Local Business Marketing – Strategies for Small and Local Companies
If you are interested in starting your own local small business, now is the best time in all of history to do it. The good news is that there are plenty of local business marketing strategies you can use in order to help your small business thrive. Here are 11 best ones you need to start implementing today.
Not only do you have all the latest technology, tools, and resources at your disposal, but you can also get things moving without a ton of money. However, owning a local business is not without its challenges either.
- First of all, you need to find your target audience and reach out to them.
- Second, you need to get ahead of your competition.
Let’s take look at some numbers which might be relevant when it comes to local marketing for small business. As much as 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information. It goes to show that you need to have a strong online presence. It`s crucial when it comes to social media, even if you run a brick-and-mortar store.
Local Business Marketing Best Practices
Furthermore, 97% of all people have searched for a local business at some point in their lives. This means you need to be where your local target audience is. And they are most likely to be found on social media.
For instance, 95% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 follow brands via social media. While your choice of social media channels depends on your industry and your business. Having a profile on Facebook or LinkedIn is pretty much mandatory. Not only can you use it to drive more traffic to your website or blog. You can also engage your audiences with your social media posts, spread awareness about your brand, and communicate directly with your potential customers.
Have a Blog
According to research done by HubSpot, 53% of all marketers consider blogging their main content marketing priority. Having an active blog which is regularly updated can help your local business generate more traffic and leads and boost brand awareness. However, even more importantly, it can do wonders for your SEO. With your website, you can only do so much in terms of SEO, because you can’t have too many pages. However, the more blog posts you have, the better. Each one is a chance for you to target keywords and phrases which are relevant to your niche.
If you have a blog, you can also do guest posts, which will expose you to an entirely new audience and drive more readers your own blog, as well as allow you to create high-quality backlinks, which will boost your SEO and local business marketing even further. Finally, by providing useful and valuable content, you can establish yourself as an authority resource and a thought leader. If you are feeling like content creation isn’t one of your strong suits, you shouldn’t worry, because there are plenty of affordable writing services to provide you with high-quality content.
Rank Your Google My Business Listing
This is arguably the most important thing you can do with local marketing for small business. It can put your business in front of the eyes of your customers in no time. For instance, a user looks for a local business, let’s say “Chicago contractor”. They will usually see a paid ad. Then there will be a list of three different Google My Business Listings, with their location on the map.
Needless to say, this immediately puts your brand at the top. Fortunately, it’s not even that difficult to get that sort of attention. Best of all, it won’t cost you any money. So, what is Google My Business and how do you make it work for your local business marketing?
GMB is a feature that gathers all of your Google information in one place. We are talking about info from your Google+ profile, your business’ profile on Google Maps, all of your Google reviews, some analytics data, and so on. Furthermore, provided that you have a unique brand and a specific name for your business. It can even be shown inside a snippet on the right-hand side of the search results. This can really do wonders for your authority and credibility. Besides, all you have to do to achieve this is do some basic local SEO. Tweak your profile and populate it with relevant and genuine reviews and citations.
Pick One Main Social Media Channel for Local Business Marketing
Before we get on to why you should focus most of your social efforts on just one channel, let’s discuss why it’s important to have accounts on all major social media platforms when it comes to local marketing for small business. According to research, 44% of local business rely on social media. That boosts brand awareness and 41% of them use it to drive their revenue.
To make sure your business’ or brand’s image is spotless, you need to assume control. Control over how it appears on social media. However, you can only do that if you create profiles for your business on all major social media networks. Why? Because you don’t want someone taking your business’ name before you. This way, you remain on the safe side.
Brand Recognition and Social Media
Having a strong social media presence enables you to engage your audience. Moreover, you can spread the word about your business. In order to do that, you need to be where your target audience is. Let’s say that you are a designer. This means that you should probably have an account on Facebook. That is because it has over 2.27 billion active users and some of your target audience is bound to be among those. You should also have a LinkedIn account. Visual platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram will also be helpful. There you can show off your works. Being on Twitter might be less relevant for your local business marketing strategies.
Now, all of this is nice in theory. However, in real life, you will most likely have to pick just one social network. You can make that choice easier by looking at your analytics data. Ultimately, you can also use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. They can help you automate some of your social media activities.
Invest into Facebook Ads
In order to take your local business marketing to a new level, you will have to shell out some cash, and one of the ways to spend your marketing dollars is to invest in Facebook advertising. According to the numbers coming from Facebook, over 5 million advertisers rely on their ads to reach their intended audiences in 2017. The great thing about Facebook is not just their affordability, but also the fact they allow you to target your audience based on a number of specific criteria, such as their location, sex, their online habits, likes, and interests, just to name a few.
Creating a Facebook Ad is also relatively simple, because all you have to do is come up with an attractive headline, some content that will describe what you want to offer to your potential customers, a relevant and eye-catching image, and last but not least, a link to where you want them to go, whether it’s your online shop or one of your landing pages. You also can make use of the Facebook Ads Manager, which allows you to test how your ads sets are faring with your audience so that you can find a winning combination and eliminate the amount of guesswork.
If your target audience is on Instagram, you can give Instagram Ads a shot, since they are a subsidiary of Facebook and work in much the same way, since they rely on the same database and targeting criteria.
Invest in Google Ads
This one is a no brainer since Google holds 71% of the search market share and owns the biggest online display ad network. Google AdWords is a paid channel and an expensive one at that, but given that 40,000 search queries are done on Google every single second, it is by far the best method in terms of reach when it comes to local business marketing. Keep in mind that, in order to make those dollars count, you need to pair Google AdWords with good on-page SEO, otherwise you are not going to get the desired results. So how does Google AdWords work?
The clever thing about Google AdWords is that Google calculates a score for each of your ads, depending on how relevant they are, their CTR, as well as the landing pages to which they are taking the users to. Depending on the size of this score, your bid rate will be lower or higher, with higher scores enabling you to get lower cost. Another superb thing about Google AdWords is that they can be combined with other channels in order to get even better results, which is not usually the case. Also, as your business and your budget increase, you can scale your efforts and reach out to an even wider number of potential customers.
Beef up Your SEO
Currently, Google’s Rank AI technology takes into consideration 200 major and over 10,000 minor SEO signals when determining where to rank your website or blog. Needless to say, it would be ideal if you could get on the first page of Google Search, but that sort of thing takes time, effort, and money. The best place to start would be to focus on three of the most important SEO signals, such as the quality of your content, relevant long-tail keywords, as well as backlinks. We have already mentioned how high-quality backlinks help you get traffic and bolster your authority, but they also affect your ranking.
The good news is that, if you know how to do it, SEO is totally free, but it will take some time before you can see the positive effects of search engine optimization. In order to find the most relevant small business local marketing keywords for which there isn’t too much competition but which are still profitable, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner. But you can find some good ones even without tools, by taking a look at Google’s to autocomplete feature, which will help you find relevant long-tail keywords, as well as related searches, which can be seen in the bottom left corner of the search results.
Ultimately, you can also check out places like Quora and Reddit, which are a real goldmine of user-generated content which is populated with relevant long-tail keywords and phrases you can easily integrate into your content. In addition to keywords being places inside your articles and blog posts, they also need be present in your title tags, meta descriptions, headings, subheadings, alt text, URLs, and image file names.
Don’t Forget about Email Marketing
If you have thought that email is no longer relevant because of the emergence of social media. Think again, email marketing spots a massive 4400% ROI rate, which is higher than any other form of local business marketing. This means that you will earn $44 for every $1 you invest in email marketing. Once you have the email addresses of your target audience members, it allows you to keep them notified about your activities, such as discounts and events. But, even if you aren’t hosting any events or offering any discounts at the moment, you can still use email to show the more human side of your business.
According to Simon Murray, who works in the marketing department for A-Writer, people love brands which can provide them with a more personalized experience, and which have a human face attached to it. For instance, you can send out local business internet marketing newsletters once a week or twice a month, in which you will provide potential customers with a behind-the-scenes look at your business, its employees, and their personal stories and experiences. You can even notify them every time you hire a new team member, which will demonstrate that you care about each person in your company.
Now, sending out a large number of small business local marketing emails will take forever, but if you do it with a tool such as MailChimp, you can save a lot of time in the process, plus it comes with a lot of additional features which can help your local business marketing strategies. For example, it comes with built-in design templates for your email which looks great and are responsive, which means you won’t have to spend your money hiring a designer to create those templates for you. In order to make your emails even more effective, make sure to experiment with different subject lines, calls to action, and times of distribution in order to achieve optimal results.
We have already mentioned how sharing high-quality content for free can help you establish your local business as one of the thought leaders in your industry, but here we are talking about sharing your actual product with the people as part of local business marketing. For example, you can use coupon deal sites to give out discounts and special offers to your local customers. While giving out your product, which has cost you money to develop and produce, at a discount price might not seem like the best move from a financial perspective, you will quickly get that money back through increased exposure, better brand awareness, and an influx of new customers.
However, keep in mind that you should reward loyalty before anything else. Offering a discount to your old customers is probably the best thing you can do since the numbers indicate that 40% of e-commerce revenue comes from repeat customers, yet they make up only 8% of the customer base. They also spend more than new customers, so keeping them around through special offers, discounts, and even free stuff, is definitely worth the money. You can also choose, as part of your local business internet marketing strategy, to donate your product to non-profit organizations, which will not only help you gain exposure and generate a positive buzz about your brand, but it will help you save money since donations are tax deductible. Finally, you will be doing something nice for other people.
Having an active presence on LinkedIn will enable you to get in touch with other like-minded people from the industry and exchange experiences, resources, or even establish a collaboration with them. It’s also important to rub shoulders with people on a local level. You can implement this local business marketing method by simply renting a booth on one of your local fairs, sponsoring a local team which will wear your logo on its jerseys, or by having you and your staff members volunteer and support a good cause in your local community.
And you don’t even have to wait for niche or small business local marketing events to pop up in your local area, because you can organize them yourself. Simply organize a seminar or a lunch and invite people from your community to get to know your business and spread the word about it. These days, who you know is equally important as what you know, especially if we are talking about local businesses.
Do an Audit of Your Landing Pages
Since you will be using Facebook Ads and Google AdWords, as well as email marketing as local business marketing strategies, you will need to pay special attention to your landing pages, because that is the point at which your target audience members decide whether they will become one of your customers (or at least a lead) or not. If your conversion rate is incredibly low, you may need to analyze your landing pages and determine why that is.
For instance, Marketing Experiments research shows that 48% of the landing pages contain multiple offers, which goes against the general rule of having just one offer per one landing page. Not only do multiple offers confuse your audience, but they can also diminish your conversion rate by as much as 266%.
One of local business internet marketing tricks you can do, besides just focusing on one offer per page, is to run some A/B tests on your landing pages and see which version of the page demonstrates a higher conversion rate over a specific period of time. When it comes to the elements of the page that you should test, the most obvious place to start would be its contents and the layout. Test the headline of the page, its copy, as well as the design and layout buttons, forms, and CTAs (calls to action), and see if there is anything you can do to improve them and create a landing page that is effective.
Place Ads in Local Print Media
While it is true that most of the advertising, and a lot of the publishing, has moved online, print media still has its place, and when it comes to local business marketing, it is still one of the most effective ways to promote your brand or small business. Placing an ad in the newspaper or a niche publication used to be pretty pricey, but that is no longer the case since the prices have dropped because almost everyone has moved online. However, while it may not cost you a lot of money, print advertising doesn’t really work as a standalone strategy. It’s at its most effective when it complements other forms of marketing.
There is also something to be said about print ads having a tangible presence, which is why glossy magazines and publication still pull their weight, especially in the case of a luxury good, such as watches, jewelry, and perfumes. It’s about finding the right balance between print and digital media and using both to come up with an effective local marketing strategy.
As you can see, devising the right marketing strategy for your local/small business requires you to tackle things on several fronts and wear multiple hats. In case you don’t want to spend a lot of money, save for Facebook Ads and Google AdWords. Start implementing the strategies laid out in this article. Keep at it, and once you start to see the results, you will be able to direct some of your funds to hire other people. Paid marketing is effective. However, in the long run, strategies such as good content, SEO, social media, and networking, are always the way to go. Good luck!