The complete guide to marketing your local business online

Online Marketing - SMEgoweb

The dawn of digital marketing has made the overall business environment extremely competitive for smaller businesses. With an army of digital marketers being fueled by what seems like a never ending marketing budget, big corporations have been able to fortify their presence in the local markets as well.

While on one hand, the interwebs are responsible for the exponential growth of many big brands, latest trends indicate consumers are supporting local businesses more than ever before. In fact, Google’s data indicates 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. This clearly indicates that local businesses have a unique advantage when it comes to marketing their business online.

For instance, ranking for ‘designer boutique’ might be much more difficult than ranking for search terms ‘designer boutique in Brisbane’. At a time when 50% of people that conduct a local search on their smartphone are visiting the store within 24 hours, ranking locally might do wonders to your conversion rates. With proper knowledge of how to leverage their local advantage, local businesses can easily put their brand in front of the right eyes.

Being social, locally

Social media arguably presents the most viable opportunity for local businesses to market themselves. Audiences turn into loyal consumers when they feel like they belong. This is especially easy to achieve with small businesses with just a few employees. Given that you have a plan, social media can provide a medium to build a loyal customer-base. Here are a few pointers:

  • The first step to effective social media marketing is to clearly define your target audience. Once you have done that, you can easily identify the social media platforms most suitable for your brand. For instance, for a local bakery that targets the younger generation, an instagram presence may prove to be extremely effective. Similarly, for a B2B service like an office cleaning service, Linkedin should be the primary focus of their social media efforts.
  • After identifying relevant social media platforms, start building a content calendar. Keep in mind, when it comes to social media, being spontaneous and relevant is the key. A content calendar will not only help you be consistent on social media, it will also help you plan ahead for special events.
  • When creating content, keep in mind the 80:20 rule. The rule essentially dictates that of all the content you share on social media, only 20% would directly promote your business. The rest would be focussed around creating engagement through real value addition. Social media is about forming relationships. You audience does not want to bombarded with advertisements on social media. Instead, try building relationships by adding real value to the lives of your audience. This can mean anything between sharing relevant articles, to giving out useful tips.
  • Share photos and videos of clients using your service or products. This way, you will be able to make your audience feel like they are a part of something, essentially turning them into loyal consumers!

Local social media marketing is all about building a community. There are several ways to do that, from contests to getting involved in conversations, your efforts towards building a community will translate into a loyal audience, and customer base. For instance, Morton’s Steak House went viral when they delivered a porterhouse in response to a tweet request by a local entrepreneur.

Optimising for local search

As mentioned earlier, ranking for local keywords means a lot less competition. However, only optimising for keywords is not going to get you paying customers. At a time when 18% of local searches turn into sales, you need to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.

All that begins with a professional looking website that is optimised for all devices. This website will make it possible for your business to rank on various search engine, and let interested consumers find your business. With a simple contact form on your website, you can use it to generate leads by directing traffic through social media and local search. Apart from ranking for the relevant keywords, you can do the following things to make sure your presence is felt locally:

  • List your business on Google’s My Business listings: This includes filling out all the information, along with selecting specific categories for your business. Not only would this make it easier to target niche audiences, Google will rank completely filled-out listings higher than incomplete ones.
  • List your business on all relevant business directories: Business directories are a great way to get some quality backlinks, while generating traffic for your website. Keep in mind, it is extremely important to maintain absolute consistency of your business information across different platforms and business directories. A study found that consistency of name, address, and phone number (NAP) holds about 16% influence in determining local search performance.
Online reviews

Over 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. For this reason, having positive reviews across business directories and social media should be at the top of your priority list.

While it is not advisable to pressure your customers into leaving behind positive reviews, you should definitely make it a point to remind every happy customer to leave a review. If you spot a bad review anywhere, make sure to promptly respond to it.Addressing problems will turn unhappy customers into satisfied ones, while helping boost your online reputation.

Targeted paid advertising

Paid advertising has proven to be one of the most effective methods for generating quality leads with low investment. However, this requires an in-depth knowledge of who your target audience is. This can be achieved by constructing detailed buyer personas and targeting them through paid advertising.

More consumers are looking for ad experiences that are customised to their surroundings. For this reason, when you run a PPC campaign, make sure you are only targeting for local keywords. Similarly, Facebook and Linkedin now allow locally targeted advertisements.

Conclusion

Locally marketing your business is somewhat similar to traditional digital marketing. However, as with any successful marketing campaign, if you target the right audience, results can be achieved with little efforts.