It doesn’t take a search marketeer to understand why local marketing is one of the most effective ways to increase your business sales. As consumers we intuitively realise that for some purchases you need to look for a local retailer to fulfil your needs or wants. For example, if you want to buy something and have it today, have the comfort that if something is wrong that the retailer is accessible, or by the time you have travelled or paid for shipping you could buy cheaper locally, then we automatically choose to shop local.
Since it was created the internet (and digital marketing) has been ‘sold’ as a means to position your business in the global marketplace, but ironically it probably offers the most effective marketing platform for businesses to sell locally. Here is our 5 step guide to making your digital marketing work on a local level.
1. Local Information Sources
Local information sources are one of the first uses that many people make of the internet, whether it’s to find out where they can go shopping for a particular product or service, to find out about things that are happening in their local area or simply to keep up to date with local news.
There has been a gradual but consistent move from traditional media, newspapers and yellow pages, to their online equivalents such as Google maps (which also impact searches, including mobile), local business directories, review and community websites. All of these provide a means for consumers to find information from trusted sources and as such they should be the first stop for building a local internet presence for your business. Many of these services provide a free listing or mention however, some may require you to provide something ‘newsworthy’. However, depending on the type of marketing that works best for your business, in some cases paid for adverts may be a worthwhile approach, often a trial will answer that question for you.
Make sure that in all the above you accurately reference your business name, address and telephone number and provide clear information about local facilities, access and key business information such opening hours (including bank holidays), product ranges and if possible availability. Target items you are likely to be the only local provider, or a cheaper or more convenient source of for local people.
2. Local Search Marketing
Local search marketing, a speciality of e-mphasis, is a very undervalued and under-utilised marketing tool. Often, once put in place, it can pay your business back many times over. The starting point for some businesses is their choice of domain, with many realising that including their location in their domain choice can be a quick way to influence search engines e.g. furniturelondon.co.uk.
You may need expert assistance for the next step which is local search optimisation for your website, especially meta tags and page URLs (the address of the web page), building an effective link strategy, setting up and maintaining local landing pages, and remembering to feature location in other media such as video and image names.
3. Local Email Marketing
Often neglected in digital marketing is the power of email marketing. Our recommendation is to keep a local email database, separate from your ‘general’ mailing list, to achieve this you need to make sure that you capture at least the postcode of potential or existing clients.
When mailing to this targeted list make sure that you focus on local knowledge, events and culture, feature local landmarks and celebrities. Offer exclusive invites to events and previews to new product launches or perhaps push loyalty schemes or even partnerships with other local businesses or organisations.
4. Local Social Marketing
When setting up social media accounts for your business always include your location in profiles. Once set up businesses can use a two pronged approach with regard to local in social media.
Firstly build a local group or potential client base, ideally by promoting your social media profiles in local online and offline advertising e.g. Find us on Facebook. However you can also find profiles based near to your location, tools such as grader e.g. tweet.grader.com, empire avenue and foursquare all provide a means to track down local active social media users and to connect or follow them. Find out what they are interested in, chat and share with those with relevant interests to your business product or service. Don’t spam them with promotions or adverts as this will simply put them off forming a connection.
The other side of the social media action plan is to make sure that you feature location in your posts, pictures, videos, tweets and hashtags, talk about local influencers and share local news. For sources of local news you can use Google alerts or social search monitoring tools e.g. saved searches on Hootsuite.com or Twitter.com.
5. Local Conversion Strategy
Build a familiar environment for local people by using your store, street and town information and images. Advertise ‘special’ local only offers, or provide a reserve and collect service (even by phone if your website doesn’t allow this), consider having a loyalty scheme, and make sure that you link in-store to on-line and vice versa to ensure that local consumers are offered their preference of purchasing and communication channels.
Use and reference local news and reviews, it’s always great to hear how a local business helped out a charity or group by supplying something they really needed and that doesn’t have to mean that you give it away either.
Last but in some ways perhaps the most important aspect is to keep your local digital marketing up to date and fresh. Make sure that you keep an up to date list of the media where you have provided local information access details such as user names and passwords.
In the event that your circumstances change or your business moves then you know exactly where to find the places where this information or aspects of digital marketing need changing.
Those who trade on-line only may feel that the above is less relevant to them however this is not the case and identifying where your best customer source is and focusing on marketing in that location can be just as valuable an exercise.
Best of luck and if you’re ever in St Albans and would like some help with your digital marketing then give us a shout.
Andrew Rayner – Founder and Managing Director of e-mphasis Internet Marketing
This blog was written by Andrew Rayner, a local search marketing expert and founder of e-mphasis internet marketing. e-mphasis have provided ALL of the search and social media marketing capability to Independent Retailer Month including the UK independent shops directory. If you are interested in finding out just how local search marketing can work for you Andrew has some excellent case studies to share about local search success – from a 1-man rubbish clearance company, to a family run 4×4 hire business, to a national restaurant chain and even an international hotel group!