You’re not interested in becoming the next Wayfair or Amazon. You just want to sell high-quality furniture and deliver the best customer service in your local or regional area. You want to create jobs in your community and provide for your family. But when it feels like national mega-stores and or even your local furniture store competition is constantly besting you, it’s time to leverage digital marketing to improve local presence. And that’s why local digital marketing is specifically important. Here’s how to dominate marketing in your local area with local online marketing.
Local Digital Marketing: What’s the Difference?
Over half of the world population is on the Internet. 76% of people in the US have access. But you don’t need to reach the world when you’re a furniture store in Durham, NC, for example. You don’t even need to reach the whole state– unless you’re regional. You need the people of Durham and the surrounding counties to know who you are. These are your likely customers.
Local digital marketing is marketing that is hyper-focused on a certain area. It concentrates your resources where you’ll get the greatest ROI. When a local business engages in digital marketing that isn’t local, they spread the budget out like a crepe. It’s too thin in any one place to make much of an impact. It doesn’t matter how many frivolous toppings you sprinkle on it. There’s no substance.
Even if you have national ambitions, you need to build a firm foundation in your local area before branching out to get the most out of digital marketing.
Now that we know why local digital marketing is vital for local brick and mortar retailers, let’s take a look at specific local channels and strategies you can start applying today to dominate locally.
1. Geotarget With Display Ads
A great place to start thinking locally is in your display ads. If you’re in Durham, you wouldn’t drive to Dallas, TX to hand out flyers.Yet when it comes to online marketing, some local businesses make the mistake of targetting too broadly or not at all.
As a result, people click the ads. Then they find out that your showroom is too far from them. But you still pay for those clicks. And that can add up, draining your ad budget. You can prevent this when you use Google Ads geotargeting function to target:
- Specific zip codes
- A certain radius around your business
- A city, town or county
- The state
- Specific neighborhoods
Not only are you geographically narrowing who sees your ads. You can also show different ads to different areas. A top of the line dining room set may appeal to affluent customers, but not average Joe who lives in the working class neighborhood. Patio sets may be more popular in some areas while others are looking for pool tables. As you geotarget, you’ll learn more about different areas in order to send the most relevant message.
But Google Ads isn’t the only place you can geotarget.
2. Geotarget on Social Media
You can also geotarget on social media and you absolutely should. As a business, you don’t need “Facebook followers” outside of your market area. Your content is tailored to meet the needs and interests of the local community. If it’s not, it should be. Independence Day sales, store events, community matters, etc. So it’s important that when you’re creating boosted posts of your content, you get the right pairs of eyes on that content.
When boosting posts or running ads, don’t forget to explore your geotargeting options. And in terms of organic social media, tag the location in posts and mention local landmarks, events, celebrities, and businesses when relevant to show your localness. People love that!
The place is important, yes. But timing can also be important to local digital marketing. Here’s what we mean.
3. Time Ads to Mirror Local Business Flow
You want to get more people into your store. Local digital marketing is the way to do it.
On an episode of Our SKU’D View, Chris Lamb and Emily Stalvey talk about some of the most successful retail digital marketing ideas. One particular success story tells of a retailer who used their local digital marketing to boost the “stay at home mothers” message during the midday hours on TV and Facebook. While using the “busy working Millennial” message only on Google Ads and Facebook Ads later in the evening before the showroom closed. By coordinating your message to your audience, and your timing to the store’s natural flow of customer type, you’ll have better results.
The modern buyer’s journey starts online. Time your ads to manage foot traffic flow into your store. If after dinner is prime time for people to visit, start showing ads in the late afternoon. If you’re targetting retirees, then showing ads in the morning makes sense.
You probably don’t want to show ads after hours when someone might visit your site and have questions at a time when no one is managing your online chat.
It’s true that the Internet never sleeps, but by timing your ads, you have some control over when people visit your site and store. And because you’re targetting locally you don’t have to worry about timezone calculations.
4. Segment Emails Locally
Similarly to geotargeting ads, segment emails based upon geographic locations. If you have multiple regional showrooms, the most relevant emails for each customer will be ones that show and reference the showroom closest to them. How does this work?
First, make sure the location or “home store” is part of the buyer persona you’ve built. Next, use your email marketing platform to separate your lists based on that buyer persona. If you’re working with a local digital marketing agency worth their salt, they’ll already be doing this for you, if they have the data available.
Once you have segmented email lists, you can send local emails to each group of subscribers. If you’re having a sample sale at one location but a storewide sale at your clearance outlet, you can hit the right people with each of those messages. Customers are 5x more likely to attend an in-store sales event if they know the distance is less than a work commute.
Furthermore, create emails based upon that geographic area. For example, if a certain suburb is largely a retirement community or a development where young families are flocking, your emails to people in that area may reflect that.
But these aren’t the only ways to optimize your local digital marketing strategy. It gets even better.
5. Get Local with Your Remarketing
Remarketing is the act of sending an ad to someone who already knows who you are because they’ve been on your website. Usually, they visited your brand but have not made a purchase yet. Remarketing ads and emails are very effective. People are more likely to see and interact with them because they familiar things catch our attention.
You can remarket on:
- Social media – Target followers, people who’ve liked or visited your profile. For example, these ads may appear on Facebook, Instagram or websites who have partnered with them for ads
- Google – Target people who have visited your website. Ads appear on websites that have partnered with Google. You can even automate the ad so that it shows a person the exact Lazy Boy they were looking at.
- Email – When people abandon their cart or don’t complete a quiz, sending them an email reminder is a type of remarketing.
But to dominate local digital marketing, don’t show remarketing ads to everyone. They may have reached your site in error if they’re not even in your local area. Continuing to show them ads at that point may seem annoying or even appear “amateur”. On top of that, if they accidentally click the ad again, there’s another useless click you’re paying for.
Use the same geotargeting functions you use for regular ads on your retargeting ads.
But local digital marketing goes beyond ads. Your localness in fully integrated into everything about you, right down to your directory information.
6. Ensure the Accuracy in Business Listings Across the Internet
You don’t just have a Yelp page or Yellow Pages entry. Your business name and address are in many places. If you’ve ever moved, then some sites may have your old address. Some may have misstated something. When we’re working with furniture retailers, we’ve always found a missed listing. That means there is never 100% accuracy unless you’re monitoring this with an agency already. This doesn’t just mean correct Google Business pages. It also means having good Bing Places pages, claimed listings on Yelp, Facebook, and hundreds of others you don’t know about yet. But the internet does.
These listings not only help customers find you. They help boost credibility with Google, other businesses and customers. If they have errors, this suggests that you’re not paying attention to your online presence. These days, when the Internet is so important to so many, this looks bad for your business.
Consistent directory information is also a vital component of local SEO. So fixing incorrect listings and monitoring new ones may improve your visibility in local searches.
And speaking of local SEO,…
7. Create Locally Focused Content
Google tries to give local businesses preference in search results in their local areas. But Google can’t always tell who the local businesses are. For example, your website administrator could be San Diego, CA while you’re business in Hartford, CT. If you have an out-of-the-box website like Wix, your website could look like it’s in Isreal.
Creating locally-focused content is one very important way that you can demonstrate your localness. Here are just a few places you can add location information.
- Facebook posts
- Alt Image Titles and file names
- Mention your location in a blog post. For example, if we were in Flagstaff, AZ, it might be a good idea for us to mention Flagstaff in our blog posts when relevant. But since we’ve mentioned so many locations in this article, Google probably doesn’t know where we are right now.
- Footer contact info, including a phone number which should have a local area code.
- Network with local non-competitor businesses to guest post and link back to your site
- Tag the locations in social media posts
- Mention local events, venues, restaurants, etc. when relevant
8. Get More Online Reviews
Online reviews build trust with local customers. They provide local social proof that you run a great business. Focus on getting more reviews on Facebook and Google. People will put reviews in all kinds of places so tell customers where you want them to review you. It’s not okay to pay people for reviews or to ask for 5-star reviews. But it’s perfectly fine to ask for customer feedback in the form of reviews. Customers today expect it.
And, once again, this is great for local SEO.
9. Get Personalized with Your Marketing
You’ve got the national competition beat in one very important area. You know your local area, the people and places. You probably grew up there or have been there a long time. While others can try to fake it by researching online, you know have the ability to put this first-hand knowledge to work to really customize their experience.
It starts with automated personalization on your website. Use the data you collect from your visitors to show them the most relevant ads, make recommendations that they actually appreciate. Then find opportunities to show that you “get them” because you’re in the community.
And speaking of personalized,…
10. Add a Phone Number for Your Google Ads
When you see a local area code, online it gets your attention. Area codes are one of the top ways we know people are local. Use your local area code to your advantage by making it your call to action in your Google ads.
“Call us today XXX-XXX-XXXX”
This puts your phone number right there in the search results. They don’t even have to click the ad, which would cost you money. They can just pick up their phone.
And don’t forget to track these conversions. You need to know which marketing efforts are generating leads. You could just ask how they heard about you. But that’s unreliable. To really dominate local digital marketing use Google’s call extension feature.
This feature allows you to add a bit of code to your site and create a special call extension that goes straight to your business. And it tells Google that this call originated through your website or an ad. You can then track these conversions through Google Analytics.
And last but not least, let’s take another look at your local website.
11. Locally Optimize Your Website
A person who visits your website should be able to immediately tell where you’re located. This not only helps people across the country leave before they invest too much time. It reassures locals that you’re in their community. This builds trust.
We’ve discussed keeping directories up-to-date, getting more reviews, and creating local content on your site and social media as 3 very important ways to improve your local visibility in searches.
But there’s obviously more to it than that. Invest some time into your local SEO because if your site isn’t highly visible in your local area, it will be hard to get the most out of other local digital marketing efforts.
Get access to our new Local SEO Program now available for select retail stores at low costs.
Bonus Tips for Local SEO
When we use the term local SEO, it’s important to realize that we’re not just talking about your specific location. If you service several towns, counties or communities, you can apply local SEO techniques to rank high in their local searches as well. If you have multiple stores, make sure you give each store its own unique page. And work to help each of these “local pages” rank high in the local search corresponding to that showroom.
If you run regional promotions or events, you might be tempted to simply list all of the locations at the bottom of the promo page. But the best thing you can do is create a promotion or event landing page for each location. Then align this with your geotargeted ads so that people who click an ad from a certain area sees that the promotion is at the showroom closest to them.
Wow! You’re ready to crush local marketing! Just one more thing before you go.
Mastering Local Online Marketing
Throughout this article, we showed you the many ways you can maximize your presence locally through online marketing. Geotarget your ads, including retargeting ads, create local content, employe local SEO. If you’re struggling to dominate locally, MicroD can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.