A Complete Guide to Marketing your Local Business Online
If your business markets to the local population, then it’s extremely important that you make it ridiculously easy for people to find you online.
A Complete Guide to Marketing your Local Business Online
Online Marketing is not just for large businesses. Marketing your local business online is one of the most critical things to get correct. Even if you are advertising through other means, it is crucial to have your online presence set up properly. Chances are, no matter how a potential customer hears about you, they are going online to check you out. The Facts are:
Understand who the ideal customer is for your business
If you want to get serious about online marketing (and I think you should) you need to understand WHO you are marketing to. Traditionally, this meant understanding your demographic as far as age, gender, and maybe average income. You needed that information so that you can go to radio or TV stations that have a similar demographic. If you plan on stepping into the online marketing world, you need to go much deeper than that. You need to create a Buyer Persona.
A Buyer Persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
When creating your buyer persona you need to go much deeper than just your demographics. You need to consider behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better your overall online marketing strategy will be.
Do not skip this step. Every other part of your marketing strategy will revolve around how well you understand your buyer persona.
Depending on the products or services you offer you can have more than one buyer persona.
Claim your Google Business Listing
As a local business owner, the best place to be is in the Google Local 3-Pack. This is the top 3 businesses that show up in Google Maps for any given search without having to click “more places”.
If for instance I wanted Pho tonight and so I did a search for Best Pho in Salt Lake City. These are the results I got.
You can imagine that those 3 restaurants get more business off of Google Maps than any other. Now, just because you claim your business listing does not mean you will be in the 3 pack. But by claiming it and optimizing it, your chances increase greatly.
Once you claim it, you can also change any information that may not be accurate. You can also view insights as to how many people saw your google listing, how many clicked on your website and how many asked for directions to your location.
You can learn more about your Google Business account by reading my blog post.
Add your business information to online directories
A WordPress Website will go a long way in helping you with your online marketing efforts.
There are several good WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website designing software, but as far as I’m concerned none of them hold a candle to the overall versatility of WordPress.
There are currently over 74 million sites that utilize WordPress in one form or another. Because the number is so large and it is an open source software you can find just about any solution you are looking for inside of WordPress.
You have thousands of different themes you can choose from be it free or a paid premier theme. You have tens of thousands of different plugins to choose from. If you can think of it, there is probably a plugin for it.
Want a login on portion of your website? There’s a plugin for that.
Want pop overs, or pop unders? There’s a plugin for that.
You get the idea.
Best yet. You don’t need to be able to code at all, but if you understand HTML and CSS, you can configure WordPress anyway you want.
While your at it, make you’re website EXTREMELY mobile friendly
One of the other great features of WordPress is that each site is at least mobile responsive. So if you give no consideration to mobile sites, it will at least by default work on a tablet or phone. An even better feature is the ability to turn modules on and off depending on what device the site is displayed on. If you don’t want to go through the effort of designing what really amounts to two websites, design it specifically with mobile in mind. It will display fine on a computer, though maybe a little more white space than you would normally like.
Ask every customer to review you online
Did you know that 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation?
Further, 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business!
This is according to Bright Local’s annual Local Consumer Review Survey.
According to a survey performed by Moz of the 2017 local search ranking factors, online reviews account for 13% of the overall ranking factors used by Google to rank a business in Maps. If you are a local business, this is where you want to be.
Obviously, reviews are important. It is also one of the most overlooked – and when done right – easiest parts of your overall online marketing strategies!
The question is how do you get positive reviews? Here are a few simple steps you can follow:
1. Make sure you are set up to receive reviews on multiple sites.
While it’s important to get reviews on Google, you ultimately want reviews across as many sites as possible. You also don’t want to assume that every one of your customers uses Google. Give them the opportunity to choose where they want to leave the review.
2. Ask your customers.
7 out of 10 consumers surveyed stated that they would leave a review if asked. It is best to ask right away. The longer you wait to ask, the less likely they will review you.
3. Make it as easy to leave a review as possible.
Put direct links to review you on your website. Send them a follow up email with a link to review you. Or you can utilize our review service to automate the process for you.
Why should you worry about getting online reviews?
of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevent
Use appropriate Social Media for your business
Leveraging the power of Social Media for your online marketing can:
- increase your online brand
- create more awareness of your products
- drive traffic to your website and
- help you sell more products and services
Before you just jump in and start posting content to Facebook and Twitter, you need to have a game plan. First, understand who you are marketing to. This comes back to your Buyer Persona. If your persona uses Facebook, focus on Facebook. If they are more the Linked in crowed, then focus your efforts there. As a small business owner you don’t have time to waste on every social media channel, so make the most of the time you do have.
Entrepreneur.com created a great article called the 10 laws of Social Media Marketing. I highly recommend reading it. I’m going to focus on #10. The Law of Reciprocity. The law essentially says, “If you want others to share your content, you need to also share their content.” I focus on this law for two reasons
- The easiest way for you to start getting a following IS to share other peoples content. In order to really build a following, you need to post to your social media of choice at least 2 times a day. EVERY DAY. You don’t have enough time to create enough content on your own to post even half of that, and paying someone to write that much content would be expensive – though if you can afford it go for it! I wrote an article that gives you a strategy to post great content to your social media without spending too much time. Give it a read!
- If you need to share other peoples content in order for them to share yours, the opposite would also apply. If you share other peoples content, it is more likely they will share yours when you post original content.
Make impressive videos and upload them to YouTube
Video is a powerful tool for small businesses to leverage. According to Cisco, video traffic made up 70% of all consumer Internet traffic in 2016. That number is expected to go up to 82% by 2021. I shouldn’t have to put any more compelling information to get you into video, but I will!
- Google LOVES videos. Especially YouTube. Videos keep consumers on your website longer. This is a leading indicator to Google (and other search engines) that your site is authoritative and relevant.
- Customers love watching videos. Once again, this is where having a detailed buyer persona would come in handy. While this is a good overall statement, the level of enjoyment for your particular customers may be higher or lower than average.
- Video builds trust. Look at your Buyer Persona.
- Videos can help explain your products and services much better. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures!
- There are some great software solutions to help you email videos that will seriously increase email click-through rates. I personally use BombBomb.
Kick start your online marketing journey with an Adwords Campaign
Organic SEO can take a long time to start kicking in. Especially if you are trying to rank for several different keywords. An Adwords campaign can help kick start your online marketing efforts as well as filling in the gaps where you are not showing up as strong organically as you would like.
Be careful not to focus TOO much on Adwords. While several studies show slightly different information, the consensus usually revolves around PPC getting approximately 30% of overall online clicks, Organics – both Standard Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and Maps make up the other 70%.
Another drawback is the overall cost of that click. The Cost per Click (CPC) for organics will continue to drop over time as you will need to spend less time ranking content once it is getting good results. While you can improve the CPC for Adwords, it doesn’t go down by much. Depending on your industry the CPC could be anywhere from under a dollar to over 100 dollars.
Never stop adding awesome content
This may be the most important part of your online marketing strategy. It is critical for you to constantly be writing new blog posts for your site. The content needs to be at least 500 words long. The best way to do this is to first start with pillar content. Pillar content is the primary content for your page. It should be long – as many as 2,000 to 5,000 words, and detailed. It wouldn’t hurt to put video on it. Every other blog post you write should link back to your pillar content. This will help show Search Engines that this page is an important and relative page and it will rank higher.
If you are reading this guide, this is MY Pillar content. It currently has just over 2,000 words. I will revisit it often over the coming months to improve and add to the content. You will also notice over the next several months that I will expound on each one of these sections with at least one supporting blog post. For more information on pillar content, read this blog post.
If I can stress one piece of advice it would be this: DON’T QUIT WRITING!
Not every piece you write will be great. You can always go back to an old piece and improve it as time goes on.
If you absolutely can’t write, you can outsource it to a company like Zerys. Zerys has thousands of freelance writers around the world ready to write for you. Give them some direction and they write your post.
Bonus tip. Incorporate your offline marketing with your online marketing
In any business, there is no one all encompassing answer for marketing. This probably holds more true for a local business than a large corporation. Don’t stop “offline” marketing efforts. Instead incorporate your offline and online efforts together to improve both. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Add reviews to your marketing piece.
Incorporate a 5 star review into your marketing piece. I suggest something like: “Here is a 5 star Google (or Yelp, or Facebook) review from Stacey…”. You can also add your aggregate rating across all sites that you have reviews. If you don’t know your aggregate rating, we can run a report to get it for you.
2. Create a landing page with a customer offer and add that URL to your marketing piece.
If you are going to send out a direct mailer or an some sort of insert, offer some sort of special. Create a landing page (basically a page where people will “land” when they go to your site) with more details about the special with a form they can fill out to receive it. Add that url to your mailer. The url would look something like this: www.yourdomain.com/special-offer/.
3. Message Match.
The idea here is relatively simple. Whatever your offline marketing is, make sure the information on whatever url you use in the ad matches what is said on the ad. For example. Let’s assume you are a plumber, and you just sent out a direct mail piece about a special you are having on water heaters. If you just put your root domain (i.e. www.yourdomain.com) and don’t add anything about the special, you are wasting a HUGE opportunity. This goes back to creating a landing page about the offer. However, if you don’t create a landing page, at least have the offer on your home page front and center.
4. Create a detailed video and add the URL to your marketing piece.
Once again, this goes back to a landing page. You getting how important the landing page is? A video can be a great opportunity to go into deep detail about your offering.
Above all, remember. This is a marathon, not a sprint!
This all takes time. Rome, as they say, was not built in a day. Your online marketing won’t produce results that fast either. However, if you dedicate some time – at least an hour a day – to implementing the strategies in this guide, it will eventually all come together.