Finding Success with Your Local Marketing Strategy
Developing a well-balanced, holistic local marketing strategy is key for local businesses to be able to compete with large, national brands.
A local marketing strategy includes your website, business listings, online reviews, social media, paid advertising, content, email marketing, as well as offline tactics. It’s a plan which allows you to best utilize each of these channels to promote your business. Designing multiple touchpoints along the customer journey to encourage members of your community to visit your store location or website, have you come out for a service call, or buy directly from your site.
To effectively manage a local marketing strategy for your small business, you need to leverage artificial intelligence and marketing automation tools. Otherwise, you’ll never have time to complete all the required marketing tasks in addition to all of your other responsibilities as a business owner.
Your marketing plan also needs to include proper lead tracking and nurture flows. This is the only way you’ll be able to collect accurate data to tell you what’s working and what’s not. Otherwise, your strategy will remain unoptimized, where you use ineffective tactics that waste time and money.
50 Local Marketing Ideas to Try in 2020
Working with our local marketing experts, we’ve compiled fifty local marketing ideas that you can use to help further improve your marketing strategy in 2020.
This is a long list, so we’ve broken it up into specific marketing topics to make it easy for you to jump directly to the section you want:
- Marketing Strategy
- Brand Awareness
- Online Advertising
- Content Marketing
- Reputation Management
- Business Listings
- Website & Local SEO
- Lead Generation
- Lead Tracking
Marketing Strategy Ideas
Marketing is about finding and connecting with your ideal customer. Developing a comprehensive marketing strategy helps you understand your target audience and connect with them in a way that makes your business stand out from the competition. Here are some ideas for ways to optimize your marketing performance.
Update or create a local marketing strategy for your business — Research shows that a majority of business still takes place within 15 minutes of a person’s job or home. For instance, of the people who search for local businesses, 72 percent end up visiting stores within five miles. This means that, as a small business, you don’t need to compete with big brands on the national level. Rather, you want your marketing strategy to focus on engaging with people on this local scale.
Create buyer personas — Buyer personas help you understand your target customers better, their specific needs, behaviors, and concerns. It’s key for tailoring your content, messaging, product development, and services to different groups. Build your buyer personas by researching a mix of customers, current leads, and people who align with your target audience. For instance, if you’re a window replacement company, consider people interested in home remodeling.
Define your company’s value proposition — This is the primary reason why a prospect should buy from you. It’s the value you’re promising customers that you’ll deliver. A value proposition should clearly explain how your product or service solves their problem, what specific benefits they’ll receive, and why they should select you and not a competitor.
Define your company’s key differentiators — Articulate the unique capabilities you offer your customers that your competitors don’t provide, to help increase sales opportunities. Don’t only focus on your products and services. Differentiation includes everyday business practices that help you better serve your customers over competitors.
Create an editorial calendar for your blog and social media content — This will allow you to effectively run your marketing strategy, ensuring that you’re publishing the right content at the right time. Marketing automation software, such as the Surefire Local Marketing Platform, allows you to create and schedule content from a single place — all you have to do is set the time, and the platform makes sure your content gets published.
Elevate your marketing by using local marketing software to manage your online presence — Instead of building a piecemeal network of tools, consolidate and automate the management of your local marketing strategy using an all-in-one local marketing platform.
Infuse insights from your customer data to direct your marketing messages — The power of digital marketing is that you’re able to gather data about how people are navigating through your customer journey, and what is and isn’t working. Put this data to work to optimize your marketing strategy.
Optimize your online presence for voice search — Use natural-sounding language to provide concise answers to questions. Think about user intent, research and incorporate long-tail keywords, and focus on action-oriented queries.
Check in to see what the competition is doing — Use competitor research tools to understand how competitors are engaging with potential leads in your area. For instance, how they’re ranking in local searches, what social media channels they’re on, what type of ad extensions and promotions they’re using in paid advertising, etc.
Brand Awareness Ideas
To become a prospective customer, people need to know that you’re a local business in their community. They need to be familiar with your brand, what you do and who you are so that you come to mind when they require your services. Here are some ways you can increase brand awareness throughout your community.
Attend an industry trade show — Trade shows are great ways to meet other business owners and potential customers. Attend relevant local events, such as industry-related MeetUp.com groups, or city-wide shows. Also, search for larger regional events for your industry.
Join your local chamber of commerce — Your local chamber of commerce is a great network that focuses on furthering the interests of local businesses. In addition to getting you on the local business listing, they’ll host events and share updates about local developments that could affect your business. For instance, changing laws or infrastructure projects like long-term road construction in your neighborhood.
Sponsor a local youth sports team — Sponsoring a local sports team puts your business on the radars of all people who are involved with the organization. This includes family members, other community sponsors, and other teams in the area.
Cross-promote your services with other local businesses in the area — Think about partnerships in your local market and offer to hand out flyers or cards for them at your location. They will return the favor. Doing so helps you build professional connections and reach new audience segments.
Host a customer celebration party — Show your customers that you appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant event. For example, you could host all-day doughnuts and coffee or an afternoon BBQ. Try to do it annually so people can expect and look forward to attending it every year.
Sponsor a charity event for a local cause — Your local marketing strategy depends on letting people know that your business is part of their community. One way to build this connection is to help organize or sponsor a charitable event for a local cause. Community members will respond by patronizing your business.
Engage your employees to build brand awareness — Provide them with opportunities to volunteer at community celebrations or attend professional networking events. Make sure they have branded business cards and know how to pitch their work at your business whenever someone asks them “What do you do?”
Apply for business awards — Getting a business award under your belt is a great way to build credibility and generate positive PR. It tells customers that you’ve been vetted by a third party and are the winning choice! There are a wide variety of award programs you can enter, ranging from free to costing thousands of dollars. Research which ones make sense for your business and will mean the most to your target audience.
Online Advertising Ideas
In addition to more organic marketing tactics, also considering paid online advertising. Paid advertising platforms help you reach customers who are looking for your products and services at the exact moment that they’re searching. Moreover, they include a host of tools to help create and provide valuable insights about your campaign. With a good pay-per-click strategy, you can control when, where, and to whom your ads show for optimal campaign performance.
Advertise on Google, Bing, Yelp, and Facebook — Pay-per-click ads can drive immediate results for your business. Search engine and social media platforms provide a host of different ad formats and targeting methods to reach potential customers in your local area specifically. Make sure that you’re taking advantage of features like ad extensions and specialized formats like Local Service Ads (if applicable to your business) to maximize your ad’s screen real-estate. Also include geographic keywords, such as the name of your city, to make your ad copy pop out and catch the customer’s attention in search results.
Leverage remarketing to remain top of mind — To convert someone, conventional marketing wisdom maintains that you need at least 11 interactions with the customer before they’ll convert to your business (this number is even higher for B2B). Remarketing is a great way to ensure that you get these connections. It uses a small code snippet that allows your ads to “follow” people who visit your website, even if they don’t complete the desired action during their initial visit. With remarketing, prospective customers will see your ads at different points along their purchase journey (on social, during searches, while watching videos, etc), to continue building brand awareness until they’re ready to become a lead.
Content Marketing Ideas
A content strategy helps you provide useful or entertaining content at the right time, on the right channel, to attract people to your business. Look for the intersection between what your customers want or need and what you want to communicate as a business (i.e. your areas of expertise). The topics where these two requirements overlap are the topics that you want to cover at regular intervals throughout the year — your content pillars. Content comes in many forms, including text messages, blog posts, email newsletters, images, and videos, so think about it in the context of your customer journey. This will help you produce the different types of content that you need for different touchpoints.
Post an offer on your business listings — Posting an offer, such as a discount or limited time special, will help attract followers to your business. Either by enticing them to call directly from the listing or to click through to your website or landing page to fill out a form.
Add photos to your business listings — There are several types of photos you can add to your business listing. For instance, a logo will help with brand recognition, while cover photos can help catch attention. Also include high-quality images that highlight features of your business, such as products or before & after images, that customers can look at to help make a purchase decision.
Publish a new blog article on your website — Connect with current and potential customers by posting helpful, timely, well-written content. For example, how-to articles, relevant industry news, updates on outreach you’re doing in your local community, etc. One study found that small businesses that blog see 126% more lead growth than the businesses that don’t. Make sure that you include relevant images and establish a consistent schedule for posting new content. In addition to helping you connect with people, blogging also helps with SEO performance, where websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages than websites without blogs. Figure out which keywords, topics, and categories you want to rank for and write and post new content around those themes.
Record a video about your business story and upload it to YouTube — YouTube is an extremely popular search engine. And with the ability to shoot videos on your smartphone, making YouTube videos is a great, cost-effective marketing idea for small businesses. Create short-but-sweet videos that explain what your business does and how you serve your local community. You can also make how-to videos that help catch the attention of your potential customers.
Send out a customer satisfaction survey — A customer satisfaction survey is a great way to learn about your customer base and to remind them that you exist. Customers will appreciate that you asked for their opinion and will be invested in checking out future content where you unveil the survey results.
Optimize your images and videos for visual search — Use good quality visual content to showcase your services and products. Tag content with relevant keywords and include concise descriptions to make it easy for users and search engine crawlers to understand what the image or video is about.
Interview a customer in a video — Requesting local customers to participate in a video is a great way to build a community presence and capitalize on social proof. People will recognize that this is a real member of their community, not a paid actor, and therefore more trustworthy. Also, members of the customer’s network are likely to share it out of local pride.
Start a weekly Facebook video series — Setting up a consistent posting time for your videos will help build an audience. You can create a series showing off progress on local projects you’re working on. You can do a regular Q&A series that answers common customer questions. Or to update people on local developments from the perspective of your business (and how it might affect your customers).
Reputation Management Ideas
Having a strong online reputation is key for small and local businesses to build social proof (which is a fancy way of saying people like to follow the crowd when they’re unsure about something). New customers are going to be unfamiliar with your business and will turn to third-party review sites like Google, Nextdoor, and Yelp to see what other people have to say.
Monitor your online reputation by setting up alerts — In BrightLocal’s most recent local consumer review survey, they found that 48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past 2 weeks and 84% believe that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant. Monitoring software helps you track your review flow, by alerting you to new reviews and helping you catch any lulls in review activity where you need to focus on asking more customers for feedback to keep things fresh.
Establish a process for getting more reviews — Reviews are critical for local business marketing. Make sure you have a process to generate reviews. For instance, use marketing software to regularly upload customer lists and automatically send feedback requests. Customers who give a positive response are prompted to leave a review. The system flags dissatisfied customers so that you and your team can address the issue – helping fix the problem before they leave an angry comment on a third-party platform. You can also use a remarketing ad to help remind customers to leave you a review.
Ask for online reviews — As part of your process for generating online reviews, you need to train your employees on how to effectively ask customers for reviews at the end of a job. Don’t offer incentives in exchange for reviews (doing so violates the sense of trust that reviews need to act as effective social proof). People respond to honesty, so simply make a respectful request, asking for feedback so you can understand what you’re doing well and what you need to work on.
Respond to reviews — According to the same BrightLocal survey, among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to reviews. This means it is vital that you have a review response plan to quickly and professionally answer both positive and negative comments. It demonstrates to other readers that you’re a responsive business that cares about input from your customers.
Business Listings Ideas
Accurate business listings are a key part of building local SEO. Here are some key listings and platforms you want to make sure you’re on to make your business easily discoverable in searches.
Claim your Google My Business listing — Consumers rely on Google to find businesses close to them. Claiming your free Google My Business (GMB) listing will help make sure your business shows up on Google Maps results as well as the local results section of Google Search. A joint study by Google and Oxera showed that businesses with a verified GMB listing were twice as likely to be viewed as reputable by consumers.
Optimize your Google My Business listing — At a minimum, your GMB profile should include up-to-date photos, accurate contact information, your business category, and your website URL. Flesh it out with a business description, a list of services offered, your service area, customer reviews, sharing content with Google Post, and more.
Claim your Yelp listing — Yelp is an extremely well-established third-party review site and is often one of the first places people will look for reviews about your business. For instance, how many times have you looked up a restaurant’s Yelp listing before deciding whether or not you eat there? Controlling your Yelp listing in an important role in making sure you’re visible when people are doing searches for local businesses.
Claim your Bing listing — While not as large a Google, Bing is still a popular search engine, generating 5.9 Billion monthly PC searches in the US alone. Moreover, 57% of Bing searchers use it for online product research. With this kind of traffic, you want to make sure your business is present on it. Similar to Google My Business, you’ll want to include current information, photos, your service list, etc. A major benefit of being on Bing is that there’s less competition, meaning your listing will stand out more.
Ensure your information across all business listings is accurate — Make sure your business information is consistent across all of your online directories and social media platforms. They should all display the same name, address, phone number, logo, etc. Search engines penalize inconsistent listings by lowering your SEO rankings, since discrepancies, two different addresses, can lead to user confusion.
Set up an appointment link in your GMB listing — This allows people searching for your business to directly book an appointment from your GBM profile. It removes a step in their journey, which encourages immediate conversions.
Claim your business profile on Nextdoor — Nextdoor can be a powerful tool for local businesses. Due to its stringent process for validating member identity and location, Nextdoor recommendations are highly trusted by users.
Website & Local SEO Ideas
Your website should be more than a digital billboard for your business. Rather, it’s a key component for providing good customer experience, where users can easily locate the information they need and contact you. Your website structure should also be optimized to appear in local search results.
Optimize your website with local schema and structured data — This helps search engines to better understand location-based structured information like addresses, dates of events, phone numbers, and other information. It’s how they know to display this information as answer boxes, image or video carousels, and other rich snippets. The end goal is to make search results more appealing and relevant to the user experience, so using a local scheme to structure your website will help you show up in SERP (search engine result pages).
Make your website HTTPS secure — HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) protects the integrity and confidentiality of data passing between the customer’s computer and your website. Increasingly, search engines are penalizing sites that don’t use HTTPS, where they refuse to show them due to information security concerns. Follow best practices to keep your website HTTPS certified so that you continue to rank well in search results.
A/B test your website’s homepage — This is a way to measure two versions of your homepage to see which is more successful. This A/B testing (also called split testing) you’re able to test different copy, images, layout, call-to-actions, etc to optimize your homepage to drive maximize results.
Set up Google Analytics tracking on your website — This free tool helps you understand how people are using your website and engaging with your content, so you know what’s working and what’s not. In addition to your website, you can connect Google Analytics with Google Ads and your Google My Business Listing to get a more comprehensive view of how people are finding your business in the Google digital ecosystem.
Add a chatbot / live chat functionality to your website — This will help increase customer engagement and convert more leads since you can chat or texting real-time with customers who visit your website — no matter if you’re in the office or out on the job. It’s also a great way to ensure you don’t miss out on leads who aren’t able to pick up the phone at just that moment but still want to connect.
Lead Generation Ideas
In addition to digital marketing tactics, there are several offline strategies you can employ on a local level to generate leads for your business. While they might seem a bit old-school, these marketing tactics can help make your brand visible to people in your area. They can also be particularly effective for networking with other businesses and connecting with the movers-and-shakers in your community.
Run a contest — A local contest is a fun and engaging way to get your name out in the community. An easy way to run a contest is to use a social media channel, such as Facebook. Another option could be partnering with a local radio station.
Develop a customer referral program — Word of mouth can go a long way in bringing you more local customers. Bolster your referral marketing by offering perks like discounts or free products to customers who refer their friends.
Pass out direct mail promos — Postcards are a cost-effective option. They’re cheaper to send than letters, you can also hand them out at local events, and leave them at the front counter of local establishments (with permission, of course).
Update your service vehicles’ branding — If you run a business that involves driving around town all the time, having a vehicle with your logo on it helps you get name-recognition in your local area. It’s an easy, cost-effective way to market your business.
Lead Tracking Ideas
To maximize the performance of your local marketing strategy, you can not simply accept incoming leads without knowing where they came from. Rather, you need to understand things like what it took to generate each lead to replicate results.
Revisit your marketing budget — Use performance metrics (more later) to determine if you should be dedicating more funding to your marketing strategy. Also, examine how each channel is contributing to your strategy and allocate your marketing budget accordingly.
Set up unique phone number tracking — This means that each of your marketing channels (paid advertising, your website, your social media profiles, etc) use a different phone number that forwards to your main business line. This lets you track exactly where each call is coming from, to gather valuable data about which marketing channels are driving calls.
Review your lead response time — You need to know how long it’s taking you or your staff to respond to leads. Leads won’t stick around for very long, waiting for you to get back to them. In fact, research shows that after one hour, the odds of successfully connecting with a lead decrease by over 10 times. Moreover, after the 20-hour mark, every additional attempt you make can actually hurt rather than help your ability to make contact to qualify a lead.
How to Measure the Success of Your Marketing Efforts
Measuring performance is vital to uncovering what marketing tactics don’t work in your area, and either fix them or avoid repeating mistakes. However, make sure that you don’t get distracted by vanity metrics. These are numbers that make you feel good (such as page “likes” on Facebook) but they don’t really tell you anything meaningful about your marketing performance.
Here are some key ways to properly track your marketing efforts to make sure you’re focusing on campaigns that result in sales.
Number of leads generated
Lead flow is the lifeblood of your business. Using marketing software to identify which kinds of leads are most valuable for your business and tracking them correctly. This helps you understand lead flow in relation to your marketing activity. Is an existing tactic no longer generating as many leads? It might be time to update it. Is a new campaign driving a big influx of new leads? Find ways to replicate it.
Lead response time
By measuring your lead response time, you’ll be able to identify issues — such as your call answering service isn’t relaying messages fast enough or website form notifications are getting caught up in your spam filter — to improve performance. Remember, you have 24 hours at most to respond before a lead moves on. And the faster your lead response time, the better.
Cost Per Lead (CPL)
Identifying the Cost Per Lead for each channel will help you keep an eye on your marketing budget and balance your strategy. It helps answer the question: “is this marketing channel generating new customers in a cost-efficient manner?” You can calculate your CPL by dividing your marketing spend on the platform by the total number of new leads it generated.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
This is the average amount of money your customers will spend on your business over the entire life of your relationship. It’s an especially important metric for customer-service focused businesses (such as restaurants or home service providers). When you’re making a good impression, customers will continue to use your business, resulting in an increased lifetime value. If your CLV starts dropping, you know something is wrong and can investigate.
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
This is one of the most important metrics to keep track of if you run a subscription or SaaS (software as a service) business. In this business model, you have recurring revenue instead of one-off sales. Your MRR is all of your recurring revenue (typically excluding one-time and variable fees) normalized into a monthly amount.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Your ROI shows how your marketing efforts impact your revenue. ROI can be a bit tricky to calculate since marketing isn’t a single tactic. Rather, it’s a person’s overall experience with your brand over time that wins you a customer. You need to measure the incremental financial value gained as a result of your marketing in comparison to your marketing costs, taking both short and long-term results into account since the money you spend today might not bring a return until months later.
Time to Conversion
This metric measures the effectiveness of your conversion process, answering the question of how long it takes to transform leads into sales. In addition to knowing how long it takes for someone to make the final, grand conversion, you want to understand how long it takes for people to work through each micro-conversion in your purchase journey. For instance, how long it takes to subscribe to a newsletter or click on your ad. This helps you identify any problem areas and smooth out your purchase path so potential customers experience no friction to deter them from converting.
Make Online Marketing Easy with Local Marketing Software
The Surefire Local Marketing Platform makes it easy to take control of your online presence. With it, you can use all the local marketing ideas we’ve discussed to develop and execute an effective, hyper-local digital marketing strategy – all from one place!
We’ve been in operation since 2011 and have earned the distinction of being both a Google and Yext Marketing Partner. Our innovative software has been implemented by over 3,000 small businesses across North America.
With our all-in-one platform, you have all the tools and features you need to build your local SEO, manage your online reviews, track leads, communicate with customers, and more. You’ll never have to worry about wasting money on a marketing agency again since you’ll have full visibility into which marketing channels and tactics are driving business.
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