In 2018, Ireland was ranked in 31st place globally in terms of exports. But the coronavirus pandemic has severely disrupted global shipping and operations. Most countries have closed their borders except for food and essential items. For the ports that remain open, they are operating at reduced manpower and therefore efficiency has been impacted. This has forced businesses to turn to the local markets to stay afloat. Local marketing is therefore more important to businesses more than ever.
Local marketing is a digital marketing strategy that aims to place a brand and its products in front of people within a given locality. It’s used by restaurants, medical offices, spas, bars, and chiropractors among other businesses to target prospects within a specified radius. Local marketing helps a brand to stand out in its geographical location and attract a perfectly segmented customer base. It’s also known as location-based, neighbourhood, or local store marketing.
Benefits of Local Marketing
Local marketing has a lot of benefits to a business when done right. Some of the advantages of using local marketing include:
- Increased customer acquisition and retention: Local marketing allows a business to segment its customers to a specific location. This enables it to understand the specific needs of the customer base and adapt its marketing message accordingly. It’s also easier to offer after-sale services. A remarkable customer experience leads to increased customer acquisition and retention rates.
- Extended customer lifetime value (LTV): LTV refers to the net profit a business makes over the lifetime of a customer. Businesses that are able to cultivate long-term relationships with their customers through local marketing enjoy higher and longer LTV.
- Faster market penetration: Local marketing also gives a business direct access to its clients. It will be able to communicate more efficiently because it understands the customers’ main sources of information.
- Improved customer satisfaction: It becomes easier to develop detailed buyer personas and tailor content that serve the customers’ specific needs. This improves customer satisfaction and ultimately enhances brand loyalty.
- Stay ahead of competition: Customers usually prefer localized brands compared to global ones as they believe they’ll offer better customer service. This gives an edge to brands that use local marketing.
- Enables local partnerships: Local marketing enables a brand to partner with other local businesses and producers. This has a positive impact on the brand’s reputation within the community. Hiring local talent also helps towards having a good standing within the community.
- Attract investors: With local marketing, a business enjoys higher market penetration. This makes it easier to rope in investors when it needs funding for business expansion.
Local marketing can help small and medium enterprises to grow their businesses. While 90% of consumers still make purchases from physical stores, up to 97% of buyers rely on the internet to find a local shop. Furthermore, a third of consumers who search for local businesses online end up making a purchase. That’s how powerful local marketing is.
Now that you understand the importance of local marketing, how should you go about it?
Elements of Local Marketing
There are best practices that guide effective local marketing strategies. For a successful local marketing campaign, you should factor in the following elements:
1. Local SEO
Search engines are focusing more on user intent and driving results based on user locations. General search engine optimization (SEO) is not enough when doing local marketing. That’s why local SEO is becoming increasingly important to businesses. Local SEO is important to your local marketing strategy because it increases your chances of ranking higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Some of the factors to consider when doing local SEO include:
- Localized title tags that include city names
- Localized URL structures that include product categories and street names
- Including product categories in meta descriptions
- Implementing a localized schema markup for local business names, addresses, and phone numbers
- Localized on-page business information including operating hours, local descriptions, and map directions.
2. Listing management
An accurate listing of your business name, address, contact information, maps, business hours, and photos is the foundation of successful local marketing. It’s important to claim your online listings and ensure that the information is accurate and consistent across online directories and search engines. Some of the platforms you can claim your listing include Yelp, Google, and Bing.
Remember to include as much information as possible when claiming your local listing. This includes product descriptions, categories, hours of business, services available, payments accepted, photos, and coupons.
3. Local landing pages
A local landing page should be the backbone of your local marketing strategy. This will enable your customers to find you when they’re looking for a local shop. The landing page should be simple but have comprehensive information about the business. Ensure that your local landing pages are optimized using title tags and descriptive schema markup to send information to search engines. You should also include a trackable local phone number so your customers can easily contact you.
4. Local paid search and social media marketing
When doing paid marketing campaigns on search engines and social media platforms, ensure that your ads are localized. This helps to reach specific audiences within your locality. Customise your campaigns to specific geographical markets. Platforms such as Facebook allow you to create highly targeted ads directed at specific demographics.
5. Reputation management
Having a good reputation is very important for a local business. User-generated ratings and reviews have a huge influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Up to 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. Implementing a reviews strategy for your business can have a significant impact on your local marketing strategy. You need as many positive reviews as you can get. Some businesses offer incentives to encourage customers to leave reviews.
But negative reviews don’t have to spell doom for your business. In fact, they are inevitable. It’s how you handle them that matters. Follow through on them and address the issues raised by customers to turn their experience into a positive one. You can read more on how to deal with negative reviews and improve your reputation on this link. Deleting reviews that you don’t consider favorable to your business does more harm than good.
It’s important to optimize your website and social media pages by ensuring they have up-to-date information. Your website should be responsive, have fast loading speeds, and be optimized for mobile devices. But local marketing doesn’t end online. You can also take it offline and sponsor or host local events to increase brand awareness and visibility. Additionally, you can take part in community volunteer programs. Such offline activities increase the chances of your local audience finding your online pages and store.
Local marketing isn’t a new concept. Chances are you’ve done some form of local marketing already (giving coupons and discounts on a particular offline store, etc). But you’ll need to refine your efforts to develop a long-term local marketing strategy. These ideas can get you started. But like other digital marketing strategies, local marketing requires dedication and effort to be effective. It can be a tough act of balancing local marketing with other business operations. That’s why you should consider hiring an experienced digital marketing agency to handle your local marketing needs.