Local Online Marketing Made Easy
Until as recently as just a few years ago, online marketing and local marketing were almost entirely separate topics. You could look for buyers in your area on Google or Facebook, but it was just as efficient to use mailers, billboard ads, and print directories if you wanted bottom-line results.
All of that has changed, though. Certainly, there are some traditional marketing techniques that still work. With the Yellow Pages losing its relevance, however, along with Google prioritizing geography within its search results and Facebook giving local advertising options that are easy and affordable, no business can afford to ignore the web. Companies that want local buyers are especially dependent on the internet now.
This is causing some business owners and executives a bit of stress. They are understandably reluctant to take on an entirely new marketing medium, especially when old techniques and channels worked so well for so long.
The good news is that local online marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, with just a little bit of time, money, and effort, you can find great customers throughout your city or neighborhood. To show you just how simple things can be, today we’re going to break down the major elements of a profitable local online marketing campaign one-by-one…
It All Starts With Your Business Website
Your website should be the hub of your local online marketing efforts. It can see more people than you can, explain your products and services more succinctly than a salesperson, and develop leads, appointments, and online sales 24 hours a day.
For all of that to happen, you need your site to make it clear exactly who you are, what you do, and (most importantly for your local online marketing campaigns) where you are and which areas are communities you serve. That way, buyers can see what you’re all about, and search engines can decipher your geography easily.
If you don’t have a great website, or one that’s optimized for local marketing, then you should try to correct that oversight immediately. All the great things that can happen as a result of promoting your business to local customers on the web start with having a professional layout and the right content.
Local SEO Gives You a Home Field Advantage
You probably already know that Google handles search requests by using automated software to “read” individual webpages. Specifically, it looks for keywords and search terms that come up again and again so a business or website can be matched with individual searchers.
What you might not be aware of is that Google places a heavy emphasis on geography within its individualized search rankings. The closer you are to a potential customer who uses Google’s search bar or app, the more likely you are to show up in their search listings.
However, Google can only pair you up with buyers if it understands your geographic location. That’s why you have to use the content on your website to include things like a state, city name, neighborhood, and other location indicators and important places. Try to be specific. There’s a big difference, from a search visibility perspective, between “web design” and “Houston business web design.”
Making the Most of Industry Guides
In most industries there are websites that list reputable vendors, or members of a professional organization. In the past, these were valuable sources of links to a business website. Now, though, many web designers and business owners tend to overlook these because those links no longer have much search engine optimization value.
However, these industry guides can still be an important part of your local online marketing effort. That’s because Google crawls the listings and use what it finds – and in particular, details like company names, phone numbers, and addresses – to corroborate information it has from other sources. So, if everything matches, your business (or in some cases the closest of multiple locations) is more likely to appear in a local search result.
You can update these types of listings one-by-one or use inexpensive automated tools to ensure all your company profiles are consistent. Either way, know that this is important detail that’s easy to overlook.
Sharpening Your Local Reviews
According to a survey recently done by Forbes magazine, nearly 90% of buyers will go online to read reviews from other customers before they ever pick up the phone, stop by, or spend a dollar. That means the feedback you have on Yelp and similar websites can make a huge impact in your ability to win new customers.
Knowing that, smart business owners should make sure their company profiles are up to date. In fact, you can use the same type of software we’ve already mentioned to manage your various profiles. Then, you should encourage your best customers to say good things about you online and respond to the reviews you get on any website.
Local customers are particularly likely to share feedback with friends and neighbors, and to respond to reviews they see from others in their community. So, if you want to maximize your local marketing potential, make sure you’ve got plenty of great reviews coming in every month.
Finding Customers Through Social Media
There are a lot of ways to use Facebook and other social media sites to boost business within your city or neighborhood. One of the easiest is to simply post images of your company, customers, or community.
Additionally, if you have a well-defined market (in terms of age range, interest, demographics, etc.) you can use social advertising tools to spread marketing messages to users within your city for a few dollars a day. You can restrict ads to certain times and zip codes, or only have them seen by your existing fans. That’s a great way to promote an event or share a coupon that can be used for instant sales.
It’s also worth remembering that a strong social presence for your business attracts followers who can pass on referrals to their own friends or neighbors. That’s why social media marketing as a norm is potential for any local business that’s popular.
Using Cost-Effective PPC for Local Marketing
In the same way you can use social ads to focus in on a very specific group of buyers within a community, you can use account or campaign controls on Google or Bing to do the same. That way, if you want search engine users who are only located within a certain area to see your ads, you can show your messages to them without wasting money on a larger campaign.
PPC internet advertising is all about efficiency, so breaking your ads down by geography is a good way to save cash and boost results. Plus, researchers or prospects who click through to your website and find that you are close by aren’t just more likely to become leads or customers – they are also more likely to continue doing business with you for years to come.
Advertising to local customers through search engines requires very little in terms of set up time and can be a fast and efficient source of new business.
Adding Finishing Touches to Your Local Online Marketing Campaign
There are a lot of little “extras” that can make your local online marketing more effective. None of them will make a big difference if you aren’t covering the basics, but you can use them to boost results in lots of small but measurable ways.
For example, improving your signage or storefront gives you better profile pictures to use and encourages people to stop in while also making your company easier to find. Emphasizing the friendliness of your staff on social media and local review sites can help with walk-in visits or convince people to call over the phone with their questions. Spreading coupons through email or social pages can also lead to more foot traffic.
The point to be made here is that expanding your region generating sales opportunities is just the first step. Whatever you can do – online or off – to turn that interest into real revenue just makes everything else better.
Need Help With Local Online Marketing in Houston?
At WebWize, we have decades of experience helping small businesses, nonprofits, and even institutions with web design and online marketing in all of its forms. If you need a creative partner who can turn your budget into real-world results, contact us today to set up free consultation and see how we can help.
About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.