13 Steps to Improve Local Marketing for Small Business
Aisling Brennan, 04-Mar-2016
Unlike large businesses, small local businesses cannot afford big advertising campaigns to create the necessary awareness and grab customers' attention. They need to utilise any cost-effective tactic to promote themselves in the geographic area they operate in. But how good is your current strategy?
Did you know that 75% of local business customers search online to learn about and get more information on products and services before visiting instore1? In fact according to Google 43% of search queries have local intent. And with mobile search on track to exceed desktop search are you complementing your offline local marketing with online local marketing tactics?
So, What is Local Digital Marketing?
Essentially Local Digital Marketing encompasses six key tactics:
- Local SEO
You know customers are searching online. So how does your small business climb up the local search results?
Since the emergence of blended search results in 2011, SMEs not only had to contend with optimising their websites with local SEO best practices (quality link building, content development), but they've also had to consider the impact of their local and social media profiles (connect with local bloggers). In order to succeed in local search marketing in 2016, your business needs to make significant organic search and social media efforts.
- Social Media
The overriding objective of SMEs building a following socially is to create an emotional connection with their customers and grow lasting relationships. Relationships where both interact, share knowledge and experiences. Remember your customers are having conversations about your business online, so isn't it better to participate in this dialogue?
For more information on choosing the right social network for your business (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) to creating a content calendar, check out Social Media 101 - A Beginners Guide
- Location Based Services
The core of any local search marketing campaign is the addition of local business listings on sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Local, Foursquare and Zomato.
I recommend you also include Irish-specific listings like Yourlocal.ie, Mytown.ie, Irelands-directory.com, Localmint.ie or more niched directories like Tradesmen.ie and WeddingsOnline.ie, if applicable.
Get listed. Ensure your business name, URL, address and phone number is consistent (and accurate) across all these directories. Choose your categories and listing attributes carefully as they’re very important, particularly for the search engines. Get in touch if you've any questions or need help with this.
- Email Marketing
Very often overlooked, email marketing is cost-effective, quick to deploy, mobile friendly and offers a high ROI. 94% of people send and receive email. 88% check their email daily. 50% will make a purchase as a direct result of email. So, it's a great way for cash strapped small businesses to use as marketing tool.
Start growing your subscriber list now (ask your customers to sign up at the cash register, include on your website and social media profiles) and commit to a regular publication schedule (ideally monthly).
Keep the email content simple, with a compelling heading to encourage higher open rates. Always lead with the latest news followed by a test of different offers, promotions and discounts. Track the performance of each to see what works best. Monitor Google Analytics to see impact on your website traffic volumes.
Get more advice on Email Marketing.
Customer reviews play a role in local search engine rankings and also influence prospective customers, so they shouldn't be overlooked.
A recent study by BrightLocal shows that 92% of consumers read online reviews and that star rating is the #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business, up 4 percentage points last year. Monitor review websites and listen to what your customers are saying to try to improve your service offering.
- Mobile Apps
The majority of SMEs won't need to develop their own app, or even have anything beyond a basic responsive website, but in certain high visual industries like finance or interior design an app is a good way to acquire customers. There are costs associated with app development so shop around.
Don't Forget Offline Local Marketing
Although digital is critical for local marketing success, you still need to include offline marketing tactics:
- Business Cards
Get cool business cards and hand out to your customers, neighbours, friends, passers-by. Share your business cards with other businesses & vice versa.
Missing a call shouldn't mean missing a customer. Use call divert tools to direct calls to your mobile if on the road. Ensure your voicemail message includes something about your service. Add a call-to-action (i.e."Visit our website at…")
Introduce yourself and your business to other local business owners. Join your local LEO, Chamber of Commerce and other local professional groups. Offer to speak at industry events, voluntary organisations, libraries and other business groups.
Write an article for the local paper to increase your profile. Advertise in local papers, if funds allow.
- Car Signage
It seems obvious but get your business name, logo and contact details emblazoned on both sides of your car. Park it in public area (beside shopping centre entrance, train station car park, town’s main st.).
Coupons are good at encouraging repeat business and customer loyalty. Bulk discounts, BOGOF offers, customer referral rewards programmes also work.
Consider signing up to one of the couponing sites, such as Groupon, Living Social, Pigsback or Rewarding Times.
Events are a great way of generating awareness and buzz about a local business. Participate in local events – give freebies. Support a local charity. Sponsor a local sports team. Host a local contest. Give an educational class. Does your business have a birthday coming up-celebrate this milestone. Or perhaps you could consider having a relaunch party to reinvigorate your brand?
Naturally this isn't an exhaustive list, so get out there, get networking online and in person and get local. Oh, and get in touch if you've any questions or need assistance with any of the above. Good luck!
1 Google Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands Study
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