Every type of business has its special considerations when it comes to digital marketing. What works for a small business won’t be effective for a giant, multinational corporation. And if you’re a local business, there are specific steps you must take to stand out online.
In fact, local marketing is really its own branch of the digital marketing tree. If you’re a local business who’s been focused more on generic marketing strategies, these can only get you so far. Let’s walk through these local marketing tips for your business to help you find the right audience in your own backyard.
In this post, we’ll walk through five local marketing tips for your business, including:
- The importance of local listings.
- How ad extensions can help you embrace local.
- Why you need local SEO.
- How geofencing maximizes your local footprint.
- The beauty of localized search ads.
Let’s dive in!
1. Get on Local Listings
Of course, the first step for any business creating an online presence is to build a website. But for local businesses, getting on local listings is a close second.
Even if you haven’t heard the term before, you know what a local listing directory is. These platforms include Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook, and they help local audiences connect with businesses in their area.
Appearing in local listings is critical for small businesses because some searchers bypass the traditional search engine route and go straight to a local listings site to find nearby options. And even if they’re on a search engine, local listings are still influencing the results they see. Information that businesses put on Google My Business is used to power Google Maps results, so if you haven’t claimed your profile on Google My Business, you’re missing out on the large segment of the population who turn to Google Maps for answers.
It’s important to be on the three giant local listings sites I named above, but it’s also a good idea for local businesses to find other listings sites that are specific to their community or niche. For example, Angie’s List is a popular site for home service providers (think contractors, electricians, and house cleaners).
Additionally, it’s critical that all of your information on these sites be correct and up-to-date. There’s nothing more frustrating for a consumer than confirming your business hours on Yelp, only to turn up at your storefront and discover a closed sign in the window.
2. Embrace Ad Extensions
When you go through the trouble to purchase online advertising, you want to be sure you’re taking advantage of every feature that advertising tool provides. If you’re undertaking search marketing, that means including extensions in your Google ads.
Extensions give you the opportunity to put additional information in your ad, beyond the standard headline and description. By including things like a click-to-call button, your location information, or more details on a specific product featured on your website’s page, you entice the consumer with even more information about your business.
Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes: There are two links to similar businesses in front of you. One has a click-to-call button, making it easy to reach an associate at the store to see if they have your desired item in stock. The other has a title and meta description that sounds interesting, but you know you’ll have to click the blue link and then scroll through various pages on their website, looking for a number. Which business would you choose to call?
3. Focus on Local SEO
Not all SEO plans are created equal. The steps that a big box store, with locations all across the country, must take to appear in relevant searches are very different from those a local business owner should take.
Consumers search for local businesses in a very specific way. They often use the phrase “near me” or enter the name of their city or town alongside the type of business they’re looking for. (Think “best hair salon near me.”)
Fortunately, a lot of local SEO best practices are tied in with some of the tips I’ve already shared. For example, establishing your Google My Business profile is critical to performing well in Google local search results.
Additionally, the more local listings sites where you can have your name, address, phone number, and website URL appear, the better. And when those local listings sites include lots of good reviews from happy customers, you’ll begin to see your business move up the SERPs and maybe even land in the coveted 3-Pack (the list of the top three local businesses that appear directly below maps results in Google SERPs).
4. Use Geofencing to Capture Locals’ Attentions
While geofencing is a tool that any business can use, it’s especially powerful for small business owners trying to introduce their brand to a new, relevant, local audience. Geofencing allows you to establish a virtual fence around a given location, and then when consumers enter that area with their smartphones, you can send them a notification about your business.
This can be a welcome offer, providing a discount or bonus item if they decide to stop in and give you a try. Or it can be something like a link to your booking calendar, inviting those nearby to sign up for your services.
The incredible thing about geofencing is that you can set up your fence anywhere. Some business owners choose to put the fence around their own business, meaning that people walking towards your brick and mortar location will be greeted with a notification from you.
Others take a more tactical approach, establishing a geofence around the big, bad competition down the street. Ninety-three percent of consumers say they prefer to buy local, so if you can provide an alternative to the big box store down the street, right at the moment when they’re ready to make a purchase, they might just turn the car around and head to you.
5. Show Paid Ads to a Local Audience
Paid search is another great way to reach out and grab local consumers who might not already know about your brand. But the problem with relying on a typical PPC campaign is that your ads may appear to anyone, anywhere.
If you run a local brick and mortar shop in Boston, you don’t want your ads to run in Los Angeles! You end up wasting impressions and clicks (and ultimately, money) on an audience that will never actually purchase from you.
Geotargeting allows you to direct your paid search campaigns only at those in specific geographic locations. The technology allows you to pick an audience for your ads; so if you’re that retailer in Boston, you might choose to only show ads to consumers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Similarly, you can exclude locations you don’t serve, making sure that the only people who see your ads are people who might actually be able to get to your business.
Local marketing is its own beast, with specific tactics and strategies to get you in front of consumers in your local community. If you follow these local marketing tips for your business, you give yourself the best shot at standing out with the audience in your neighborhood – the ones who may actually become your customers.
Want to make sure you’re getting the most of our your marketing? Contact one of our marketing experts today to learn how we can partner with you to get in front of local buyers.