In a world where everyone is always trying to get things as quickly and easily as possible, every business that has a fixed location needs to understand the best ways to tackle local marketing. A huge percentage of your customer base will no doubt be locals that can reach your business within a quick walk or drive, so doesn’t it make all the sense in the world to focus huge amounts of your marketing effort on pulling in these invaluable leads?
In this post, we’re looking at 5 of the most powerful methods you can get going for your local business that’ll help get your brand buzzing on the local map and pulling in swarms of new local customers.
Why’s it so important to act right now? Because people are now looking for local businesses more and more. A recent study by Yodle identified that a whopping 82% of consumers in the US claim to use local businesses. 47% stated that they feel they’ve used local businesses more this year than last year, and 48% planned to use local businesses far more in the coming 12 months. Your local audience is out there looking for the things they want from suppliers that are close and convenient to their location as possible.
If you do nothing, you can bet your lucky stars that all of your nearest competitors definitely will be which puts you behind big time. Get it right however and you could jump ahead of rivals that aren’t chasing local traffic seriously enough. So what’s the first step? Here are the 5 most vital tactics you should start with:
Optimize your website’s keywords for local traffic
This is a huge one because search engines will be where a huge amount of your local customer base will turn first when they need you most. When someone wants to find a local gym, for example, the first thing they do is grab their phone and smash in a search on Google. What exact terms would you search for? Because you’d be looking for a location that’s as close to where you live or work as possible, you’re likely to enter in a city or town.
Keyword optimization is all about identifying the terms your customers are using to look for you and then placing those phrases into your page content so that your site is seen as relevant to people’s searches. The first step is to find the right keywords to use. The “right” keywords are the ones that are being used often but aren’t yet being targeted by armies of other businesses. This is where long-tail keywords come in.
Long-tail keywords are phrases that feature multiple words and so represent a very specific search intention. Short-tail keywords are always very competitive because they’re so general and every business out there wants to compete for them. Long-tail phrases might not be typed into search engines by so many people, but because the phrase is so specific, the people that are using them to search have a very clear purpose in mind.
“Boxing class in north (town or city)” is an example of a longtail keyword. There are apps you’ll need to use that let you discover possible keywords, show you how much they are being used in searches, and let you gauge what the competition is like for each phrase. Moz offers one of the best keyword tools out there so it’s a great place to start.
Once you’ve rounded up some great keywords with decent traffic volume and low competition, you’ll need to place them throughout your website pages, page titles, meta tags, blog content, as well as any listings you might have on sites like Google My Business or any other database sites. Not set up a Google My Business listing yet? Then you’d better get cracking! Here’s a great detailed step-by-step guide on how to get your Google My Business page up and running.
Reach locals with social media
Nowadays it’s actually easier than ever to connect with people through social media based on their location. What a lot of marketers tend to forget is that social media users don’t like the hard sell, so you have to be very careful to avoid pushing your products too aggressively. Social platforms are there to allow people to engage with things and others that they love. Your brand will benefit if it’s seen as a provider of value, and not just a group that is trying to sell something.
It works when you get it right, 48% of U.S. consumers claim to engage with brands on social media. What exactly are they doing with these brands? Hootsuite’s survey found that 59% of users appreciate the speed and convenience of using social media as a customer service platform. Not only is it a great way to publicly show how much you care about your customers, but it’s also a fantastic way to ensure you stay connected with any users that have actively shown interest in your brand.
One of the simplest ways to start making your social network pages more “local”, is to add more location-specific information to your content. Add keywords containing locations to your hashtags, bios, and posts.
It’s not just about reaching out to as many local consumers as you can and grabbing their attention for 5 mins. It’s more about making your brand a consistent provider of quality content. The more you show that your brand is engaging with specific events, landmarks, and issues in the local area, the better.
Don’t ignore local directories and social groups
Directories like Yelp are used by huge volumes of local traffic to find the things they want very easily. Look up as many directories as you can and try to find your business. Here’s a good list of some of the largest and most used directories online.
If your entry is empty, you can fill it in to make sure you have a presence. Social groups are a little bit different. Facebook, for example, features a wealth of groups that are springing up constantly. People create these groups to discuss certain subjects or agendas, so every group has its own objectives and rules. You may need permission to join certain groups, but once you’re in, you’ll be able to make posts and engage with all the members of that group.
Some of these social groups can get pretty big! Here’s a great list of 25 groups that have over 1 million members. If you can find a collection of groups that relate to your local area, your business niche, or simply things that your target market are interested in, you can stay engaged with large pools of your target audience.
Optimize ads to target locals
Don’t have the time to come up with creative, engaging posts round the clock? Then you can concentrate on ensuring your paid ads target the right local customers. Building a following on social media can take time – a lot of time.
If you’re keen to see more immediate returns and you’re prepared to pay for them right now, paid ads are certainly an option. You’ve probably seen the constantly changing list of small ads that appear on the right side of every Facebook page. It can be a handy idea to spend some time looking through them as you wander across different pages. Which ones stand out and get your attention? What is it about them that pulls you in?
How exactly do these ads work? One of the most common models within online ads is known as a pay-per-click. These types of ad are offered by Google, Facebook as well as other huge sites that attract swarms of users. Basically, you design an ad and then pay every time a user on the platform clicks your advert (to be taken to your website pages).
When you’re trying to operate a local business that targets a local audience, your ads need to be tailored to attract the right local customers. If they’re not, you could end up spending huge amounts on ad campaigns that are wasteful and don’t bring you the level of local custom you should be achieving with your budget.
Facebook advertising and Google Adwords both allow businesses to target audiences based on they’re location, country, city, or zip code. You can set up an Ad campaign that says exactly what you want and gets shown to your exact target demographic.
Remember that when it comes to ad campaigns, there’s always room for improvement. It’s all about starting with more than one concept so that you can track the results and compare which design seems to bring you better results. In terms of the content of your paid ads, here are a few ideas to get your ads tailored to attract locals:
- Timing can be crucial. Know there’s something going on in the local area? You can design an ad that mentions the activity or plays on a theme that locals will understand.
- Personalize ads so that they offer something exclusive to the local area. These can be offers that are connected to the weather, the average age of the local population, or other criteria that directly relate to your target audience.
- Targeting a particularly young audience? The more you can speak to them in their language, the better. Be careful however, nothing puts off millennials more than an overdose of forced slang.
Constant testing is always important in paid ads. Facebook allows you to change the Campaign Objectives from Awareness to Consideration or Conversions. You’ll need to try these different objectives and assess which brings the most desirable results for your business.
Nail local reviews
You can’t sell online today without a list of stellar reviews backing you up. Reviews have become incredibly important because so many customers now look for reviews before making their final buying decision. You can be the closest option to a potential new customer, seem to offer exactly what they’re looking for, and be the cheapest, but if you don’t have reviews saying nice things about your business, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage next to competitors that do!
Yodle found that more than 75% of customers think online reviews are a key factor in how they evaluate local businesses. 40% expect to see reviews and 36% believe reviews are what set a local business apart from its competitors. The study also found that 90% of the surveyed consumers said they would happily leave a review if asked, but only 7% claim to have been asked in the past.
How’s your review game going? Do you have a huge list of past customers singing your praises? If so, you need to be showing them off like there’s no tomorrow. If not, you need to work on getting some and the best way to do that is to start asking.
Yes, online reviews can be daunting because they basically allow your customers to say whatever they want about you, but at the same time, it’s a golden opportunity to set yourself ahead of your competitors, as a well as a chance to turn negative experiences into positive ones. If you don’t have a review system, they’ll be a lot of unhappy locals leaving your side without you having the chance to do anything about it.
So how do you go about collecting reviews?
First, you need to pick your prime review platform. Google My Business (GMB) has a reviews section so if you’re going to be perfecting your listing on GMB, this is where a lot of your most powerful reviews will need to be on show. Another very popular review app is Trustpilot. The more widely used and trusted a review app is the more credible and powerful the reviews are going to be.
Once you have your review platform set up, it’s all about finding the right customers and asking them to review you. Here are few ways to get your first reviews rolling in:
Place your review link in email campaigns
All review platforms including Google My Business will have a function that allows you to share a review link. The link takes users to a page where they are asked to fill in a review for your business. If you’re currently running or planning to run a series of email campaigns, you can place the review link in the signature of every customer-facing email you send out.
Segment your customer base by lifetime value
If you have a database of customers, try isolating the ones that have been interacting with your business for the longest time or produced the most value. These are bound to be some of your most loyal brand advocates. Once you’ve identified them, send them a personal email tailored to their situation that asks them to kindly leave you a review. These should be some of the most attractive reviews you actively chase down.
Make it part of the post-sales process
Post-sales are all the efforts you make to retain customers once they’ve already purchased from you. This can be one of the most vital times to seek reviews, as your brand and the experience they’ve had with you is still fresh in their minds. You can include the review link in your “thank you” emails or send out small discount offers to those that leave a review.
With a long page filled with positive reviews from local customers, you’ll have a very powerful sales weapon at your side when customers face that all-important final decision point. Ignore reviews, and you’ll be at a crippling disadvantage up against any competitors that have amassed a sparkling collection.
That’s our five! We hope you’ve found this quick list of the best ways to suck in local leads helpful! If you think we’ve missed anything, please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below!