Do you own or operate a local business?
If so, there’s no doubt that you have felt the impact of COVID-19 on your customers’ purchasing habits.
More and more, it’s absolutely clear that local businesses need to take full advantage of the digital landscape to promote themselves and keep up with competitors large and small.
It’s also clear that the shop local movement shows no sign of slowing down through 2021 and beyond.
Regardless if your business has dabbled in digital marketing marketing, has been running complex campaigns for years, or still does not have a proper website, we’ve compiled the following high-level guide on how to advertise your local business online.
Know Your Audience
First and foremost — you need to know how to reach your target audience.
Think about your customers’ demographics, interests, habits, and so on. What sort of people are they? What conclusions can you draw about their online habits? What sort of websites do they visit? Are they likely to trust digital advertising? Are reviews important to them? Do they make quick purchasing decisions, or are their buying processes longer? Are they price sensitive, or are they more focused on quality?
You already know your customers, but understanding how they operate and make decisions online is key to properly planning and executing on a digital marketing strategy.
Does it surprise you to hear that more than one in four small businesses do not have a website?
While many local businesses try to get by with no website or by using tools like Google My Business and social media as substitutes, we strongly recommend having a professional website for your business.
Your website is the heart of your online presence and should be the most important aspect of your digital marketing strategy.
Whether you choose to build a website using an easy-to-use, low-cost tool like Wix or Squarespace or choose to join the 40% of the world that hosts their website through WordPress, the most important thing is to ensure your users are able to find you online and find what they need on your website.
Another key to remember is that the majority of all website traffic now comes from mobile devices. 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile, so ensure that your website is built with mobile usability in mind.
Your Business Listing
If you are in the 50% of local businesses who have not claimed or created their Google My Business listing, you are missing an opportunity to drive more traffic, get more customers, and communicate key information to current and potential clients..
This can include information like important announcements, changes in hours, new promotions, your customer reviews, and more.
Sourcing and maintaining reviews for your GMB listing is particularly important. In the US, 93% of online customers determine whether a business has a good reputation or not based on available online reviews. 69% of online customers were more likely to do business with companies with positive reviews.
Your Google My Business listing is like a giant online billboard. Be sure to use it effectively!
How often do you use Google?
Probably pretty often.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website for more and better website traffic..
Organic website traffic (from SEO) accounts for over half of all website traffic, so ensuring that your website is well optimized is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy.
Local businesses in particular should leverage SEO strategies to drive traffic to their website and educate users on who they are and what they offer.
SEO is a complex and ever-changing process — tactics are dynamic and adjust as Google updates its algorithm and ranking factors.
- Technical SEO
- User Metrics
- Online Properties/Reputation
Mastering each pillar through continuous efforts will guarantee a leg up on your competitors.
Paid advertising is any kind of advertising that you pay for rather than earn. With digital paid advertising, you pay the owner of the ad space for the use of said ad space.
Some of the most common types of paid advertising are display advertising, pay-per-click (PPC) and pay-per-impression (PPI).
Local businesses can use paid advertising campaigns to stay top-of-mind with their customers, show up for search terms they are struggling to rank for with SEO, and reach their target market when they are looking to make a purchase.
Common online paid advertising channels include Google Ads (Search, Display, YouTube, etc.), Facebook/Instagram Ads, Twitter Ads, Microsoft Ads, and more.
Each channel has its own benefits, drawbacks, and quirks. Doing thorough market research to determine where your audience browses online is paramount in running effective paid advertising campaigns.
It is also key to write ad copy and use creative imagery that reflects your business and resonates with your audience. Knowing where to reach your customers is only half the battle. Getting them to take action is the real trick.
In 2020 there were nearly 4 billion active social media users in the world. This was up from just above 2 billion users in 2015.
In the USA, 70% of the total population uses social media. In Canada, this figure is 67%.
Regardless of where your business operates, using social media to your advantage is now non-negotiable in today’s world.
The type of business you are will impact how you use social media. For example, if you are a local contractor, you can use social media to post pictures of projects as they are completed. Auto dealerships may use social media to advertise new models and showcase happy first-time car buyers.
No matter how you choose to use social media, the most important thing is to ensure you are doing it consistently. Having out-of-date social media channels can be a detractor and make your business look less trustworthy than those with active social media profiles.
No matter your type of business, size of your marketing budget, or otherwise, there are strategies that any business can use to gain more and better customers online.
Hopefully this guide has helped you determine where your focuses should be when planning on how to advertise your local business online.
Remember, no matter where you are with your digital marketing journey, the most important thing is getting started.