Ninety-seven percent of consumers use online media to research the products and services they want to buy locally. Ninety percent use search engines with location (city, neighborhood) targeting to find products or services. Within four years local media advertising is expected to grow by 30 percent.  Optimizing your website for search, providing local value and utilizing social media to establish a local voice is more important than ever.
Community-focused, local marketing is time consuming and expensive, especially for national brands. As a pioneer in locally based marketing via our own blog, myHealthyOC.com, we know the ability to connect brands with the community that will buy their products or services takes much more than just running a two-dimensional ad, or hoping that they will “Like” a Facebook business page. People buy from businesses that provide them value and experience. Businesses’ ability to connect with their customers at a local level requires that you earn their trust. Creating compelling marketing stories that enable your business to stand out from the competition, highlight locally-based offers and using personalized content to earn that trust is the key to capturing local markets. Although, you can’t just talk, you have to listen and respond as well.
While marketing has always focused on the ability to create your business’ story, social media and content marketing now require you to be ready to speak to your target customer as well. From HubSpot:
“There is a science to targeting, engaging and nurturing with social networks that will allow you to build up a social following that you can use as a quality source of leads for your business.”
You need to learn who your local audience is, how to provide them value and respond to their needs. The right team and tools are essential for success.
Most service-based companies only have a geographic play. There are very few services that consumers will travel long distances to receive (ignoring the travel industry). According to AdAge, about 74 percent of internet users who search for a product or service include a city, area or zip code, yet most businesses do not know how to digitally market and position themselves to stand out in those areas. Initial research for a product or service is traditionally in the top of the sales funnel, versus a location directed search which is at the bottom or end of the sales cycle (the last stop before purchase happens).
Case Study: Client XYZ retains So Fun Media to extract value from social media marketing. They pay a different agency a large fee to run a few social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp) and email marketing for them, but could not measure any value from the efforts or expense (ROI). They had a nice following, but no tangible increase in website traffic or lead activity.
What they are doing right:
- a dedicated team in place to support and drive social media platforms
- monitoring and analytics are in place
- the team actively posts on platforms
- email marketing goes out at least one time per week and their email list continues to grow nicely month after month
What they are doing wrong:
- They are on each social media platform, but there is only one profile for the corporate company. They have seven locations in seven different cities. As a customer of this company, if I live in Irvine, I really don’t care about the “specials” they are running in Santa Monica.
- There is no customization of content for each location. They post about “general” topics and do nothing to personalize the experience to the potential customers near each location.
- They have done no profile updating on the dozens (or hundreds depending on your reach) of directory-based websites. Through search their correct addresses for each location may or may not show up.
- All digital pay-per-click advertising through Google and Facebook used generic service terms with very little geographic targeting. They were running ads in neighborhoods that are likely much further than the typical client would drive.
- Email marketing is not segmented by geography. Each location should have customized, local email messaging and should only be sent to subscribers in that geography. Thus, their unsubscribe rates are very high, open rates very low.
- Monthly reporting is in place, but there is no system in place for analyzing the results and modifying their strategy for better performance.
Things you can do to optimize your business for local marketing:
Unlike social media, search and display networks, local marketing is not its own channel. It is a layer of information that is ingrained within the structure of digital platforms (channels). Geo IP location services use the unique internet addresses for where you are to deliver the best information to the user. With the continued growth of the use of mobile devices for all things digital, real time location data will continue to become critical to finding your next buyer when they are close to your business. This combined with search optimization (SEO) and search marketing (SEM) become differentiators for businesses that want to reach their local markets.