Local businesses such as restaurants, beauty salons, pet shops, and grocery stores are the lifeblood of any town and city. Unfortunately due to the nature or restrictions of the business or the location in which they are based, many owners or marketing managers may feel limited in how they can go about promoting themselves online.
“How does digital marketing apply to my business?” you might be asking. Coming up with new and innovative ideas can be incredibly hard, but the truth is digital marketing presents opportunities for businesses of nearly every size and in every sector. What we have for you are some top tips and local digital marketing ideas that will boost brand awareness, build reputation and increase the number of walk-in visitors to your business.
To implement so many ideas, be assured that you will need many digital tools to help you organize the work of your marketing team, which may include project management tools, Employee Time Tracking software, employee retention tools, etc.
In addition to tools, you also need new approaches such as giving staff recognition awards to engage your local business team for motivating and making your work environment more interesting.
1. Local SEO
Have you ever searched for ‘barbers near me’ or ‘furniture shop in XX’? Yes? The top websites that are displayed in the search results will have focused a lot of their efforts in local SEO. This is a strategy that helps your business become more visible in local search results on Google. Any business that has a physical location or serves a specific geographical area can benefit.
Over 75% of the discussed ‘near me’ searches result in an offline store visit, so there’s a tremendous opportunity here to increase footfall. There is so much that is covered under the umbrella of local SEO which we will go into, but make sure you visit our ultimate guide.
Google Business Profile
For those serious about improving their local SEO, Google Business Profile is a must-use, free tool. With a recent name change you may be more familiar with the term ‘Google My Business’.
The tool enables users to showcase their listing on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Share your all-important information such as address, contact details, opening hours, business services and so much more. A fully optimised business listing will give you a better chance of ranking in the local pack – a strong position on the first SERP and in Google Maps.
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If you’re a local business that serves in multiple areas, you may consider creating individual landing pages on your site for each location. When going to events or networking in local areas, share the news on your website – a further opportunity to include the all-important location information. A more technical aspect of local SEO is to ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
A citation is any online mention of your business which displays your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). It’s important that this information is correct and consistent across all listings. Any inconsistencies not only breed mistrust, but will also hamper your local visibility.
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2. Ensure website is mobile friendly
Mobile searches are a huge part of the online search make-up – with nearly two thirds of queries being attributed to handheld tech. Since the middle of 2019, mobile-first indexing has been the default for all new websites. This means Google will predominantly use this version of the site instead of the desktop version when it comes to determining search positions in the SERPs. It’s crucial that your website is mobile friendly not only to benefit your ability to rank well, but also to improve your site’s user experience. So you need to think ‘mobile first’ when it comes to design, but what does this mean?
- Images don’t stretch too far off the screen
- Site copy is a good size for anyone to read
- Buttons are easy to click
Google has a great tool, the Mobile-Friendly Test, which shows you how easily a visitor can use your site on a mobile device.
3. Social media
With social media, there has never been an easier way to connect with your target audience. In building a substantial following, you are able to communicate with a large number of people – potential customers. While people don’t make purchases on Facebook, there is so much scope when it comes to creating relationships and building local awareness. Here’s just a few local digital marketing ideas you can try as a part of your social media marketing plan:
Use local hashtags
When it comes to this you can go along the lines of phrases such as #localbusiness or #supportlocal. But tap into area hashtags, for example if you’re a Portsmouth-based restaurant you could look at #portsmouthfood, #portsmouthrestaurants, #portsmoutheats and so on.
When you post, make sure you’re tagging your location. It makes it easier to connect with those in your area and lets your audience know where you are. Firmly put your business on the map with location tags.
People love the opportunity to win something – most people will jump on the chance to get some free stuff! There are a myriad of contests you can go for. ‘Like, Comment, Share’, ‘Share a photo’ or ‘Tag a friend’ are the default for most businesses, but also think outside the box. It’s a chance to be creative, boost engagement, and raise local awareness.
Video content is among the most digestible around and gives you the opportunity to share the best of your business. The optimal video length on Facebook can be anywhere from 15 seconds to three minutes, but for Instagram you’re looking at less than 60 seconds. This is the time you have to capture your audience’s attention and showcase what you’re about and what benefits you bring.
Moreover, leaders can consider leadership development programs to enhance management skills. And to go to the next level with successful communication, leaders take conflict resolution training to upgrade their knowledge.
4. Paid advertising
As a local business, it’s understandable that you may not want to loosen the purse strings on paid advertising over more organic means of raising awareness. However, platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads have come leaps and bounds in terms of cost-effectiveness and geo-targeting.
You’re in complete control of what you do when it comes to paid advertising. You can:
- Set a limit on how much you’re willing to spend.
- Write and optimise your online ad copy in line with your brand and search terms you wish to target.
- Determine the location in which your advert is displayed. Based in Portsmouth? Look at setting a target radius around the city.
- Target key demographics including; age range, gender, household income, parental status. Facebook even extends to education levels, job titles, relationship statuses, interests and hobbies!
If you need help in running your paid advertising campaigns, get in touch with an expert PPC agency.
Earlier, I briefly mentioned the concept ‘social proof’, which stems from how we look to others for influence. Receiving endorsements from local (or even nationwide) influencers can go a long way in building this social proof. There are two tactics you can adopt when it comes to this.
- Maximise reach. Exactly what it says. Contact someone with a large following and influence and see if you can receive an endorsement of your business. Of course, someone with a larger follower count is less accessible, will probably cost you more and is not overly authentic.
- Go niche. As a local business this is perhaps the more favourable solution. These individuals will tend to be more receptive to a collaboration or endorsement. In every area there will be individuals with a higher degree of local influence. As a local restaurant, you may look to approach someone with a strong foodie following – a better means of engaging with the community and building that all important trust.
Email marketing has seemingly been around since the dawn of time – and it’s never truly gone away. It has the potential to incentivise individuals to visit, reward loyal customers and humanise your business. Demonstrate your commitment to the community by sharing local relevant news. Drive in-person visits by promoting special deals or discounts. Create localised blog content on your website and share through email. For example, a Portsmouth-based hotel could write an ‘Ultimate Guide For Places to Visit in Portsmouth’.
Always make sure your subject lines are short and sweet. Sell your email with a maximise of five words – anything beyond this and your email will likely be stuck in the limbo of the recipient’s inbox or, worse yet, the bin.
7. Refer us to a friend?
You can’t talk about local digital marketing ideas without covering referral campaigns! Encourage repeat business while lurring in new customers. As previously mentioned, people love free stuff. Referral programs and incentives have been proven to generate new business and raise awareness. Although the majority of people are likely to consult online reviews, they are far more likely to trust the recommendation of a friend over that of a complete stranger.
It’s important to keep it simple; make it as easy as possible for people to refer others to your business. The rewards must be clear, and the call to action must be obvious. Any overcomplications will make anyone else less likely to refer to you.
8. Local community engagement
Engaging with the community is a proven way of building brand awareness and improving trust for local businesses. Working with charities and industry associations goes a long way in boosting your reputation in the area. They also present tremendous PR opportunities for you to share on your website and social media. Local media publications often pick up news stories from businesses in the area, generating further links to your website – building more authority!
Local digital marketing ideas for every business
I’ll touch on what I said at the start. Digital marketing presents tremendous growth opportunities for any business, large or small, and no matter what sector they operate in. Whether you’re looking to fill appointment books for your barbers, get bums on seats in your restaurant or have people visit your shop, the local digital marketing ideas outlined in this blog have proven results.
As a digital marketing agency, we’ve had success time and time again in helping businesses of all shapes and sizes grow and promote their product or service. Whether you’re looking to boost your organic rankings, get help with your paid advertising or improve the quality of your website, we can help you. So get in contact to see how we can promote your business online!