Digital marketing for local businesses is quite different from marketing for national or global businesses. It is true that the same channels are used, but in a different way. Local businesses target local people, who are geographically around. They may seem easier to reach without digital marketing; however, it was a long time since consumers started searching online before they basically bought anything.
More than 90% of users searched for local businesses on Google in 2019. This field is an important step in growing a business. There are 10 core points to understand where to focus specifically while working on digital marketing for local businesses:
- Create strong links with the audience.
Social media is an indispensable part of digital marketing no matter the size of a business. Social media platforms are where you meet your target audience and customers for a long-term relationship. As with all types of relationships, the key is to be compassionate and consider what they need.
- Make the target audience feel heard
Social media is not a presentation channel, but a good opportunity to help the audience. Within all virtual and physical environments, people are surrounded by advertising. The social media post that simply says “Buy me” is not interesting to people in the digital age. What people want to see to be interested in is “I can help you with this” if you buy from me. Buying/selling part of the story is outside the main focus, but to offer a benefit, to show how a product will change the experience, is necessary.
- Easy contact access
WhatsApp and Messenger are not just for talking to friends. They are helping local businesses communicate easily with target audiences. For example, WhatsApp Business App is great for “creating a catalog to showcase products and services and using special tools to quickly automate, sort and respond to messages.”
With Messenger, which is already used on a daily basis, you can quickly respond to potential customers’ questions. Being available on an application that people have on their smartphones is practical and safe for them. So, it is advisable to be present through live messaging, chatbots or both.
- Create a Google My Business account
A step that will help to be visible in Google searches. Visibility is the first goal before generating engagement in local SEO. The Google My Business account allows the target audience to see you when they search Google with related keywords.
After being seen, you need to work on converting users into customers. The first key to that is to provide accurate, up-to-date information so they can quickly call or visit a website with a click. Even if the hours of operation are clearly stated, the physical business can be visited without waiting. This is how and why local online marketing can show results fairly quickly.
- The importance of reviews
Everyone cares about the experience of other users before paying for a product or service. It is important to ask customers to leave a review on Google to leave a more positive trail on digital. Reviews are beneficial not only for online reputation, but also for local SEO. Search engines consider them as content and they show up in the results. So, reviews help increase visibility in Google search results.
- Create content based on local events.
Content that is shared with the audience is supposed to attract attention. The key is simplicity: when it’s snowing outside, it’s not the best idea to share summer vibes with beach marketing. Instead, you can try hot springs-themed content or the advantages of shopping when it’s not peak season. You can list all the festivals and gatherings in the region you are active in and create your content accordingly using SEO tools.
- Locally targeted ads.
Without a doubt, if you are only looking for organic engagement, it will be difficult to reach many people. That’s why advertising is a must for local online marketing. It should be kept active in both social media and search engine advertising to promote the business locally.
- Community Involvement
Local businesses are generally expected to support the community by being part of it. Even if a store is a shelter for stray dogs when it rains, the community feels that it is taking care of the neighborhood. How to adapt this idea to an activity on digital platforms? For example: be a sponsor of an event that benefits the community.
- Develop a loyalty program
Digital advertising is not just about gaining new customers. You must also find ways to retain current customers. Creating a mailing or WhatsApp group is a simple way to do this. A loyal customer is good for a subsequent purchase and also to be your brand ambassador, naturally.
- Never forget that digital is a constantly changing field.
User expectations and behavior in digital are changing quite rapidly. We all need to update our knowledge on best practices surrounding each step.
An outdated digital marketing strategy means a waste of time and money. One can follow the latest newsletters and publications on trusted platforms and also get feedback from customers. Interaction and self-improvement is the key to success in digital marketing for local businesses.