Creating a digital marketing strategy for a local business is quite different than creating one for an online-only business. Your local digital marketing strategy should specifically target and appeal to potential customers in your geographic area.
To better reach local customers for your store, restaurant or other locally focused business, take a look at the local digital marketing tips below.
Local Digital Marketing Tips
Have a Mobile Friendly Website
This is an important local digital marketing tip for any business. But for local businesses, it can be even more essential. Customers who are looking for a restaurant, store or other local business are likely to do a search on their phone or mobile device. If you don’t have a mobile optimized site, not only will it be difficult for them to interact with your site, but it will also be difficult for them to find it in the first place.
Tiffany Monhollon, director of content marketing for ReachLocal, said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “Google recently updated its mobile algorithm so that businesses that don’t have mobile friendly websites may not show up in mobile search results when consumers search (and other prominent search engines followed this pattern).”
Optimize Your Site for Local Search
If you want local customers, either on mobile or desktop, to find you, you have to have a comprehensive search strategy. Your website should include information about the products and services you provide, your location, and other relevant keywords.
Have a Clean, Professional Design
Local customers who are browsing websites to decide where to eat, shop or obtain various services are going to make a judgement about your business based on its website. So you need to make sure that it looks professional and offers all the relevant information they might be looking for.
Include Address and Hours
One of the most common things customers look for on websites of local businesses is the location and hours. Make sure that information is clearly marked and easy to find so customers won’t be left guessing.
Offer Multiple Contact Methods
You should also make it easy for people to contact you if they have additional questions. Offer a phone number, email, social media accounts, live chat, or some combination so that people always have a way to get in touch.
Have a Clear Call to Action
The main goal of your website is likely to help your business gain customers. So you need to make it clear to people who visit how they should go about doing business with you. Do they need to call and make an appointment? Should they just stop by during business hours? Have a clear call to action so that customers will know exactly what steps they should take.
Regularly Post on Social Media
This may be an obvious local digital marketing tip as social media can also be a great tool for targeting potential customers online. But you have to actually engage people on those sites. That means you have to post regularly to stay top of mind.
But Always Keep Your Audience in Mind While Posting
You also have to post things that are actually relevant and useful to your audience. If you offer heating and cooling services, maybe that means you could post links to helpful articles about keeping your home cool enough during the summer or warm enough during the winter. That type of content gives people more of an incentive to follow and interact with your business online.
Include Multimedia Posts
Media like photos and videos can also be helpful to your social media strategy. Make sure that they always fit with your overall goals and include a call to action.
Consider Social Media Advertising Targeting Your Area
Advertising on social sites like Facebook can help you increase your reach and gain an audience for your business online. Just make sure that your campaigns target relevant customers in your area.
Leverage Locally Targeted Advertising
Whether you’re advertising on Facebook, Google or other online platforms, targeting is essential. Always target customers in your city or community and use other relevant factors as well.
Monhollon says, “One of the main ways to ensure you are maximizing your budget with local advertising is to leverage targeting capabilities to reach local consumers. That way, you are focusing as much of your budget as possible on people most relevant to your business.”
Use Search Engine Advertising — Again Locally Targeted
Search engine advertising can be another great way to get your business in front of relevant customers. Platforms like Google allow for local targeting. And with the right strategy, you can reach customers that are looking for exactly what your business offers.
Create Locally Optimized Keywords
Part of your local digital marketing strategy should be choosing keywords that are both relevant to your business and your location. Targeting people who are looking for an Italian restaurant in some other state won’t do your business any good. So make sure you include your location information in keywords.
Choose Relevant Landing Pages
When people click those advertisements, you need to think about where you want them to land on your website. Should it be the main page or the page for a particular product or service? You could also create a landing page specific to an advertising campaign if you feel that is necessary.
Refine Your Advertising Strategy Based on Response
Through the process of advertising, you’ll need to monitor your results and make changes based on what’s working. If a particular keyword phrase isn’t bringing you any clicks or actual business, it may be necessary to switch it up.
Monhollon elaborates, “Once it’s set up, you should regularly refine these configurations to those variables and components that are driving the right results — conversions in the form of calls, web form fills, emails, etc. — and not just clicks. A good cost per click rate is important, but it’s more important to make sure that you are driving people to actually contact your business.”
Bring Previous Visitors Back with Retargeting
Retargeting also provides a great opportunity for your business to convert leads who may have been interested before but just didn’t complete a purchase for whatever reason.
Claim and Optimize Your Local Listings
Sites like Yelp, Google and others also provide a lot of information to online customers about local businesses. So it’s important that you claim the listings for your business so that you can control the basic information.
Keep Your Information Continuously Updated
If your business ever changes its hours, location or other information, you need to make sure that those local listings are updated so that customers don’t get confused.
Monitor Online Reviews
Online reviews are also incredibly important for local businesses. Make sure that you regularly monitor sites like Yelp and Facebook to see if any action needs to be taken.
Respond to Negative Reviews When Appropriate
When people share negative reviews about your business, it may be necessary for you to respond. Every situation is different, but an apology and acknowledgement of their experience can sometimes go a long way.
Accept Constructive Feedback
Receiving criticism from online reviewers can be tough. But it can also help improve your business if you allow it. Take what your customers say to heart and see if it can help you make relevant improvements.
Keep an Eye Out for Themes
If online reviewers are constantly sharing the same complaints, you likely need to make a change in that area. Or if they share something positive about your business, that could also help you create some talking points about your business for your marketing efforts.
Share Concerns With Your Team
Share the concerns gained from online reviews or otherwise with your employees. If you need to make improvements, they should know what and why.
Create a Customer-Focused Mindset
But you don’t always have to wait for customers to point out a flaw in order to address it. Try to think like a customer and encourage your employees to do the same. If you do this, you could prevent some of those negative reviews from ever being posted in the first place.
Remind Happy Customers to Share Feedback
Of course, some customers are just more likely to share complaints over positive comments. But you need some positive reviews to maintain your online reputation. So remind happy customers that they can leave feedback on sites like Yelp.
Put Reminders in Follow-up Emails
It can help to remind people to leave reviews or feedback when you send them a follow-up email after completing their purchase. This also helps to ensure that they were happy with the experience and to keep your business at the top of their mind.
Promote Your Online Presence in Your Signage
You can also ask customers to leave reviews or visit your website or social accounts by including that information on the signs at your location. That could increase your reach online and encourage customers to do business with you again.
Tell In-Person Customers Where to Find You Online
Whether you put it on signs, in pamphlets or just tell people, make sure you let in-person customers know where they can find you online in case they have any questions or just want to follow along with your latest business updates.
Target Hyper-Local Customers With Apps
Mobile apps now offer unique opportunities to target customers who are in very close proximity to a business. So if your business has an app, you could use it to send alerts or offers to your customers who are nearby. You could also use other location-based apps like Foursquare to send out such offers.
Measure the Full Impact of Your Marketing Efforts
No matter which local digital marketing strategy you choose for your local business, it’s important to track your progress and find out what is working and what isn’t.
Constantly Tweak Your Efforts Based on Results
Over time, you’ll be able to determine which tactics give your business the best return on investment. This likely means that you’ll want to refocus some of your efforts on those local digital marketing tactics that are bringing you the most customers.
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