Are you a local business needing to be reaching local customers with a limited marketing budget? There are numerous local business digital marketing strategies to choose from and even more opportunities to waste your precious, limited budget.
Every penny counts, so where should you spend your digital marketing budget in 2017?
Before we get in to where to spend your budget, you must track everything that you can to compare the marketing performance of each channel.
“How did you hear about us?” just won’t cut it. Small businesses need hard evidence that their marketing budget is working hard. In digital, we’re spoiled with metrics we can use to measure relative performance and marketing ROI.
If your marketing objectives are to be reaching local customers to make them aware of your business, measuring the reach of Facebook, Twitter or other social media campaigns should be high on your list.
Reach is all well and good. The more local customers that know about your business or offer, the better. But how do you know that they are the right audience?
Engagement. Measure interaction with social posts; how many likes, comments or shares is an important metric to measure.
If your objectives are to drive traffic to your website, clicks from your campaigns are all-important and especially the CTR (click-through rate).
The CTR is an important metric which indicates that your offer or ad is relevant to the audience.
Measure and optimise for action
Wherever possible, measure actions like how many people:
- Filled out your contact form
- Called you [call tracking], [tap to call]
- Clicked to email you
- Downloaded your menu
- Purchased and how much did they spend
Measure qualitative metrics
Where there is no reliable, measurable action, compare the performance of different channels by measuring qualitative metrics using Google Analytics. This way you can find out things like:
- How many pages people visit on your website, on average
- How long people spend on your website, on average
Each and every one of these metrics can be measured and a value attributed to them.
With that “conversion” data and your cost for campaigns and clicks, you’ll be able to measure the all-important cost per conversion. This measures the value of each channel and campaign, making sure that your local marketing budget is spent wisely and produces maximum results.
Reaching a local audience in 2017
To drive real action, search marketing typically outperforms social media campaigns.
Search marketing works on a simple principle: customers find you right when they’re searching for what you do. They could be looking for a restaurant in your town, a solicitor with a particular specialism, or a wedding venue.
All of these customers and millions more every day are searching Google, Bing and Yahoo! for a solution to their problem.
The fastest way to attract high quality, highly motivated traffic to your website is Google AdWords.
There are three core opportunities for local businesses with Google AdWords:
- Local-friendly ad extensions like locations and phone calls
- Local keywords and fir locations
- Bid modifiers for local search ads
Google uses a number of signals to determine a user’s location: IP address, Google profile information, search history and others.
With location targeting, AdWords advertisers can bid on broader searches like ‘personal injury solicitors’ or ‘Indian restaurant’ without the location – only showing ads to users who match the location targeting.
The combination of a location targeted campaign and a search campaign is usually the most effective AdWords strategy for local businesses.
But there’s a new kid on the block for 2017; sponsored Map listing
Lastly, if you’re a retailer, local businesses can use Google Shopping ads, listing inventory of sofas, beds, sweets, fashion or any other items with local inventory.
It’s a little tougher to measure than a standard eCommerce store, as your paid-for clicks are more likely to generate in-store footfall than online purchases, but still well worth exploring.
Double up with Bing Ads
Pretty much everything you can do with Google AdWords can be done with Bing Ads too.
Expect less traffic than with the mighty Google, but if you’ve got AdWords working profitably, porting a well-optimised campaign over to Bing is now much easier than ever.
Remember that Bing Ads has its own conversion tracking, which we’d strongly recommend implementing to measure ROI.
A great tip for businesses needing a bigger budget than they can afford: start with Bing Ads first, prove the value of search marketing and then scale up with Google AdWords.
Targeting those local searches with a local SEO campaign is well worth considering.
While Google AdWords can attract high-intent local traffic immediately, you’ll pay for every click.
With organic listings, clicks are free. There’s a reasonable amount of investment in search engine optimisation though – expect 2-3 months of graft to start seeing some decent results and earning some local traffic.
Reach, awareness, interest and desire
Building a reputation and desire for your brand among a local audience has rarely been easier than it is in 2017.
Social media ads provide a low-cost opportunity to target hyper-local audiences according to their interests and demographics.
Remember though, social media ads are great for growing awareness and gaining interest in your brand, your event or your product, but they’re rarely as effective as search marketing for driving action (sales).
Absolutely, run promotions, give away vouchers, engage your audience in competitions, but interrupting people and expecting them to buy is rarely an effective strategy.
With just a few pounds per day, Facebook presents amazing opportunities for local businesses. You can:
- Promote an event – an open day, happy hour, special offer or special gig
- Promote your new menu, availability in your exercise class or tickets for your 10k run
- Drive traffic to your website to view your products or services
- Capture names, email addresses and phone numbers directly on Facebook
The outcome of Facebook campaigns is often an increase in customers searching for your brand. To maximise that, it’s critical that you’re ranked high organically or have a Google AdWords local campaign set up to capture that traffic when they’re ready to buy.
Twitter local campaigns
Twitter has a huge user base and some neat targeting opportunities for reaching local customers. You can target users who are:
- Followers of celebrities or local attractions
- In specific postcode areas
- Tweeting using your target keywords
- According to interest categories
Like Facebook, remember that you’re interrupting people – don’t expect them to click and buy from your site. This strategy is about awareness and interest rather than direct action.
Hit Twitter up with promotions and fun contests, facts, invitations to events or promo codes.
Drive traffic to your website to view products and services or simply engage users and build relationships on Twitter to grow your brand.
In my opinion, probably the greatest bang-for-buck brand strategies in digital marketing.
Most platforms now offer a remarketing or retargeting function.
Retargeting allows you to build an audience of visitors to your website, or even to specific sections of it.
Once you have a healthy audience, you’re able to target those users with ads, Facebook posts, tweets, banner ads using Google AdWords or even protection your video content on YouTube.
The strategy is pretty simple: these are potential customers who have visited your website. Remarketing activity work to keep your brand front of mind for the users, increasing trust in your brand, returning traffic to your website and more footfall in your business.
In 2017, the opportunities are many and varied for local businesses. My advice:
- Pick one platform to increase awareness, reach and desire. Measure it, optimise it and prove it before attempting a second.
- Back that up with a local search campaign using Google AdWords. Your brand campaign will create search traffic looking for your business – make sure you can be found!
- Consider a longer term investment in local SEO, but be warned, this is not a quick win and will need ongoing investment of time and/or money.
- Make sure it is clear on your website where your business is. Maps and visuals using local landmarks can help with this.
- Measure as much as you can, optimise and continue to improve ROI.