You may not even realize this, but chances are that the majority of your potential customers will check out your brick and mortar store on the internet before they notice it offline, while walking down the street.
In fact, the annual Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal showed that 27% of consumers searched online daily for a local business in 2018.
This goes without saying that smartphones have become the primary device used by people when doing their research. And even though traditional marketing still works, digital marketing for local businesses has quickly become the best method of reaching new customers.
Small and mid-size businesses face many challenges when it comes to growth, which are mainly due to having limited resources, budget constraints, lack of staff, attracting and retaining customers.
Why Local Businesses Should Focus on Local Digital Marketing
Every city, no matter how big or small, has its share of national retail chains combined with local stores. Most probably, the city you live in is no different.
When you’re the owner of a local business, your competition will almost always be well-known brands that everyone’s already familiar with.
This is where online marketing for local businesses comes in.
To get a leg up on the competition, it’s essential to reach your potential customers exactly where they are. Nowadays, that place is called the internet.
Back in the day, as a local business owner, all you needed to get people to enter your physical location was an attractive storefront placed on a heavily-trafficked street.
But now, people are too busy scrolling through their smartphones and checking their app notifications. While they do this, your business will go unnoticed, no matter how hard you try to make it stand out.
Here’s a real-life example that you probably experienced as well.
I went online and searched for a hair salon that’s the closest to my home and has excellent reviews. I found one and looked at the business’s name. Then, at the address to see exactly where it’s located. When I saw the address, I immediately was like: “Ohh, I know where that is! I walked past that place so many times but didn’t even notice it”.
So yes, that should be one of the main reasons why a local business should focus on local digital marketing as well.
It truly has the power of helping you convince your target audience to stop by your store next time they’re in the area.
Not only is the internet the primary source of information for the majority of consumers, but they also don’t have that much time to spend looking for a restaurant or any other type of service in their city. However, going online to do that is a whole different story.
If you think about it, it’s even possible that a potential customer may have passed right by your place on their way to one of your competitors, simply because they were able to find them online.
It’s also possible for someone to know about a local business but decide to trust another one that has an online presence.
The BrightLocal survey mentioned above also showed that 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. After people read a positive review, the next typical step for them would be to visit the company’s website and read more reviews.
Only their third step would be to visit the store in person. This means that not only local digital marketing is going to help you establish an online presence, but it’s also a powerful means of gaining customers’ trust and building a relationship with them.
Not to mention the fact that online marketing channels can be incredibly effective at continually interacting with your audience.
If you want to run a profitable local business, then you need to start thinking about local online marketing.
Use the following tips as a reference for your future local business marketing strategy.
1. Create your free Google My Business Listing
The first thing you need to do is to make sure that people can find your business on Google. This is where Google local search marketing comes in.
The easiest way to do this is by setting up your Google My Business listing.
In essence, this is going to make it super-simple for potential customers to find you whenever they use search terms related to your business.
Your Google listing will present information such as the address, phone number, hours, directions, and link to your website.
You will also be able to add photos so you can show people how your store looks like and give them a sneak peek of what they can expect when visiting you.
If you’re interested to learn more about how the local algorithm works, then feel free to check out this detailed post on the topic.
Aside from creating a Google My Business account, you should also claim other local listings, on websites such as Yelp that provide reviews from other consumers.
This is going to help you track what people are saying about your business and how they evaluate it.
Also, by having more listings on different websites, you will increase your chances of your business coming up in more local searches, which will translate into an increased brand awareness for your company.
2. Create local content for SEO
To increase your chances of ranking in the top search results and the visibility to your target audience, it’s essential to create local content for SEO.
As a local business, establishing yourself as a trusted voice in the community is critical in the growth of your company. That is why you want to make content part of your local SEO marketing strategy.
Now, when it comes to deciding which type of content would work best for your target audience, you should make this choice by thinking about it from their perspective. Start by asking yourself what common questions they have and respond to them through content.
Here are some ideas you can use when creating local content:
- Landing pages for specific cities (this is recommended if you have multiple locations throughout the country);
- Blog content around local events, location announcements, providing useful information related to your industry, or interviews.
- In-depth guides.
3. Respond to reviews
I’m going to quote once again a couple of findings from the BrightLocal survey because it revealed something important related to reviews.
Consumers are influenced by both positive and negative reviews. What’s more, is that 78% of the respondents from the survey said that they trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends and family.
Whether it’s good or bad, customers are going to share their feedback, and you’ll need to be aware of it.
In case it’s bad, this will allow you to control the conversation and address any negative feedback in a short amount of time. When you take the time to listen, respond, and solve issues that customers are having, you could truly turn some of them from angry clients to lifetime fans.
In the end, it’s not about making mistakes because they are inevitable. It’s about how you’re going to correct them.
4. Take advantage of ad extensions
Google Ads has changed a lot since it was first launched. Nowadays, anyone who advertises using the platform has access to plenty of features and ad formats that will help when it comes to improving the ad visibility.
When it comes to local search, two ad extensions can help:
- Display location extensions. This extension will allow you to display your business’ location as part of the PPC ad. Potential customers who see the ad can click on the address and receive directions to your store, which is a convenient way to drive foot traffic.
- Promotion extensions. This particular extension allows you to add time-sensitive offers to your PPC ad. I’ll get into more detail about this topic down below.
5. Write ads with time-sensitive offers
If you feel like your ads are not persuasive enough, then try using high-commercial intent keywords or branded terms (in case you’re selling products from a popular brand) and combine them with copy for time-sensitive offers.
Using the right trigger words for this type of campaigns can prove to be extremely effective, mainly when you use an ad extension such as the promotion one.
6. Set up call-only campaigns
According to Google, 70% of those who perform searches on mobile devices will call a business directly from search results.
For a local business, this is a huge opportunity to build a more extensive customer base.
One of the main reasons why this is incredibly effective is because they remove a part of the conversion funnel, which is the landing page. Potential customers will no longer have to visit a landing page to find your phone number or fill out a contact form.
Call-only campaigns can be implemented in both Google Ads and Facebook so it’s a local digital marketing strategy that can be used on two channels.
At the same time, you shouldn’t neglect those who are looking for information and run ads that take people to landing pages as well.
7. Take advantage of geotargeting
Geotargeting is a must when doing digital marketing for local businesses, so it’s essential not only to use the geotargeting option in Google Ads but also optimize your website for these type of keywords.
When optimizing your site, make sure to include city names in the title, h2, and content. On the About Us and Contact pages, target local terms aside from adding the business hours, directions, and other contact information.
By having all of this on your website, search engines will know for sure your location, which will help whenever someone performs a local search.
8. Partner with a local influencer
Working with a local influencer can help take your local social media marketing to the next level. It’s essential to pick someone from your community with a large and engaged community.
What you can do is allocate a budget and pay them to promote your local business on their social media profiles, especially Instagram.
The idea is to find an influencer that your community trusts when making recommendations.
By choosing the right influencer, you can truly boost your local business’ awareness and drive more foot traffic over time.
If you want to grow your local business and attract more customers, then you need to start thinking about how you’re going to expand it through local digital marketing.
The purpose of this article is to guide you in the right direction and give you some useful tips you can start using right away.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments sections, and I’ll be happy to respond to them.