Beginner Guide to Local Internet Marketing
There is growing emphasis on local internet marketing. The rise in Google Maps, Google My Business and similar networking platforms have promoted local internet marketing as a great tool for in-person businesses that want to get more traffic into their physical store or office locations. Effective use of local internet marketing can build business reputation, trust and customer confidence. The lessons from local internet marketing can also be applied in growing the larger online business with a wider or global audience and targeting customers from different locations globally.
In this post, we consider a strategic approach to building your physical local business through local online marketing. This will complement your efforts at business growth within your locations, expand your reach and guide you on an alternative and sustainable strategy to increase sales and clientele for your local business.
What Is Local Internet Marketing?
Local internet marketing is a strategy for targeting content to people within a specific location, town, community, neighborhood, or area. It is sometimes called local online marketing, location marketing, location-based marketing, local store marketing, and neighborhood marketing.
It is a technique deployed through online advertisements, digital media platforms, content marketing and emails. The emphasis is on people within a particular location which usually will be where an actual physical store or business place is located or a primary target that suits a business classification. It works well for businesses with brick-and-mortar locations and can drive good traffic to such businesses. Local internet marketing can be very suitable for businesses like:
- Barber Shops
- Car dealerships
- Catering services
- Construction companies
- Dentists and orthodontists
- Dry cleaners
- Hair salons
- Hardware stores
- Heating and cooling specialists
- Ice cream shops
- Lawn care companies
- Lawyers and law firms
- Nail salons
- Pest control services
- Realtors and real estate firms
- Recreation facilities
- Restaurants and bars
- Retail stores
- Roofing companies
- Tattoo parlors
- Wedding venues
For businesses like these, most searches will ask questions like "restaurants in downtown Chicago", "five star hotel in Ikeja" and "detox center in Abuja". These searches will direct the searcher to specific businesses and not just give a global result. Engaging local online marketing in these cases helps direct quality traffic to physical business locations and online stores where transactions can occur and relationships can be built. It can also be helpful in building brand recognition and reputation especially for real businesses with physical locations.
Local Online Marketing Platforms
Local online marketing uses both inbound and outbound marketing methods to reach customers. While Inbound marketing encourages people to come to your business place on their own, outbound marketing involves soliciting customer patronage through persuasive contacts like sending emails, engaging them through live chats and encouraging a telephone conversation by soliciting the consent of potential customers to fill an online form or fix an appointment.
Local internet marketing can work effectively with these platforms:
- Google Ads: This is the pay-per-click advertising (PPC) program by Google. Its creation and bidding services let you target local searchers and consumers.
- Google Maps: This is another service provided by Google. Its features let your business location appear as a point of interest on the map. It features the business contact information and directions to help people connect with your local business.
- Google My Business: This is a great platform provided by Google and used to display business information, contact details, hours of operations and when on holidays as well as some pertinent information like business description.
- Facebook: A leading social media platform. Apart from being able to create a profile on Facebook and post business information, you can also advertise on Facebook. Ratings and reviews on Facebook can also be useful in building trust and engendering a sale.
- Yelp, Angie’s List, and other related sites: Community-based sites and directories allow people to post reviews and ratings for local businesses and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
- Company website: This is your business website like the one you are reading from right now. It allows you to share your content with communities and groups you have built overtime.
- Snapchat: Social media app recently implemented a new “My Places” feature that uses information from TripAdvisor and user recommendations to promote local businesses and events.
- Instagram: Another social media outlet has location tagging features, shop options, and contact options on its business profiles to help you engage a local online community.
- Email: This option lets you send information directly to your local subscribers to share information, promotions, and other messages.
- Text messages: Similar to email, a text subscription list allows you to send important information and updates right to customer’s phones.
Developing a Local Online Marketing Strategy
Strategy development is influenced by a lot of factors which are both internal and external. The internal strategies will include available resources and personnel capabilities amongst others while the external strategies will include competitor strategies, the legislative framework and customer behaviour amongst others. Putting all these together you can build an online marketing strategy. Here are our recommended steps and considerations for an online local marketing strategy:
1. Understand Local SEO
This greatly affected local search intent. You need to build your business profile on local directories to increase your visibility based on user search behaviour and queries. When people search for city-specific information or add words like “near me” to their queries, this type of SEO becomes important. Your content development for local search should include:
- Searcher’s location
- Name, address, and phone number (NAP) citations for each business
- Existence of a Google My Business profile
- Keywords from the Google My Business profile
- Online reviews
- Keywords from online reviews
- Check-ins for a specific location
- Social media shares
- Google Maps ratings
Understanding how these factors affect search and harmonizing them with your content development will help you gather organic search results in your region.
Further reading: Best link building strategies recommended by industry experts
2. Update Your Google My Business Profile
Do not keep your Google My Business Profiles unupdated. After a while, update your profile to reflect your current business address, telephone numbers and other variables including opening hours and holidays. Keep helpful information for potential customers and the search engine up to date. It is important because giving out wrong information can affect your business reputation and erode public trust in your business. Ensure that all links are functional, especially your website address. social media links and any other relevant links you have posted. To control the information on the profile, you can claim your listing with Google. This feature can help you get more visibility in searches and make it easier for customers to interact with your company.
Further reading: How to Boost Your Website Ranking with Google My Business
3. Optimize Your Website
This is not as simple as the other factors we have discussed earlier. It is a very useful part of the online marketing project and when done right will reinforce your inbound and outbound marketing efforts. But more than that, good optimization can guarantee success for your business because it will affect your search engine ranking and can pull incredible traffic to your website.
Generally, work to improve your website speed, add relevant information to your contact us page including your contact information and directions to make it easier for customers to find you. Other important information to include on your site may be your hours, products or services offered, reviews, your coverage area, and parking information.
Do not neglect information like phone numbers, fax numbers, social media profiles, email addresses, and possibly add an online contact form. You should optimize your entire website for mobile viewing so people can access it on any device and make sure your navigation elements are good for easy accessibility of your internal pages.
Don't forget to check the crawlability of your websites. Be sure that your robots.txt file is not blocking relevant sections of your website from being crawled. If Google cannot crawl your website, then people cannot find you.
Further reading: A detailed guide to web page optimization for better ranking
4. Create Local Content
Content is king and the search engines rank with content. You can consider related content that makes your website an authority on community issues.
Writing on topics like holiday shopping in local communities, hotels and other relevant shopping information can direct a lot of traffic to your website.
5. Promote Customer Reviews
Promoting reviews from customers especially when they have had some good experience can very well help your local business. Customer reviews is one immediate source people turn to for information from customers who have dealt with your company.
6. Embrace Email Marketing
Email marketing is still a valuable tool to promote content and grow your business. You will however grow relevant subscribers and avoid spamming.
7. Focus on Your PPC Advertising
Although pay-per-click advertising can be expensive, it is a useful way to target your advertising to relevant groups and achieve positive results. Google adwords is king in this respect and worth investing in.
8. Run Targeted Ads
Try to use other online ad programs to target users. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are good for these purposes.
9. Localize Social Media
Most companies use social media for worldwide advertising, but you can localize it too. If you want to target nearby users, consider:
- Setting a location in your business profile
- Tagging locations in all of your posts
- Using local hashtags
- Sharing your locally created content
- Taking part in local events and sharing photos and videos
- Hosting contests with prizes for locals
- Sharing content from other local businesses and personalities
- Working with local influencers
- Joining community groups, sharing information, and interacting with other users
Further reading: Harnessing the Power of Social Media Marketing in Business Growth
10. Refine Your Strategies
Constantly monitor your results relative to your investments to be sure your endeavours are worthwhile. You will have to make some refinements where significant deviations occur.
Tips to Boost Local Online Marketing
These clues will help improve your local online marketing efforts:
1. Create Landing Pages
It’s a good idea to make separate landing pages for every campaign you launch. Directing people to a particular page for every campaign may not be a very good idea especially when the campaign is making an offer which traditional home pages will not accommodate. Each landing page should be as specific and targeted as possible. This can lead to more audience engagement and conversions.
2. Create “Call-Only” Ads
Many people feel really comfortable speaking to real people. Creating a “Call-only” campaign can suit such groups and increase conversion. You can measure the performance of such a campaign and determine its effectiveness. Platforms like Facebook and Google Ads can be very effective for these kinds of campaigns.
Businesses like restaurants, hotels, salons, and repair shops can benefit immensely from these kinds of campaigns.
3. Include Ad Extensions
Google Ads offers features and formats that can improve visibility, including Ad Extensions. Two of the most popular ones include:
- Display location extensions: This feature lets you display your business location as part of your PPC ad.
- Promotion extensions: This feature allows you to add time-sensitive offers to your PPC ads.
Emphasize Time-Sensitive Offers
Ad extensions notwithstanding, you can use persuasive writing and time-sensitive words and phrases like “act now” or “while supplies last” to encourage people to click.
Try Local Search Ads
Local Search Ads are part of Google Maps that allow you to put an ad directly in the search listings on the web or through the app.
Engage in Cross-Promotion
Cross-promotion is when two non-competitive businesses work together to expand their reach and audience. You can collaborate with other local community businesses and organizations to get additional exposure and access a new client base.
Promote Your Company Offline
This can be in the form of including your website address, email address, or social media handles on all your print materials, such as T-shirts, signs, flyers, and billboards. This allows you to create more brand awareness and reinforce your online campaigns. Ensure that all information supplied is consistent with those you have placed on online platforms.
The internet is a very competitive market place. Carving out a niche can reduce the scope of competition and strengthen your marketing efforts through actionable tips that boost your local dominance within specialized markets.
Online local marketing is one way to grow your brand and not be stifled by global big brands. You can take advantage of local marketing to increase your brand awareness and launch a successful brand.