Local Business Marketing
The shift in consumer online behaviour as a way of finding local business outlets is well known. Your local community are now much more likely to use a range of digital resources to find out what they need to know: social media, email, review sites, online directories and mobile searches. As a local trader without marketing and tech know-how, online marketing can seem complicated, and mega expensive. And the fact that there are so many channels and a fistful of new technologies doesn’t make the idea any more appealing.
However, if you want to be highly visible to your potential customers – and stay in touch with your regulars too – you’ve got to know where they are to find them. The majority are now online, which is where they expect to find local traders too – did you know that online local searches grew by 144% from 2007 to 2011? This new online landscape requires businesses to establish a meaningful business presence in the vital areas outlined below to stay in touch with customers and develop new markets. However you might feel about it, the days of a weekly half-page news spread are gone for ever.
Build a strong online presence
Your local customers will expect to see that you’re just as serious about online business as the big names. That means up-to-date and relevant information about your products/services presented in an attractive welcoming way, reflecting your personality and house style. In addition, your site and its content need to be properly ‘optimised’ so it’s easy for local customers to find your details when they use a local search on their phone or home computer.
Mobile devices are especially important because people now use quick smartphone searches anywhere and everywhere. Surveys now suggest that, by 2015, more than half of all local searches will be on some form of mobile device. And what is more, 67% of those asked said they are far more likely to buy products and services from easy-to-use mobile-friendly sites.
To cover all bases, local businesses also need to set up a business presence on Google+ and Facebook pages, and also check that they are present in directory listings with consistent detailing which is easy to find.
Attract good online reviews
Online reviews are the web’s ‘word of mouth’ recommendations, and Ipsos Thinking Exchange say 75% of customer-purchase choices are ‘heavily influenced’ by them. Even so, a market survey of small business reviews discovered that 13% of local business concerns never ask for customer reviews, and only 55% actually receive review feedback.
In today’s world of digital selling opportunities it’s essential for local businesses to ask satisfied customers to review their purchase, and vital to make the process as fast and simple as humanly possible. Many companies, for example, carry a portable device for customers to enter a review immediately after purchase.
As well as building up reviews on their own website, businesses should also look to gain reviews on other sites associated with their particular industry, and on important general sites like Facebook, Google+ and Yell. It helps very much here to ‘think like a customer’ – wherever you guess they may go looking to find you is where you need to be positioned, waiting for that approach.
Build good customer relations
One powerful way to connect and stay in touch with your customers is by making social media work for your business. Market Force statistics tell us at least 78% of customer-purchase decisions are influenced by social media posts they read on business sites they visit. Just a simple post celebrating some important business milestone, a photo, or a witty customer review, is often enough to trigger business enquiries.
A further attractive option is to run a special promotion to kickstart fresh interest. In the US, eMarketer found that over 50% of web users will use a digital voucher, so it is in the interests of local business to widely advertise such campaigns on their home site, and across social media, to take advantage of this customer trend.
In today’s climate, no successful local business can afford not to know how to find and retain online customers. Like any form of advertising, the process may take a little time to gather momentum, but with the help and advice of experienced local business marketing experts such as Hopscotch Studios your online programme will soon start to deliver results.
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