30 Tips for Local Digital Marketing
If you are experienced with creating a digital marketing strategy around an online-only business, you will already have a solid grounding for a local strategy, the biggest difference being the focus on geographic location and appealing to customers specifically in that area.
Take a look at the 30 tips that follow to find out how you can best tailor advertising reach to local customers for your service, store, restaurant or other locally-based business type.
If you take the time to follow each of these steps in turn, you will learn how to pull ahead of your competitors and take the promotion of your business brand to the next level in any specific location.
Have a Clean, Professional Design
The internet really leaves no room for second impressions so it is very important to make the first one count. Be sure to spend effort on making your website look the part or you may find you stumble at the first hurdle. Customers will make quick judgements about your business based solely on how your website looks and how easy it is to navigate. Internet users are quite impatient and they will soon go somewhere else if they can't quickly find what they want.
Have a Mobile Friendly Website
This is now more important than ever as a local ranking factor as more and more people are using their mobile phones to find local services when out and about. Sites optimised for viewing on mobile devices can reduce the clutter by providing more concise easily consumable information. Google and other search engines also use this as a ranking factor now, not being optimised for mobile can actually have a negative impact on your organic search results making you less competitive with rival businesses.
Optimise Your Site for Local Search
One of the most important factors in local marketing is SEO. To find out more about what SEO is you can read the article Simply, What is SEO Anyway? which goes into greater detail. Optimising the pages of your website to include location information in your page titles, headings and content is key to good positioning in Google local listings. Be sure to use locational keywords in image tags as well to take advantage of Google Image search.
Include a Map or Directions
A great way to rank locally in search engines is to include an embedded map from a service such as Google Maps somewhere prominent on your website. You can even provide written directions from a well-known local landmark or popular location to increase your customers chances of finding you. This is especially useful for those business locations that are a little out of the way or in unexpected areas.
Include Address and Opening Hours
Most websites have a contact page where they display the business address, postcode and any contact information such as a phone number or email address. If you have different points of contact for sales or customer service, or for different departments of your business make sure the information is displayed clearly and prominently. Be sure that your address is the same on your business listings as on your website, your search ranking can be negatively affected by inconsistent contact data.
Offer Multiple Contact Methods
Try and make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get in contact with you. Instead of just providing a contact number, provide an email address or maybe a contact form, it doesn't have to be too elaborate, just keep it simple. Some people may prefer interacting with you via Social Media sites such as Twitter or Facebook, be sure to set up an account with each, they can be very powerful marketing tools.
Have a Clear Call to Action
Depending on the type of business you run, you need to define a clear call to action for your customers so they know how to do business with you. If you are a retail shop you would likely tell them to pop in anytime during your opening hours. In the case of a service type business they may need to make an appointment by phone or through a contact form on your website. Be sure to figure out what is most appropriate for your business and make it clear.
Regularly Post on Social Media
Properly tapping into the potential stream of customers on social media sites is an obvious avenue to pursue, but it is important that you don't just have these accounts and do nothing with them. You must engage with people through these channels to stay on their minds and maintain a connection. If you can do this well and build a solid trust relationship, these customers will keep coming back to you time and time again rather than taking their business elsewhere.
Include Photo and Video Posts
It has been proven that photo and video posts on social media do perform a lot better than just text only updates, it's because we humans are visual animals. A well placed photo or small video clip can be informative, showing off a product or a service being performed, or even be a bit more lighthearted to show how approachable and down to earth you are. In fact that can be a very effective method of maintaining a strong rapport with customers on social media as they are mostly sociable by nature.
Always Keep Your Audience in Mind
Make sure that whatever you are posting is relevant and useful to your target audience. For example here I post articles on marketing as it has a direct correlation with website design, people need to find your site after it is complete. If you run a heating business you could advise people on how to keep their house warm in the winter months for example, or if you operate in the food industry you could provide details of recipies or help on how to correctly store and preserve different food items.
Consider Social Media Advertising
Make sure you look into Social Media advertising. There are certain business types that lend themselves better to different social media platforms. Twitter is a great place for creative industries such as print, design and programming. Facebook is better for local service based businesses such as plumbers, decorators and small retail shops. This type of advertising follows the PPC (Pay Per Click) model that makes it very flexible, allowing you to set and manage your own monthly marketing budget.
Use Search Engine PPC Advertising
Taking advantage of Googles Adwords service to pay for clicks through to your website is a good way to start generating traffic to a brand new site that is not ranking highly in regular search just yet. This is especially true if your business deals in multiple disciplines. The advantages of using such a service is that you control the budget and there is no minimum spend requirement. The service also provides a lot of valuable tracking data that allows you to research what works and what doesn't.
Direct to Relevant Landing Pages
Another big advantage of using Google Adwords is that if your business deals in multiple disciplines you can run a mix of adverts that target a specific product or service. These adverts will then easily direct highly relevant traffic to specific landing pages on your website. You can of course still run a more generalised advert that sends people to your home page, but by taking advantage of landing pages you create more opportunities to generate traffic.
Constantly Refine Your Strategy
When you have a marketing strategy defined, it is important to keep a close eye on what is working and what is not and react responsively. If a keyword is underperforming, drop it and change it up. Do more of what works and less of what doesn't whilst also looking at new avenues of opportunity. Learn or pay someone to analyse your marketing data to spot trends and track busy or slow sales periods. You can then use these periods to run special offers or approach different types of marketing.
Follow Through By Retargeting
As retargeting is a growing practice among the larger retail brands you may have seen this happening to you recently. If you have ever been on Amazon and looking for a specific product but decided not to buy, you may have noticed adverts appearing for that exact same product everywhere you go. This is retargeting and it's a way of reminding a potential customer of a sale they nearly transacted but didn't follow through with, it keeps your brand fresh in their mind and may still lead to you making that sale.
Claim and Optimise Local Listings
To get ranking well in local search results you need citations, better known by most as business listings. Before the internet these used to be things like the Yellow Pages and Thomson Phone Directory. Now in website form the Yellow Pages and Thomson Local listings are still some of the best, along with local papers and more niche listings for specific business types. Some of these sites can be submitted too, whilst others are auto-generated. In the latter instance you can usually speak to someone and provide corrections to your contact details if need be. Seek out and claim your business listings and make sure they display all of your details correctly.
Keep Local Listings Updated
To follow on from the previous tip, be sure to keep all such local business listings updated whenever your details change. Not only do these listings have the potential to generate sales enquiries, as long as the contact information is correct, they also act as a local ranking signal for your website in the search engines. Google will be able to associate these listings with your website and establish your locational presence, as long as all the data matches what you have on your website as closely as possible.
Observe Your Online Reviews
Be sure to read any online reviews you may be getting from customers. You may have a system in place on your website for reviews, or they may be left through your social media accounts or Google My Business page. Most, if not all of these services has a rating system where the customer will grade you and a space for writing a short summary of their experiences dealing with your business. Those that allow you to respond should be actioned to show your personal commitment to individual satisfaction.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Do not ignore and definitely do not delete negative online reviews as doing so is likely to effectively end your relationship with that customer. Instead turn a weakness or failing into a strength by responding, reassure the customer of your commitment to service and apologise. We all have bad days and days where we are more likely to leave a negative review. Quite often simply engaging with someone who has left negative feedback, by giving them personal attention, will help to diffuse the situation amicably.
Accept Constructive Feedback
Constructive criticism doesn't have to come solely from a negative review. You may have some very positive reviews from happy customers who also have some suggestions for improvement. Be on the look out for these as sometimes the customer offers a unique perspective on your business, one that is still highly relevant to you, that will shine a light on problem areas you would not have spotted. Keep a level head and respond positively to any suggestions even if your intention is not to implement them.
Observe Patterns in Reviews
Keep an eye out for any discernable patterns that may emerge in your reviews. If a lot of your customers are being vocal about the same topic, it is quite likely that you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately it is the case that people are more likely to discuss a negative than a positive which is why this can be a telltale sign. On that rare occassion where people are being gracious on mass be sure to reward yourself and your team for a job well done, and thank the customers for their praise.
Share Any Concerns With Staff
If you find that recent reviews are shining a light on problem areas of your business be sure to speak to your staff straight away. Maybe customers have been complaining about late deliveries or possibly poor communication from a sales or customer service representative. If this is happening a lot, and especially if the culpable party is named, it may be time to take whatever action is needed to rectify the problem and prevent further damage to your business reputation.
Think Like Your Customers
If you put yourself in the shoes of your customers, think like them and see things how they do you, you will gain a deeper level of insight into their needs as well as a better understanding of what they expect from you. This can help when picking keywords to focus your marketing efforts on, choosing them based on what your intuition tells you your customers would look for, and what kind of content you should be creating for the most far reaching appeal.
Ask Customers to Give Feedback
Whether you engage with your customers primarily through social media, a forum or via phone or email you should encourage them to provide feedback about their positive and negative experiences. It doesn't hurt to listen to your customers views which goes hand-in-hand with learning more about your audience, even if you decide that the feedback they provide is not valuable it still affords the customer a sense of connection and input that is mutually rewarding to your relationship.
Email Out Customer Surveys
Another great way to gather feedback from your customers is to send out emails after a purchase or after a service has been delivered. You can request they fill out an online survey that you provide a link to, detailing their experience and rating your performance in key service areas. This can even factor into a staff exercise that can motivate healthy competition within your team, maybe with a reward or bonus incentive each month for the best performing employee.
Be Social in Your Signage
An often missed opportunity for better social engagement with customers can be found in your signage, depending if your business serves customers directly on premises. A lot of retail shop fronts include signage in the windows or on billboards, and they mostly use this space for product advertisement or offers. You can also display your social media page addresses here to give your customers a chance to interact with you after a purchase and keep up to date on discounts and new products.
Help Customers Find You Online
Be sure to promote your website address in-store too, if you don't your customers might not even be aware that you have a website. I have witnessed this myself at many small business shops. Zero promotion of a website that I have later found by chance, some of which offer full online sales displaying their entire product catalogue. Nobody is utilising it because they don't know it's there and the business is missing out on an untapped stream of online revenue.
Provide an App for Local Customers
This isn't for everyone, but it can be a great boon to offer local customers a phone app if your particular business model compliments it. One such app that I've seen was for a retro games store. The store itself bought and sold retro games and consoles, but it's app provided up-to-date prices for what retro games were worth depending on their condition, if they came with original manuals and boxes. It also showed the location and times of local garage sales making it wildly popular amongst collectors.
Measure the Impact of Your Efforts
You must spend time evaluating your efforts, both with your website and your advertising campaign. You should set up Google Analytics on your website so you can track how well your pages are performing and find which content performs the best. Adwords and Social Media PPC provide their own data tracking pages which allow you to monitor your impressions or reach and number of clicks. You should check the performance as often as you can to stay on top of things.
Constantly Tweak Based on Results
You should not be afraid to experiment when you have the data at hand. Find positive trends and exploit them to your advantage, remove or alter underperforming adverts and always be on the lookout for new keyword opportunities. It may be a month or two after initially setting things up before you have enough data to make any real judgments on.
Looking to promote your business locally?
If you would like to increase local sales and brand visibility, work with me to put in place an effective and proven digital marketing strategy. Check out my digital marketing services page for further details on this and other digital marketing solutions.