It takes time to adapt to new technologies and small businesses usually don’t have in-house digital expertise necessary to make it happen.
28 Jul, 2017FORBES.COM
Local businesses are some of the slowest to adapt to digital technologies and digital marketing strategies. That’s because small local business owners have to wear many hats, and with so many responsibilities, staying on top of the most up-to-date marketing trends isn’t always a top priority. It takes time to adapt to new technologies and small businesses usually don’t have in-house digital expertise necessary to make it happen.
Through experience, I’ve found that for many local small and medium sized businesses it’s most effective to craft localized digital marketing strategies that are unique to each brand. Truth be told, there is a lot of power in using digital marketing to get results for local businesses. Based on experience with local clients, here are a few of the local marketing tactics I'd recommend.
Content marketing is a must when it comes to successful digital marketing. All across the digital landscape, brands are investing in churning out high quality, engaging content that encourages links, shares, and engagement. And it isn’t just a strategy that only works for big brands -- small businesses have proven time and again that all it takes to create engaging content is expertise in a specific field or industry and the persistence to devise a content calendar and stick to it.
Small local businesses have a great opportunity to create content that is specific to their city or region. Local law firms are experts in the specifics of the law within their state. A local landscaping business probably knows more than almost anyone else about how to design and care for lawns and gardens in their specific geographic region and climate. This expertise can be used to build content that’s useful to users in their target region.
Fresh, quality content is an organic search ranking factor, and it can help attract links, mentions, and shares -- all of which are good exposure for your business.
Airbnb uses content that is uniquely tailored to the specific area of the customer as a way to boost engagement.
Partnering with nationally-recognizable influencers can be extraordinarily expensive, and it’s a tactic that’s out of reach for small businesses. But influencer marketing doesn’t just mean working with huge names. In fact, it’s usually a smarter, more effective strategy to build partnerships with niche influencers. These niche influencers have engaged audiences who follow them based on their specific sphere of interest and influence. That means that although their follower counts are lower than those of mega-influencers, niche influencer marketing is more likely to connect with the right audience.
For local business, there’s an opportunity to tap local niche influencers who are well-known within a specific city or state. Research the bloggers in your city or town and see if any of them have interests that align to your company’s products or services. By building partnerships with influencers in your area, you can introduce your business to new, highly relevant audiences.
Social media advertising is the way to go if granular targeting is your goal, which it is for most local businesses. On Facebook, for example, you can target your ads to users based on state or region, city, zip code, or business address. You can further refine your local targeting to specify people who live in the area, are visiting the area, or have recently been in the area.
Related: You can now find jobs on BEAM
Social ads can help drive brand awareness, website conversions, and store visits. On most platforms it’s easy to keep budgets in check -- a key concern for many local advertisers.
Local search ads are one of the most reliable and cost effective ways to drive sales and leads. Setting up local search ads with Google means your business can be listed at the top of the results when a user conducts a local search relevant to your business. On desktop your ad will show with a link to your business info, your website, and directions. On mobile, ads can appear both in mobile search, and searches within the Google Maps app. Mobile ads include a click-to-call link so users can contact your business directly from the search results.
Paid search ads operate on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, which means you pay based on the clicks your ads receive. You can set maximum budgets to keep spending in check in the beginning. As you optimize campaigns and begin to see better leads at lower costs, you can gradually increase your spending.
WeWork's Facebook advertisements contain copy and imagery that is specific to a geographic location, and thus incredibly relevant to the user at hand.
Capitalizing on mobile traffic should be a key priority for local businesses. Mobile searches are very often local in nature, and they can demonstrate an immediacy that desktop searches usually lack. A mobile searcher who does a search for “clothing stores” is very likely to be out and about, looking for a clothing store to visit at that exact moment or in the very near future. A desktop user who performs the same search has far murkier objectives. Capturing that mobile user, therefore, should be a top priority for local businesses.
What happens, though, if you do everything right with your marketing and you end up getting that mobile click, only to deliver a subpar mobile website experience? You may have lost that customer for good. Even though local businesses have been historically slow to adapt to the latest and greatest in web design, they’re the ones who stand to gain a lot by designing mobile-first experiences that make the needs of the mobile user top priority.
Warby Parker is a national ecommerce brand, with an offline presence as well. For customers who may be looking to visit their online store before going to their physical store to make a purchase, the completely optimized mobile site offers an excellent user-experience.
Even for national brands with dedicated internal teams, it’s a challenge to stay on top of all the shifts and changes that happen in the digital marketing space. For local businesses with smaller budgets, the best approach is to try out different local marketing tactics and ultimately invest the bulk of your digital budget in the ones that show the best returns. The 5 approaches listed above are a great place to start.