When you’re running a local business, it can be a challenge to stay ahead of the crowd. In the digital age, a two-pronged approach is necessary – companies need to invest in both traditional marketing and the latest online strategies.
Potential customers in your local area need to be aware that your business exists and that you can offer them the products and services they’re looking for.
And while local businesses are making a comeback (with more and more people choosing to shop where they are), many now find the most relevant stores through a web search.
What this means is that your marketing strategy needs to reach people both online and offline. You need a physical presence, as well as a virtual one.
Here are four marketing hacks for local businesses that will help point more customers straight to your door.
Optimize For Local SEO
When people search for goods and services online, they generally do it through their mobile phone. As long as their location settings are on, the search results will point them towards local stores.
When people are provided with a local suggestion, they will visit within 24 hours and 18% of those visits result in sales. So, it really does pay to make sure your business is one of those that are mentioned in search results.
But how can you make sure you appear near the top of the pile? There are a few things you can do:
- Make sure you have a Google My Business account and enter as much information as you possibly can. You should always include your business’s opening hours, a link to your website, photos of your premises and a detailed description of what you do.
- Do the same for Bing Local and Yahoo Local.
- Show Google that you are relevant to the searcher’s inquiry by optimizing your description for the search terms (keywords) they might use to find you.
- Go one step further with optimizing for keywords and set up a Google Places account. You can enter all of your relevant keywords here and they should be optimized for your location. For example, use ‘tire fitters Bradford’, rather than plain old ‘tire fitters’.
Ideally, you will only use high-resolution images and make sure the information you have on Google My Business, Bing Local and Yahoo Local is the same as on your website. You can add some keyword tools to your website builders, or use free web applications like Google Search Console and Suggestion Keyword Finder.
Create An Online Presence Through Reviews
Online consumer reviews play a key role in driving traffic to your business and boosting your search engine rankings. An astounding 93% of all consumers report that online reviews have a significant impact on their purchasing habits.
You can’t ignore the numbers. Harnessing the power of word-of-mouth by requesting reviews from your customers is one of the best things you can do for your business. You can start by:
- Providing links to prominent review sites in customer follow-up emails
- Mentioning reviews on receipts
- Placing posters within your premises that point to places to leave reviews
- Asking your staff to request reviews from the customers they serve
Encouraging your customers to leave reviews on Google, Bing and Yahoo can drastically increase your online visibility and make it more likely they’ll visit you when you come up in map search results.
Use Local Signage
To reach a wider audience, you need to expand your online presence. But tried and tested local advertising should not be ignored. Investing in local signage is one of the best ways to drive foot traffic to your business, especially if you’re not located within the main shopping area.
It’s also a great way to reinforce your company’s brand and make your business instantly recognizable to local people. Alongside the internet, signage is a 24/7 solution. It works on your behalf all day, every day.
For anyone attempting to find you from an internet search, some measure of signage that points to your premises is essential. Adding your website URL to your it can increase the ROI from your signage investment since a lot of people prefer to check out a business online before trekking out to their local store.
Some of the best signage solutions for local businesses include:
- Placing banners in prominent places
- Adding branded stickers or car magnets to your vehicles
- Employing a sign spinner to man your local shopping area
- Placing a sandwich board near your premises
You can even mix up your strategy across your signs. On some, simply promote your business’s name and contact information. On others, advertise any local events your business is holding, or special promotions you’re running.
They say diversity is the spice of life and this also rings true for advertising. But you don’t have to stay up into the small hours or be constantly on call to make a real difference to your online and offline presence. Both local SEO and physical marketing tactics work for you, even while you sleep. So get yourself on Google maps, invest in some local signage, and watch as the customers roll on in.