Creating a digital marketing strategy for your local business is different than creating one for an online-only business. Your marketing strategy should target and appeal to potential customers in your geographic area.
Own your brand on search!
The first step in controlling your appearance to your local customers is to ensure your website is indexed on Google (Tell Google your website wants to be found). The second step is to take ownership of your map listing on the right hand side of the Google search page. Steps:
- Index your website with Google
- Get verified on Google/Apple Maps
- Enter all your business details
Businesses who rely on foot traffic as their major source of revenue need to make sure they are found for the search terms people are using to search for products and services that you offer. This is vital especially when people are on their phones and looking to make a decision immediately. Features:
- Show up immediately in your area, and help people find you with directions
- Let people know about you from your ratings
- Inform people about your opening & closing times & your contact details
People don’t only use Google search for finding businesses in their area they also make use of the entire map to locate their nearest and top rated businesses. Maps are generally organic (not paid) but with the new advertising features you can rank at the top if it is essential for your brand. Highlights:
- Help your customers find you in map view easily
The Benefits of Google’s Local Listing
Find out how your business is found
Once your business has been officially verified by phone, text or postcard (depending on your business type)
you will be able to learn so much more about your business and how you’re being found online. What you learn:
- How many people look for your business by name or address
- How many people are finding you by discovery on search or on maps
Are you ranking on maps or on search?
Knowing how your customers are finding you is vital.
If your being found more on maps people have heard about you and are now wanting to visit you – plus it’s now easy!
If your business is being found on search then you are being found in general categories such as “bakery near me”. Welcome new customers!
Being found and knowing people are looking at your business is great, but how many are taking action? This is where you can now find out if people are calling or driving to you or visiting your website.
Knowing this is crucial if you are to ensure your customers are finding out exactly what they need to know before they choose your business. Benefits:
- Too many calls or website visits? You might not have enough information on your listing!
- Lots of directions? Great people are coming to say hi!
Where do they come from?
Ever wondered where your customers come from? Short of them filling out a survey you will never know, unless you had Google maps on your side! Hotspots from Google lets you know where the majority of people requesting directions are coming from! Now you can advertise to them directly on Facebook or more on Adwords or Maps! Action Items:
- Focus your advertising on the specific locations who are using you the most
How many phone calls you say!?
Like most local businesses you most likely do not track how many phone calls you are receiving per week or month, nor do you know what day is most popular.
Not knowing if your calls are increasing or decreasing ensures you remain in the dark with your local marketing efforts. With Google Maps you can now track the calls that come from people on your listing.
How do people feel about your business?
We all like to think our businesses offer superior customer service, but do we actually? Keeping track of, and encouraging reviews gives both you and your potential customers feedback on how you’re doing.
People trust reviews from others and having those gold stars could make all the difference to your business.
Metrics That Really Matter
Although you have a local business, your marketing efforts need to be guided by data. We’re not talking NASA big data here, we’re talking about data such as; What are people searching for? Are they finding the information they’re looking for? Is your business providing this information or not? These are the absolute basics, but absolutely critical to knowing if you’re on the right track.
Search Console Success
Ever wondered what people are typing into Google? What questions they are asking and what pages your website is being found for? Now you can! Google Search Console is the most amazing tool to help you answer your customers questions and make sure you are front and centre when they need you.
Website analytics is not optional
Knowing how people are finding you online and what they are asking is one thing, but are you tracking your website stats using Google Analytics or Tag Manager? Not doing so ensures you are not controlling the next stage of converting a visitor into a customer. This is where most local businesses lose out on potential customers. If your website is not answering questions and giving immediate and clear answers you will lose 100’s of customers. What a waste!
And Advertising? Forgetting to be front and centre when it matters… Big Mistake!
Advertising is the fastest and simplest way to get front and centre of the people who you want as customers. In some markets it can be expensive, but if done correctly, advertising is hugely recommended as it allows quick manoeuvring. This is especially true when compared to website search engine optimisation (SEO), and it gives immediate feedback which is perfect for the longer term strategies for online and for the actual business itself. There are a few options available for local advertising seen below.
Facebook Local Awareness Adverts
You’ve probably heard of Facebook Advertising if you run a Facebook Business Page (not a personal profile or group). These adverts are extremely cost effective especially for small businesses and they are very effective in helping promote your brand.
There are a variety of adverts this platform can provide such as:
Local awareness, boosted posts,
retargeted adverts from page engagement, website visits or email databases, product catalogue sales, event promotion, special offers or even capturing of people’s contact details!
Opportunities are endless, but getting Facebook Ads right takes time and a certain skillset in understanding how it works and what adverts are right. But very worth it!
Google Maps Local Adverts
As discussed earlier, being seen and placed on Google Maps is extremely important if you want to attract new business.
Your customers expect your business to have an up to date map listing, correct information and a fresh profile full of images and information. But what if your position is lower than your competitors?
Thanks to the new-ish Google feature, your business can advertise on Google Maps and rank number 1 if you like! Your customers will not know the difference, but you most certainly will!
And finally what about the long game? Optimising for Search Engine’s is not dead, it’s crucial!
Although your business can easily pay for adverts, wouldn’t you also prefer to have your businesses website show up more often in front of people when they are looking for your product or services without paying for it? The answer to this is local search engine optimisation (SEO) and content marketing (Or Inbound Marketing).
Local Search Engine Optimisation
Your business has products and services that are specific to local customers, the problem is most websites we encounter are not set up properly to rank well for location specific search terms!
This is where local SEO comes in. This involves fixing your websites structure, titles, meta descriptions and actual page content to make sure Google knows where you want your pages to show up.
Local SEO Content Marketing
One marketing tool a majority of local businesses are missing out on is the creation of valuable and informative content that helps answer peoples questions. This must be specific to your industry and your customers in your area. Finding what you need to write about is easy if you have all the other steps detailed above set up!
The example of the left (or above on mobile) has by itself contributed to a 37% revenue increase for Cape Town Car Hire! Imagine if your business could achieve a 37% revenue increase with only one blog!