The current focus on social media advertising is pulling marketing attention from the physical world to the web, and as a result, most businesses aren’t focusing on the “here” part of the here and now. In this article, I’ll take a look at some issues that many businesses are currently having with local campaigns, and I’ll highlight a few ways that they can improve their local game.
Brands Failing to Focus on Local Markets
Just a few days ago, MarketingProfs reported on a new study from CMO Council and Balihoo that indicates some interesting trends in local marketing. While the study applies specifically to national brands, I think that this information is likely true for both web-based companies and brick-and-mortar businesses that aren’t hip to current trends of localization. Let’s take a look at the stats.
- 59% of marketers called local marketing “essential” – but only 7% of them actually have a local campaign in place that calls upon analytics and strategic measurements of success.
- Only 8% of those surveyed said that mobile is a “critical” part of growing business at a local level.
- Just over one third of the marketers reported that their company is developing a local strategy.
- The top three categories of advertising arenas were corporate websites (86%), email (72%), and events (66%).
- Less than one third of advertisers engaged in marketing through local websites, outdoor advertising, area-specific social media, mobile advertising, and newspaper advertising.
These statistics come from national brands, as I mentioned. Even if your business doesn’t operate on a national level, though, I think it’s striking that these numbers are so low, especially given trends in consumer reliance on mobile and review-based research. Whether you’re a national business or not, take a look at these three strategies to improve your local marketing campaign…
Ask for Ratings and Reviews
Online reviews and ratings are quickly becoming one of the most important sources for consumer research before a purchase decision is made – in fact, 61% of potential buyers trawl though online reviews and ratings of businesses before spending their hard-earned cash on a product or service. This is especially true when people are thinking about offering their patronage to local businesses; anything from bars and restaurants to tax preparers and landscapers.
The good news for your business: just over 20% of customers find a review of a local business when they search a directory like Yelp, Citysearch, or Google+ Local. So if you can get your customers and clients to populate the web with legitimate positive reviews, you’ll have a leg up over your competitors. Here’s how to do it, according to Clickz:
- Ask clients and customers to write reviews, whether they’ve had a positive experience or a negative one. The more reviews and ratings you have, the better.
- Make sure that you have an active and up-to-date profile (including your website, business hours, and contact information) on popular review sites like Yelp.
- Engage brand fans on social networks, and ask them to give you feedback through Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other platforms you choose to use.
- Respond to feedback and reviews, even if it’s a quick, “Thanks for the feedback!” It’s especially important to reply to negative feedback in a timely manner, whether it’s to offer a simple apology or attempt to rectify the situation.
Once you’ve established yourself in the reviews and ratings cycle, it’s time to…
Optimize Your Local SEO
Let’s say you’re an antique bookseller, just for the sake of example. When someone in your area searches “antique books,” you’ll want to be the first page that pops up on the results list, right? The way to do that is by optimizing your web page and presence using local SEO, which is especially important as Google Now rolls out. If you’re just hopping on the local SEO train, consider taking the following steps to get started:
- Claim your Google+ Local Listing, and fill in your profile to maximum completion.
- Make sure that your address and phone number are listed on all of your web pages and social profiles.
- Keep those reviews flowing! Businesses with more reviews, and more positive reviews, are favored in the search rankings over those who only have a small smattering, or worse, no reviews.
- Once you get into more detailed SEO on your web page, make sure that your city and state are included in your page titles and links.
Check out this guide to local SEO at Search Engine Journal for more specifics, and where to go beyond the basics. Then…
Coming up first in the search rankings on someone’s laptop at home is one thing, but when potential customers and clients are doing research on mobile, it’s likely because they want something nearby, and they want it now. And this year, the number of small local businesses with apps or websites optimized for mobile is likely to almost triple from 7% to 20%. That number is sure to continue to grow in the future, so it’s a good bandwagon to jump on before your competitors roll away on it. Why should you optimize your site for mobile?
- 40% of all Google searches completed on mobile devices are looking for local results.
- A mobile-optimized site makes it easier for potential customers and clients to find your phone number and address.
- By 2015, the volume of local searches done on mobile devices is likely to outstrip those done on desktops.
- While two-thirds of mobile users say a mobile-optimized site makes them more likely to engage with a specific brand, just over half say that they’re less likely to buy from a brand whose site they can’t navigate on a phone or tablet.
So, make sure that next time your prospective customer is walking around town, searching for an antique bookseller (or whatever your business is), your result is the one that’s easiest to navigate.
Reaching your local potential in terms of advertising is hugely important, as consumers switch their searching to mobile devices and rely more on online research to make decisions about local purchases. Don’t be one of the many businesses without a good plan for local campaigns. Instead, gather reviews, optimize your local SEO, and make sure that your site is acceptable for mobile users.
What kind of local campaign is your business currently running? Tell us about your strategies in the comments section!
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