If so, then it is absolutely crucial that your business create an online presence which makes them visible to local customers who are looking for them. Those that do will see the difference in their sales. Those that don’t will not — and will be drowned out by their competition.
First, we’ll discuss what it means to create a local marketing strategy and how you can get in front of customers in your area who are looking for your services. We’ll also discuss how customers currently find goods and services, and what that means for your business. Most importantly, we’ll explain how local marketing is essential for a successful, competitive business. It’s a must, not just a maybe.
The Times Are Changing
In the not too recent past, customers used a variety of now archaic methods to find businesses in their local areas. They found you in five ways:
- Word-of-mouth referrals
- Billboards, signs, or storefronts
- Directories such as Yellow Pages
- Newspaper ads
- TV or radio commercial
Word-of-mouth marketing is still powerful. It may be slow, but it still works. And if you see a billboard or a store when driving by that interests you, you’re likely to buy. The problem still is ease of access. You can’t click on a billboard to get more information, and you certainly don’t have enough time to write down the phone number while driving.
Newspaper ads have become far less effective because readership of newspapers has dropped steadily over the past decade, and newspapers reported 5% less ad revenue from 2009 to 2014. With the advent of technology and younger generations getting their news from digital sources, the readership of print newspapers has steadily aged, to the point where the only age group in which over 50% of people read newspapers on a daily basis is 65 and up.
The fifth option, TV and radio spots, is still used, but is very expensive – and does absolutely nothing to get in front of a customer when they need you right now. How often when watching TV or listening to the radio do you sit and listen to commercials? For most, it’s never. We either watch shows on demand or change the channel/station to something else.
Now, what do all five of these methods have in common? They’re all reactive. They push out information instead of pull it in. You’re pay a lot of money to advertise to everyone when only a few will actually purchase.
Here Are Some Statistics to Consider
According to BrightLocal.com, 91% of all consumers said they have used the Internet to find a local business, a 13% increase from 2010 to 2015. 43% of consumers use the Internet to search for a local business just once a month, 38% increase from 2014.
Better yet: 80% of consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations. If you’re thinking, “That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re buying locally,” you’d be wrong. One survey found that 78% of local searches on mobile resulted in offline purchases – and that number was from 2 years ago.
The bottom line is this: the Internet is the main way customers find local businesses today. If you’re visible online, you will get new business. If you’re invisible, you’ll lose your competition wins. So how do you create a strong local marketing presence?
A funny thing happened in Birmingham, AL which perfectly illustrates the importance of local optimization. A restaurant called Surin of Thailand never built their online presence, as a result, Google pulled the information which it found to be relevant for that business. Turns out though, when you Googled the address, a picture from Facebook of a unrelated woman populated Google. She was the first thing you saw.
As funny as this may be to the lay person, this is frightening news for a business owner. In order to understand why this happened, you first must understand how Google knows about your business. Google is collecting information about local businesses from anywhere it can. But that isn’t limited to only the profile you created for your business. Any amount of information is fair game, and if you’re anything like most businesses out there, much of that information is incorrect.
You could have changed or added locations, changed your phone number, or even the information itself could be wrong. Google buys data from big data providers, who in turn buy data from smaller data providers. If those providers have incorrect information, they’ll report it to Google, and no one will ever know the difference.
If these methods can’t be relied on to consistently grow revenue, how do you market your local business?
The simple answer is this: consumers take action themselves to find businesses when they are ready to buy, and that largely means searching the Internet.
Enter local search engine optimization, or local SEO. Local search optimization checks your information online by making sure essentials like – name, address, and phone number is correct on several different online directories. This way, when these providers scrape your data and sell it to Google, they’re giving Google consistent information across the board. This information is then correctly displayed, and positively impacts your search ranking. If your information is inconsistent, the less Google likes you and the lower your ranking.
For a local business, this is absolutely necessary. Not only do you need to be visible, but you need high enough rankings so consumers choose you over your competition. Local search optimization is only the beginning, though. It’s a good foundation, but there are many steps to insure your business has a strong presence.
Mobile Search Is at the Top of the Food Chain
Content was once the most important aspect of your website. Now it’s mobile search – and its importance is growing exponentially.
More people are now using mobile devices to find anyone or anything – especially local companies. According to a Google report from 2015, more people search on mobile devices than they do desktops or laptops.
If your website or strategy aren’t mobile-friendly, you’ll drop in rankings. Your website has to display it’s content relative to the device. This means text must be legible, and buttons/links need to be easily ‘clicked’.
If you’re like me and you’ve been to a website which isn’t mobile friendly, you immediately leave the site. This can lead to not only poor reviews, be more importantly, decreased sales.
The Importance of Reviews
When you search Google, you’ll notice the ‘three-pack’, or the top three results for a business. But if you look closely, what you don’t see are phone numbers or addresses. But one thing that is there – and is very prominent – is the review section.
Google displays all the reviews that it can find for your business — and the mechanics are simple: companies that have more reviews perform better than those that don’t. Those that have good reviews perform better than those who don’t.
You can see why it’s so important to have as many reviews as possible, but don’t neglect Google reviews, either. Currently, it is more important and effective to have Google reviews than say Yelp reviews. The reviews from site outside of Google are helpful none-the-less, but Google will be more influential, plus provide local SEO.
At Tempo, we offer a service called review tracking. This service will contact your customers for you and encourage them to leave great reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other websites. This is a great and valuable service because reviews drive decisions. Just think about all the times you use reviews to make your decisions; Amazon, hotels, restaurants. Like I said earlier, word-of-mouth is still important, but reviews combine this benefit with digital marketing. It’s the best of both worlds.
Putting It All Together
I could go on about the importance of local businesses having local optimization to get local customers. The bottom line is simple: you need to actively build a local presence. Simply having a website is not enough anymore.
You can follow the steps above to start your local SEO journey, or you can work with Tempo Marketing to handle all of this work for you. Be aware that this process is a complicated one that takes time and months to take effect. It’s a long-term strategy, not a short-term fix.
If you’re local, be local – and make sure Google knows who you are. That’s the only way your customers will find you.
Contact Tempo Marketing today to learn more about local optimization for your business.