Local Marketing: How to Promote Your Business Locally
Local marketing is any marketing activity aimed at attracting customers within a certain radius located within the area surrounding your company. The main difference between local marketing and other types of marketing is its geographical focus. All marketing activities are aimed at the target audience that lives or works near your points of sale.
Local marketing is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses, whose customers must come to the point of sale to get a service or buy a product. Here are several examples of such companies:
- Beauty salons
- Public notaries
- Medical centers, private dentists, massage therapists
- Car service stations, and car washes
- Restaurants and cafes without delivery services
- Retail stores without online departments
A recent study by Bright Local found that 90% of users searched for products and services near them via the internet in 2019 and 33% act in the same way on a daily basis. This is the key reason why local marketing is important. In other words, it will help you deliver your offer to people who need your products and services and who live or work near your business.
Key Mistakes When Doing Local Marketing
In local marketing, it is especially important to choose the right strategy. There are two main errors made by the new players in this field:
- Very broad coverage
- Large target audience
Very broad coverage. By saying “very broad” we mean that you are directing your marketing efforts to a territory that is larger than you really need. Your resources are spent on attracting the attention of people who are too far away to use your services.
According to the study, 93% of consumers will never spend more than 20 minutes to find a store, cafe, cinema, and other venues. Besides, the more frequent the purchases are made, the shorter the desired distance is. For example, people prefer to make daily grocery purchases in stores near their home or work. In other words, they want to visit stores that can be reached in 5-6 minutes.
Therefore, it is not necessary to direct efforts at those located outside of this 20-minute (or even smaller) radius. It’s nothing but a waste of time and money.
Large target audience. The explanation of this second main error is simple. You need to keep in mind that not everyone who lives within 20 minutes of your destination is interested in your products and services. After drawing a clearly outlined circle on the map, you need to focus only on your target audience.
Key Types of Local Marketing
All local marketing activities are divided into three major categories:
Let’s have a look at several strategies in each of these types and give tips on how to work with them.
Increase the Citation Rate of Your NAP
The term NAP (name, address, phone) is the core of your local online profile. The local “citation” means that one can find different mentions of your company on various sites on the internet.
The citation rate contributes to your local promotion in several ways:
- First of all, it improves your company’s ranking in local search. It helps you when a user opens Google to find a product or service by specifying their city, district, or other geographical locations. The more mentions you have, the better the ranking is.
- It improves the visibility of your business in local search results. After creating a local profile on several resources, the entire first page of search results may be occupied exclusively with links to your company.
- It creates additional channels for attracting customers. For example, some people are used to searching for stores, gas stations, cafes, and other local companies exclusively in Google Maps, while others prefer to search for products and services on Yelp. By creating your profile on multiple platforms, you will get direct access to these users.
- It confirms the authenticity of key information about your company. Before getting in the car and heading to your store, pharmacy, or salon, the customer must be sure they can find you at this address. If your name and address match in several sources, this is a good sign for the consumer. This is why it is important to make sure that the NAP is always up-to-date and accurate in all sources.
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Information about your company from Google My Business goes to the search results (SERP), as well as to the search results on Google Maps. Basic optimization means that you have placed your profile in the correct category, the information is up-to-date, and all the fields are filled in accurately.
Information from your Google My Business profile affects the following:
- The list of keywords your company will be shown for in the local search
- Ranking positions
- The perception of the company by other users
What can be done to improve the optimization?
- Fill in the company description and include some keywords, that can be used to search for your business online, into the text. This will give Google an idea of what parameters to rank you by. In addition, a good description will attract the attention of a potential customer and encourage them to call you or visit your point of sale.
- Select the correct category and subcategory to place your profile in. This is an important ranking factor.
- Upload more photos to your profile. All pictures must be bright and have the highest possible quality. This will attract the attention of users and create a positive impression of your company.
- Encourage customers to leave feedback and respond to them. Reviews are an important ranking factor for a search engine. In addition, they have a very strong influence on the consumers’ choices and often determine whether they will choose you or your competitor.
Track Your Positions in the Local Ranking Results
This is just simple monitoring and tracking: what keywords can be used to find you in the local search and how this picture changes over time. In addition, you can see the list of platforms used to find your business.
Monitoring does not have to be done manually. There are many services and tools that automate this process. For example, you can use Google Analytics and the Google Search Console to track the search queries.
It turns out that the process of monitoring is simple and can be automated. At the same time, it gives you an unlimited number of advantages.
- The most obvious benefit is the ability to control the results of local promotion. You can optimize a certain section of SEO and use monitoring tools to see whether this has led to an increase or decrease in positions, or whether it has not affected them in any way. The growth of positions in local SEO is an increase in the number of calls and completed routes to your location. In the last two cases, thanks to monitoring, you can change your strategy in a timely manner.
- After studying the results, you can understand what strategies or promotion channels are not worth spending time and resources on. On the other hand, you can identify areas that produce good results and increase investment in them.
- It is possible to monitor the positions of competitors in the local search. You will have a clear idea of your company’s position relative to others in your area. Furthermore, you will be able to learn the strategies of those who are ahead of you and apply the best of them in your own company.
Don’t Forget to Work With Reviews
Never forget that reputation is everything for your business. But this is especially important for stores, beauty salons, car washes, and other businesses demanded by local people.
Therefore, you should actively monitor what is being said about you on the internet, as well as encourage customers to share positive experiences with you. By doing so, you can make sure other people will see it.
What are the benefits of working with reviews?
- Reviews from local users give an idea of what customers value in you or in your product and service. This information will help you protect these key advantages of your business, develop them, and form a unique offer on their grounds.
- Although no one likes to read bad reviews, they are still very valuable. Negative feedback helps you identify recurring problems and fix them.
- Timely monitoring allows you to quickly identify a bad review, respond to it in the correct manner, and even contact the customer to solve the problem in person. This is important because a negative review with no answer from the company spoils the impression other customers have about you. In addition, an outraged customer can write a similar review on other websites, thus increasing the negative wave, which is really bad for you.
- The number and dynamics of reviews (how often they are published) affect your position in search results. Therefore, the more reviews you have and the more regularly new ones appear, the better is your ranking.
Reviews on the internet have almost completely replaced the good old “word of mouth.” The consumer studies at least 10 reviews on Google Maps or Yelp before choosing a company. To increase the number of new leads and sales, you need a constant fresh stream of reviews.
Many companies don’t really want to work with reviews. This is a result of the lack of resources (time, employees, etc.), as well as because they do not fully understand the importance of this work. But if you make it a regular marketing task for the company, you will be rewarded with a better search engine rating and increased consumer confidence.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices
Keeping in mind the Google Mobile First algorithm and the ever-growing percentage of users who use mobile devices to surf and search the web, an adaptive website is a prerequisite for any marketing strategy.
Many users access the internet from their smartphones or tablets. Even if they have a computer at home or at work, people often search for services and products near them (cafes, service stations, shops, beauty salons, etc.) from their mobile devices. They can be on the road, at a bus stop, and so on, and they use the mobile devices to make an order. Just imagine that during the last Black Friday, the number of sales made by users with mobile devices amounted to $2.9 billion.
At the same time, a regular website can’t be used on gadgets like smartphones. It is designed for a fast internet connection speed, a large screen, using a mouse to navigate, and so on. In the case of a smartphone, working with such a site becomes extremely uncomfortable for the user, and the speed of the internet on mobile phones is often slower than the speed of the wired network.
The client expects something completely different:
- Fast page loading
- Large and convenient site elements that are easy to interact with
- Request and order forms have to be convenient to fill out even on small screens
If your website does not meet these requirements, the client will most likely go to a competitor who has found the time and money to go for an adaptive website development.
It is important to remember that Google gives priority in the ranking to sites optimized for mobile devices, which means that site adaptability becomes the main requirement for promotion in the local search.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Pay-per-click advertising is an easy way to get new calls and visits to your retail outlets or offices within the shortest timeframe. In the case of Google Ads, you can create ad campaigns with the “visit my stores” goal. As a result, your company will be shown at the top of the list of local search results, in the so-called “Local 3-Pack” (the top three results of the Local Pack).
This ad does not contain advertising text, as we are used to seeing in ordinary Google Ads. At the same time, it contains all the necessary information from your profile: business name, address, phone number, opening hours, a link to the website, and the feature to get directions to your location.
The main advantage of advertising in the local search is the speed of results.
The results of SEO promotion can often be seen only after a few months, while the advertising campaign will start bringing you traffic to the website and phone calls on the first day. Users will see your ad in the top positions of search results, and will be located near your business. And If you have a decent rating and a large number of reviews, they can increase the user’s trust and the performance of your PPC campaign.
Use Printed Advertising
Printed advertising is an advertisement in local newspapers and magazines, as well as a variety of printed advertising materials:
- Business cards
Local media. Despite the fact that the print press is increasingly giving way to digital media, there can be a local newspaper that people in your area are used to buy. The cost of placing an ad in such a newspaper is usually low, so it makes sense to use this channel to attract customers, especially if your target audience may be among the readers of this newspaper or magazine.
Support Local Events and Charities
If you have enough money, you can allocate funds to help with various public events:
- Local school sports competitions
- Charity fairs and concerts
- Events that are closely related to your business (for example, food courts, if you are a cafe or restaurant)
You can even take part in such events without placing ads. In addition, a good option would be to support an animal shelter, hospital, or school.
How it will help your local marketing strategy:
- Social activities will bring fame to your company and brand. Place your company’s logo or name on the uniform and organize branded tables with your products at a food court or fair. Visitors of the event will learn about you and remember your trademark.
- Sponsorship will help you earn a good reputation in the eyes of the target audience or improve it.
- You can use your website and pages in social networks to mention it, thus more people will learn about the useful things you do. You can also announce fundraising and publish reports on the allocation of money. This will also increase the reputation of your local profile.
- Such activities are often covered in local newspapers and city portals, which will allow you to get more links to your profile or website, and, again, increase brand awareness and improve your reputation.
Use Ads with a Limited Geotargeting on Facebook
When you create a Facebook ad campaign, you can mark a very small area on the map, and your ads will only be shown to people in that location.
Additionally, enter the settings for the interests of your target audience and demographic parameters. This way you can make sure that you don’t spend your advertising budget on impressions to people who are far away from you or aren’t your target audience.
Other Free and Paid Marketing Strategies
Use Email Newsletters
Email marketing is based on sending emails to your customers (both regular or new). To comply with regulations, you have to make sure to send emails to the addresses of people, who have agreed to receive your special offers and news by email.
You can use mailing lists in the following ways:
- Advertise new products and services
- Report promotions, sales, and special offers
- Provide personal discounts to a specific segment of your customers (i.e. for women on the occasion of the Mother’s Day)
- Provide your subscribers with useful and informative content
The email marketing industry is extremely automated. You do not need to send emails manually. There are many special services for this. You can also use them to do the following:
- Create emails with an attractive design without much knowledge of layout and Photoshop
- Schedule the distribution of information on specific dates
- Create various automatic mailings, whether to customers who put the product in the “basket” but did not buy it or to customers who used your services, with a request to evaluate the quality of service.
Never Stop Developing Social Networks
Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms are used for Social Media Marketing (SMM) promotions. When utilized in the right way, social networks are one of the most effective segments of local marketing.
Social networks are now used by everyone, from school children to elderly people. In addition, they are used not only to post photos and watch funny videos but also to make purchases. You only need to determine which social network your customers prefer to use. For example, Facebook is not the best to target IT professionals, while LinkedIn is not the best option if your target audience consists of housewives.
SMM allows you to do the following:
- Create a page for your company, brand, or even a separate retail outlet
- Publish ads related to promotions and sales, company news, and information about new products and services
- Add a tab with products to the page (with a photo, price, and the “Buy” or “Order” button)
- Talk with your customers on all issues, including ordering a product in real-time
The main advantage of this segment is that it is absolutely free. You only need a human resource (an employee and their time).
Therefore, many small local companies (nail salons, clothing stores, spas and massage salons, private nutritionists, and many others) use pages in social networks instead of a website; they publish information, accept orders, respond to customers, inform about changes or the status of orders, and so on.
If the budget allows, companies can use paid advertising options within each network. This will help to increase brand awareness and attract visitors to your retail points. In social networks, you can target your audience in a specific location with high accuracy (thanks to the extensive demographic information provided by users themselves).
Place Links to Your Website on Other Resources
Links are the paths that lead customers to your company. The more links you have, the more leads you get. Imagine that a well-known blogger in your city posted a link to your website in an article or a video on YouTube. Any reader of this blog or a viewer can easily get to your resource by simply clicking on the link.
Therefore, you need to talk with various blogs, websites, and portals about placing links to your website. Most often, you have to pay or provide some interesting content (articles, videos) for this resource.
Links are also extremely important for SEO promotion. This is the main ranking factor, as they increase the trust of search engines in your company. If your website has a lot of relevant links, it will take higher positions in search results, including local ones. This means that you will get more traffic to your website from Google, and this will also have a positive impact on sales.
Create Useful Content Tailored to the Interests of Your Local Audience
Content marketing is another area that is used for local promotion. You can maintain a blog or news section on your website and additionally post links to them in your social networks.
Topics for articles and news have to be focused on your audience (users who live near your company). You can add some city news, an overview of local events, and useful information about the choice of products and services.
For example, a car service center can publish not only car reviews and other thematic content, but also news about the state of local roads, up-to-date information about road repairs in the city, gasoline prices at the nearest gas stations, and other things, which are interesting specifically to customers in your city (as opposed to the whole country).
You can use Google Trends to track the interests of your target audience in your region. This tool helps you determine what people from your location are looking for.
Benefits of content marketing:
- Content marketing adds extra value to your website in the eyes of customers. They will visit your blog specifically to read the latest news.
- It also generates links to your resource (users will share interesting articles from your site in social networks and forums). As we have already mentioned, this contributes to SEO promotion and increasing positions in search results.
- It also contributes to the popularity of your pages in social networks, where you will publish your articles.
Local marketing is a truly limitless source for your business. It has the following key areas:
- Mailing lists and content
- Social networks
Do not forget that local marketing is especially useful for small and medium-sized businesses. Kindly note that the strategies we described above can be adapted to your business and used in various combinations.