Even in today’s technological era, word-of-mouth advertising is still essential, particularly for small businesses. Some studies suggest as many as 85% of local consumers find their favorite brands by way of word of mouth. If you’re living in the small business space, it’s crucial to learn how to speak to your audience in ways that make sense to them so you can find, reach, engage with, and appeal to potential new customers on an ongoing basis.
At Surefire Local, we spend our time helping our clients understand the answer to one pivotal conundrum: How to grow your small business profitably by deploying effective local marketing strategies. If you can relate, stay tuned because we have everything you need to know about growing your brand awareness and getting more customers through your door. Before we can help you understand the most effective local marketing strategies available to you and your team, let’s talk about the basics building blocks first.
6 Essential Building Blocks to a Successful Online Marketing Strategy
Before you can really create your own strategy, you need to understand the foundation behind what makes certain strategies work well (while others may fail). Local marketing utilizes strategies and tactics that are specifically intended for potential customers who live within a certain radius of the business that’s doing the advertising. It can also be referred to as neighborhood marketing or location-based marketing because it’s targeting a group of people who dwell within certain communities.
A successful online marketing strategy entails a number of characteristics. The following are a few elements you should be able to display if you want to make the most of your marketing efforts:
Have you ever spent minutes looking for a company’s phone number, address, or other contact information? If so, you know how frustrating it can be, and you don’t want your own customers to experience the same feats when they run across your business online.
Make sure your business information is accurate and up to date so the search engines and the people who are using them can easily identify you and contact you when they’re ready to reach out.
Profiles & Listings
It’s not uncommon for local business owners to neglect to claim their Google My Business listings, but this can be a terribly detrimental decision in the long run. If you fall into this category, you’re missing out on a valuable local marketing strategy. Your profile should include your business name, phone number, and full address. You should also offer searchers any other pertinent information they might be looking for, such as your hours, directions, and links to your website or social sites.
When you’re creating your profiles and listings, be sure to include enticing photos and caption everything with keyword-inspired tags. This will not only help the humans who are searching for the products and services you provide, but it will also help the search engines categorize your work for future inquiries.
From a small business perspective, you really need to hone in on your reputation management. The way you handle reviews and comments about your brand could either bring new customers to your door or send loyal people flooding away. It’s all about learning how to communicate online, whether you’re touting promos or addressing customers’ concerns.
It’s key to focus on search engine optimization, particularly when you’re trying to target local audiences. Your search engine optimization (SEO) practices should employ keyword research in ways that facilitate search-inspired content. In other words, you need to use the words that your searchers are searching for.
Beyond just creating great words, photos, and videos that are valuable and informative, you need to make sure that your content is easily viewed on all types of devices. Mobile web traffic surpassed desktop usage a few years ago, and phone users are going strong these days, so if your content isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re surely losing out on potential customers.
As a local business leader, you can target your ads to reach prospective customers who are in your service area. Google, Facebook, and other digital platforms offer you ways to advertise to your local audience optimally. Of course, you don’t have to rely solely on digital marketing to get the job done (although, you certainly need to have your footprint in the digital real estate); you can also utilize local newspapers, radio spots, and local sponsorships to help get the word out to your community about who you are and what you have to offer.
Social proof essentially explains how people act when they see others behaving in a certain manner. From a small business perspective, people are more likely to patronize your establishment if they see others doing the same thing. When prospective customers see people making purchases from you, it seems like the right thing to do, and they’re more likely to follow suit.
Adding social proof to your online presence can help people come to trust you sooner. You can do this by:
- Allowing customer reviews
- Working with influencers
- Partnering with experts in your industry
Building a Strong Local Online Presence: Best Practices
Now that you know the core building blocks associated with building a strong local online presence, let’s talk about the 6 most effective local marketing strategies that can help you grow your small business.
1. Local SEO
Your local marketing campaign should be designed in ways that help leverage web traffic so you get real-life customers coming through your doors. The internet can be leveraged for everything from carryout to e-commerce and everything in between, but it needs to be done so strategically.
Local SEO encompasses a lot of different elements, including Google My Business, web page optimization, and keyword usage. Create great content that makes people want to talk about your brand so you can start to build up links and traffic to your site from social media users, bloggers, and other local companies. Dedicate certain pages on your website, like an About page and Services Area page that contains copy targeting the specific zip codes and local markets you serve.
2. Voice Search
Many people are using voice search these days. They’re talking into their phones or smart speakers before they even begin to pick up their tools and think about searching via text. This has changed the way search engines understand inquiries, and it means you have to adjust your content, too.
Optimize your content for rich answers that can be asked and answered fluidly, as though the person is speaking directly to you. Use long-tail keyword phrases and, again, make sure your site is able to be accessed via mobile. Optimize the load time of your site to ensure you don’t bore visitors and send them away before they even get a chance to learn more about your brand.
3. Paid Ads
Localized paid ads are a great way to get your logo in front of the people who will most likely already be looking for whatever it is that you offer. With today’s technology, you can optimize your website and social media presence in ways that take location information into account, making your paid ads even more useful because they’ll be seen by people plugging in the search words that pertain to your business.
When you optimize your website for local traffic and incorporate keywords that people in your community are most likely to search for, you’re giving yourself the best chance possible to stand out above your competition.
It’s vital to encourage your satisfied customers to review your business online, leaving high ratings or positive feedback. No matter where these reviews are—whether they’re on Yelp, Facebook, or elsewhere—reviews can really help bolster your marketing efforts. If you’re having trouble getting reviews, consider creating a promo or raffle whereby people who leave you positive reviews can be entered into a drawing to win a prize or discount from your store.
The way you respond to reviews is also important. You can’t just let them marinate in cyberspace; you need to address them (good and bad) in a timely manner. You should strive to respond to negative reviews asap. Be sure to be authentic and apply humility when you respond to reviews so people feel like their concerns or comments are being heard.
Social media and email marketing can work well for your small business as you try to gain visibility. The trick is to make sure you’re targeting people in your local community. Always include your location in your social media profiles and posts; this will help people get to know you when they start doing their local searches. Of course, it’s important to interact with followers, too. Don’t be afraid to share others’ posts when they’re relevant to your industry, and always comment back if someone left you feedback on social media or via email.
Request a Demo of the Surefire Local Marketing Platform
Run your marketing efforts on the industry’s most powerful local marketing platform. Surefire Local offers a next-generation software solution with a user-friendly interface that’s accessible anytime, across all devices and browsers. Contact us for your free demo today, and let us help you see how our platform can change the way you do business forever!