For big box stores, online marketing makes obvious sense. Giant chain businesses have huge online audiences and can afford the expense of extensive paid advertising and marketing through multiple online venues. Their strategies are intimidating, and online marketing can seem difficult and expensive.
Local businesses, though, should also practice online marketing. Using strategies specifically targeted towards localized marketing online, even small local businesses can usually afford to enhance their reputation and increase their success via the internet.
Use these 7 online marketing strategies for local businesses to leverage the internet for your business’ benefit:
1. Establish an Online Presence
One of the first questions many business owners ask about getting started with online marketing is where to begin. Generally, Google has listings of addresses and sometimes even names of local businesses. From there, business owners have the option to establish a presence via their own website, in online directories, on social media pages, through retail sites, and even on review sites. The answer to which of these venues local businesses should market through? As many as possible.
To rank well in search engines, your business should be listed in multiple places online and multiple times in those places. Basically, the more established the business’ online presence is, the easier it is for consumers to encounter the business and the easier it is for consumers to find or stumble across the business through a search engine.
2. Create a Clear and Modern Website
The importance of having a helpful, modern, up-to-date website is too often overlooked. As increasing numbers of consumers turn to information on the internet to make decisions about where to give their business, an old or confusing website becomes a death sentence. Potential consumers are likely to check businesses out online before doing business with them, even if they’ve seen the storefront or have visited the business previously.
Consumers often check business hours, contact info, prices, and more via the internet as well. If they have difficulty identifying such basic information or find it on a website that looks outdated and poorly managed, they are likely to get the same impression of the business, believing the local business is as outdated, difficult, or poorly managed as the website. In other words, ditch the poor website designs if you want to see an increase in your success with online marketing.
3. Incorporate SEO Into Everything
Ensuring that a local business does not get lost in the plethora of information found online is possible largely through the use of search engine optimization (SEO). A marketing tactic that involves strategically using keywords, geo-tagging, categorizing, and much more, SEO is all about building a reputation online so that search engines will identify your business; it is essential to successful online marketing. If a search engine like Google can find a business’ info, it will be much easier for consumers to find that same info.
Some of the best ways to use SEO for a local business include:
- Focusing on a niche using just a few targeted keywords (e.g. this article’s focus on “online marketing”)
- Focusing taglines and key phrases on location for localization
- Publishing unique content on different sites that includes the business’ niche keywords and the business’ name
- Including keywords in social media content and profiles
- Connecting with other local businesses that are visible online
Local business owners often connect with small marketing firms or freelance marketing experts to ensure their web presence is SEO-friendly.
4. Let Google Help You With Your Online Marketing Strategy
Even though most local businesses are already listed somewhere on Google because of Google Maps, it is important to make sure local businesses are verified on Google and have updated, correct information. Google processes about 40,000 search queries each second. By verifying and correcting business information on Google, any of those queries pertaining to your business are more effective.
Be sure that Google has:
- A correct link to your website
- The correct business hours listed
- Contact information for consumers to use
- An accurate address
- Links to reviews, directories, and other pertinent information about your business found online
Establish and verify this information on Google regularly. Additionally, build a Google Plus following to improve rankings and receive easy to find reviews.
5. Try Paid, Targeted Advertising
Many of the places where local businesses should have a presence online also offer paid advertising opportunities. For instance, a local business with a page on Facebook can pay a small price to have their own advertisement promoted on Facebook to a targeted local audience. This tactic is useful for reaching local potential customers who may not know about a local business or who may not know a local business is now available to connect with online.
Reaching niche audiences through paid social media advertising locally can offer a high return on investment. This is especially the case when advertisements offer sales, coupons, invites to local events, and other actionable opportunities for consumers to engage with a local business in person.
6. Use Free Analytical Tools
Many large businesses’ online marketing success has a lot to do with them using analytics information well. Through analytics tools, businesses can identify the best time of day to share information, where their web traffic is generated from, conversion rates, and much more. Fortunately, many local businesses also have access to this sort of information if they know where to look.
Social media pages like Twitter or Facebook have analytics tools and data built in. Many websites can have analytics software applied, such as Google Analytics. These tools are either free or offered at low rates. Local businesses ought to access analytics information to optimize their use of the internet for marketing purposes.
7. Demonstrate Your Local Pride
Some aspects of online marketing really are this simple. Connectedness in the community helps local businesses gain free advertising and is a great way to market online. When local businesses share local news stories and talk about their participation in local events or issues online, for instance, they can rank better in search engines and are likely to reach a wider local audience. Something as simple as sharing a local news story with a basic comment on the issue described in the story can be engaging and spread far online.