least resistance — with your technology is the point of having it in the first place. Brand loyalty and trust aren’t easy to maintain in the web’s vast sea of options, but you can start here using distributed marketing technology to build customer journeys that resonate with customers and generate ROI while marketing to a global audience.

Choosing a distributed marketing solution

Acquia Campaign Factory is our answer to distributed marketing. As your company evolves and expands, you’ll inevitably experience more and more downstream complexity. This can include new business units, regional teams, or clients that would each benefit from separate marketing automation accounts to ensure brand consistency across a distributed organization. Campaign Factory empowers each of these groups with a separate automation account, while maintaining full visibility and control from a central location. 

Campaign Factory lets marketers review all campaigns in a single, easy-to-use interface where you can measure everything. That is exactly how we were able to help Cox Automotive. They’ve 1,000 car dealerships with unique branding, voice, goals, and technology, but Campaign Factory helps improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency by allowing the dealers to tap into centralized insights and data on folks in the market for cars.

Distributed marketing gives enterprises like Cox, the means to command their marketing centrally while disseminating marketing efforts through diverse channels. Naturally, a distributed marketing automation platform will need to match your organizational goals, but one thing’s certain: Scaling requires control and agility simultaneously. 

If you’d like to learn more about how this type of scaling works, check out our distributed marketing e-book

Keep Reading

View More Resources