How to Develop an Online Marketing Strategy for Local Businesses

Working with local businesses presents a different type of challenge for marketing agencies. While some strategies are useful for global online brands, companies that are looking to reach a specific audience need a tailored approach. Focusing on broad demographics can be a waste of time and resources, so it is vital you target the channels that will attract the right people. The following strategy is useful for any business that wants to engage a local audience.

Understand the Audience

Before developing a marketing plan, it is essential to understand the audience you want to reach. Local businesses will typically want to target people within the vicinity, but they may also have a particular demographic reach. While looking at the current customer base is important, you may also be able to expand this audience with careful positioning of the brand. Using a combination of Google Analytics, Facebook, and a web statistics service will provide an idea of the type of people who visit your website and social media platforms.

Create Targeted Campaigns

When you understand the audience, creating campaigns becomes far easier. Ad platforms like Facebook and Google let you target efficiently, so you don't need a huge budget to start testing. It may take some ad variations and ongoing testing, but you should be able to make your ad campaign profitable. Creating a winning campaign will provide you with customer data, so you can then use this across a range of platforms.

Develop a Social Media Presence

Each social media site is different, but they mostly can target audiences in specific ways. Facebook lets you create or join relevant groups so that you can become a valuable asset to your niche or local community. Other sites allow you include hashtags or locations, making it possible for the right people to find you.

Hold a Contest

While the internet lets you reach a global audience, many local businesses are trying to avoid this as it lacks precise targeting. Holding a social media contest is a great way to attract interest, but the prize should aim to limit interest to your target audience. You could offer a coupon for people who visit your store, with entrants needing to post your competition to their followers.

Use Local Media

While global platforms are vital for your strategy, you shouldn't ignore opportunities to leverage local media. Most towns and cities have local newspapers and television shows, with journalists eager to find interesting stories. Your brand should ideally have a memorable message or story behind it, but there are still other ways to garner interest. Holding a local event or fundraising activity can generate interest and do something positive for local people.

Join Relevant Directories

Individuals looking for local businesses seek out trusted directories, often prominent websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor, but there also are smaller sites focused on a niche or local community. Most companies will have profiles that are not set up to promote themselves effectively. In most cases, working on building an attractive profile with descriptions and images can be enough to stand out from the crowd.

Local Listings

Local listings play a key role in showing up in Google’s map pack. According to Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, Google My Business Signals make up 25% of your ranking factor. This includes proximity to business, selecting the correct category, and having the keyword in the business title.  

Having a consistent NAP is also a necessity for local listings. Any time a business moves locations, they will need to update their citations. If Google sees multiple locations for a business, then this can dramatically hurt their chances of ranking in the map pack.

Keeping up with this work can seem overwhelming for a local business business owner. The good news is there are a lot of resources and agencies ready to help out. Many marketing agencies utilize white label seo companies to help fulfill this work. Showing up in the map pack is growing increasingly important as the real estate on the first page continues to shrink for organic results. Don’t be afraid to ask your local marketing company for help.

Promote Testimonials

Testimonials and reviews are an effective way of promoting a business. When people see positive responses from real customers, they are more likely to visit a store and feel comfortable making a purchase. Instead of merely collecting testimonials, though, promote them heavily on your website and social properties. Use positive quotes and five-star reviews as a way to back up your marketing message.

Many local markets are far smaller than a typical global niche, so it is important to target effectively. Rather than trying to reach as many people as possible, local marketing requires focused targeting that finds the desired audience. If the goal is to get people into the store or business premises, the audience must be local and relevant. By using this strategy, you can make your marketing practical and economical, pleasing local business owners who often struggle to reach people online.