When your business only serves a specific region, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you need to aim for offline marketing methods exclusively. After all, the internet is global, so it isn’t as effective if you want to advertise only for a specific region, right?
While many people think that way, this is not the case at all! There are a lot of online marketing tools you can use to reach a regional audience, and those methods become particularly attractive when you realize that your competitors probably disregard them as well.
By mastering a few digital marketing tools for local businesses, you can get way ahead of the competition – improving your brand awareness and increasing your customer base in no time. Read on to find out the best local marketing tactics at your disposal.
Create a Google Business Profile Listing
This first one may sound a little obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often businesses skip this elementary step. A business’ Google listing appears prominently on the search page whenever a potential customer searches for the company. It also shows its location on the map when they browse nearby.
A Google listing can also provide useful information for current and prospective clients since they show them your hours, address, phone number, and even display a graphic of how busy it gets at specific times, based on customers who check in.
Another benefit of a Google Listing is that it allows people to post opinions and ask questions about your business. You can then reply to those and position your business as one that listens to its customers.
Since anyone can see messages and replies, they’re a great way to help people get a sense of your business. It also gives them a handy list of common questions and their answers.
Depending on how popular your business is, there might even be already an automatically created listing, which you can claim to officially reply to questions and keep the information up to date.
Run Locally Targeted Search Ads
Another very powerful tool you can use to advertise a local business is to run ads targeted by location. This way, you can make sure you’re not spending money advertising to people who live too far away to become your customers.
There are many different ways to target locally, and their availability might vary depending on the platform you choose to run your ads on. The simplest one is to target the city you operate in, but you can be even more specific if you like.
For instance, you can target a specific neighborhood or a couple of neighborhoods in an area. You can even define a specific radius around a point – such as your delivery radius, for instance – and only show your ads there.
If you want to get into the specifics, it’s possible to target even more precisely. Some tools allow you to target people currently in the area, who live in the area, or who visit it frequently.
By combining these filters with the other ones that ad platforms provide – such as filtering by age, gender, and interests – you can paint a particular picture of what your customers look like and get shown to people who meet these criteria.
Last but not least, there are even a couple of ways you can use ads to compete with other businesses in your area. Imagine if you targeted an ad at people who have shown interest in a competitor, or better yet, visited one of their locations recently.
If you’re smart about it, you can show these potential customers your advantages compared to your competitors, and soon start attracting them into your stores! All it takes is some practice with the ad platforms and a little bit of creativity in your targeting.
Have an Online Presence with a Website
While a Google listing is a good first step, you can do way more when it comes to putting your business out there on the internet. A simple website and a handful of social media accounts can go a long way, as long as you use them correctly and keep them updated.
A website is another must, since it’s helpful to have all the information a customer might want at their disposal. If it makes sense for your business, you might sell a few products online. You could even have a way for customers to use your services or set an appointment through the website directly.
On the other hand, social media accounts are helpful because they offer a way for customers to get in touch more informally. It helps keep your business in their minds.
If your accounts are actively maintained and engage with customers, it’ll probably result in some new ones, too. The algorithms will show your account to people who are similar to the ones who interact with it, and soon people who have never heard of your business will be learning about what you do!
Keep In Touch with Customers
Now that you’re online, it can be beneficial to try and leverage your current customer base into an audience for your digital platforms. After all, they already like and trust you, so they’ll probably be happy to follow you and engage with your posts from time to time.
Another helpful thing to do is get clients’ contact information, such as their e-mail or phone number. Doing so allows you to message them from time to time with a friendly reminder of the services you offer, or maybe even let them know about a large discount.
Whatever method you choose to keep in touch, it will probably help you become your customers’ go-to – so next time they need something your company offers, they’ll be more likely to choose you for the job.
Of course, this approach comes with a few risks, so don’t overdo it. It is possible to communicate too much, to the point that you’ll annoy your customers and followers.
Make sure not to be too insistent when trying to get a sale, and remember that the messages need to be friendly, appropriate, and ideally useful to the recipients. It’s also a good idea to research the etiquette of the platforms you use so you don’t contact or post too often.
Utilize SEO To Make Sure You’re In the Top Search Results
Last but not least, a reliable way to get a constant influx of new clients is to make sure your business appears prominently when nearby users look for your category online. After all, having a website and being on all kinds of platforms won’t have an impact if prospective customers can’t find you when they look.
Now, it isn’t easy to get your business to appear in the top results. Search engine algorithms are very complex, and their inner workings are kept secret. This is why there is an entire field of digital marketing dedicated to improving your standing on these platforms.
If you have heard of Search Engine Optimization before, this is exactly what it is. Usually abbreviated as SEO, the term refers to the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic your pages receive from online searches.
While it is possible to do your research and try to get your pages to rank higher yourself, it will likely take a long time to learn, and it can be an overwhelming process, especially if you have competition trying to rank high as well.
If you can afford to hire a professional, it’s a good idea to do so – even more so if you don’t see results on your own. A professional is bound to give you better and longer-lasting results, and their services can pay for themselves many times over in the long run.
By ranking higher on search results, you can start to receive organic traffic that will get you new customers indefinitely, without the need to continue to pay, as you do with ads. This is the main advantage of SEO over other acquisition methods – your efforts can keep giving you results for years on end.
Now Get to Work, and Get Online
Now that you know the secrets to marketing your local business online, it’s time to put them into practice. Ideally, you’d do them in the order they are listed here in this article, skipping those you might already have set up.
Some of these might require a little technical knowledge, while others will take a while to figure out even if you’re tech-savvy. Just do it on your own time, and don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time around.
Digital marketing itself is a relatively new phenomenon, and many local businesses don’t try it or don’t stick to it due to a lack of familiarity. If you can keep going until you start seeing the results you’re looking for, you’ll be way ahead of the competition and be glad you took the time to do it.