Digital Marketing for Local Businesses: 6 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic
Earlier this year, online sales officially outpaced brick-and-mortar sales for the first time in history. But that doesn’t mean in-store purchases will go the way of the dodo. In fact, retail sales hit a record of $6 trillion in 2018, so there are plenty of opportunities for all types of businesses to get a slice of the retail pie. Furthermore, research has found that emotional connection to a brand is one of the key factors in determining customer loyalty, not just convenience or price.
That’s good news for local businesses, which are uniquely positioned to draw upon their integration with the local community to acquire a loyal audience and grow sales. Adding a robust digital strategy will further augment visibility, and increase the chances of a local business growing its customer base. If you are looking to attract more customers to your brick-and-mortar location, start with these 6 tips for digital marketing for local businesses.
Implement a local SEO strategy
Whether customers are looking to buy something online or at a store, a simple Google search is likely to be the first step in their research process. In many cases, like with restaurants, experiences (like spas and salons), and specialized retail stores (like footwear), potential customers will look specifically for establishments they can find in their local area.
Therefore, your business website should include a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that focuses on the hyperlocal.
While most retail-oriented SEO keywords describe a product or service, digital marketing for local businesses should also incorporate location-based keywords, such as the city, the neighborhood, or the state.
For example, if you own a jewelry store located in Orlando, you might use the following keywords:
“jewelry store Orlando” or “Orlando engagement rings”
You should use these keywords throughout your website copy, headers, and metadata. In-house marketing teams or agency partners can help you conduct research to find the location-based keywords that work best for you.
You can also build up your local SEO by adding your business website to local directories. This will improve link-building and increase your chances of being seen on search results for a specific location and business category (like “Tampa sportswear”).
Claim your Google My Business Listing
To further optimize the chances of your business appearing at the top of Google’s results page, your business should have an active Google My Business account. Google My Business serves as a business listing that includes essential company information like the following:
- Company name
- Phone number
- Company description
If your business is listed on Google, but you don’t have access to update the information, claiming your business on Google is simple. Simply search for your business in Google and locate the link that says ‘Own this business?’ to begin the process to claim your account.
You will then be taken through the steps to name your business, add contact information, services, photos, logos, offers, and even posts that will appear when people are searching for your business.
If your business is not listed at all on Google, you’ll need to add it to Google My Business by logging in to your google account, preferably one associated with your business domain, visiting the Google My Business page and following the steps to create your business listing. You’ll be asked for your business address, service areas (if applicable), business categories, and contact information. To complete the setup of your listing, you’ll also need to verify your listing, Google will verify your listing with a verification code provided by google either by phone or via a postcard.
When you claim your listing, you can provide customers with a snapshot of your business, increasing your visibility and making it easier for customers to contact you. This is particularly useful for customers who are searching on their mobile devices and want to take action, like calling the store or finding directions.
On a desktop, the Google My Business listing appears on the right side of the screen in a large box, immediately drawing viewers’ attention. On mobile, it appears as the top result.
Continuing with the jewelry store example, the image below shows the Google My Business listing for Diamonds Direct Jacksonville, which appears when a user searches for “Jacksonville diamonds.”
The listing shows the local business’s photos, its location on the map, and its contact information. In addition, the Google My Business listing includes more than 200 Google reviews from customers who have previously visited the store and submitted an online ranking. This further increases the business’s credibility and is likely to attract local customers.
Get hyperlocal with Yelp advertising
Aside from Google, customers often use Yelp to find reviews of local businesses, such as restaurants, doctors, and local stores. According to Yelp:
74% of the consumers searching online for a local business rely on review sites and 92% of consumers who visit Yelp ultimately make a purchase at least sometimes, frequently, or almost always.
Restaurants, healthcare providers, and local services like dry cleaning have a particularly strong presence on Yelp.
Many consumers will visit a business’s Yelp page before deciding to visit a location. You’ll want to stand out from the competition by optimizing your Yelp profile. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you update your Yelp profile:
- Fill out all available fields including services offered, and company description with as much detail as possible.
- Add high-quality photos to your listing
- Make sure to include keywords and locations related to your business throughout your company profile description to increase visibility.
- Add all locations (if applicable) in the service cities section.
- Ask customers for reviews about their experience, encouraging to be specific to boost keywords throughout reviews.
In addition to its usual business listings, Yelp also has a self-service platform for targeted advertising opportunities, including ad placement on Yelp search and competitor business pages. To get started with Yelp’s Self Service Advertising, you’ll need to have a Yelp business owner account attached to your business listing. Once you’ve set up your Yelp business account, navigate to the ‘Your Business’ section to find the Yelp Ads, Check-in Offers and other advertising tools that you can use to promote your business.
Yelp Ads will appear as sponsored results when users search for terms related to your business. To set them up, simply establish a budget and time frame and Yelp will display your listing as an ad within their search results. Ads are also optimized for mobile. In the example below, a Yelp search for dentists in Miami starts with three sponsored results, guaranteeing that customers will see these first.
You can also create check-in offers to encourage users to check-in to your business in exchange for a discount or other item, or create a Yelp Deal to bring in customers with a special offer.
Reach local drivers through Waze advertising
Waze is a GPS app owned by Google, offering step-by-step navigation and travel tips submitted by other Waze users. Waze gives business owners the opportunity to incorporate the following:
- Paid advertising through pin alerts - Ads that mark your business location on the Waze map and include info like business address, hours, phone number, and coupons.
- Search ads - ads that flow to the top of search results for nearby Waze users.
- Zero-speed ads - Ads that show your business info and offers when Waze users come to a complete stop.
The image above from Geoawesomeness displays the three different ad options (pin alerts, search and zero-speed ads) Waze offers within their app.
Many brands and businesses have found great success using Waze as an advertising platform. McDonald’s utilized Waze to launch an in-map advertising campaign that included pin alerts and zero-speed takeover ads and search ads. The ads converted at a rate averaging above 6% and continue to drive success for the brand today.
This can be a great option for local businesses that cater to people on the road, customers visiting a place for the first time, or individuals who tend to drive everywhere rather than walk.
Optimize social media profiles for local business
As with ecommerce businesses, local businesses can benefit from social media, especially Facebook. As a starting point, set up your Facebook account as a local business and include the address and contact information. You should also embed a local map, geotag your posts, and offer the option for followers to get directions to your business.
You can add business location and contact information by navigating to Settings > Page Info. If you have a street address, Facebook will include a ‘get directions’ button and a map by default.
When sharing posts about offers and happenings at your business, you can use the check-in feature to add your business location to the post.
After the initial setup, use social media to engage with your current and future customers.
For platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, consider running local promotions and encourage users to tag your business or use a hashtag that you create.
For example, in the post below, this yoga studio is offering a contest in which users who follow the studio’s Page, comment with three friends’ names, and tag the studio in a post will be entered into a raffle for free classes.
Launch offer ads on Facebook for local customers
On top of organic Facebook marketing, utilize Facebook ads to expand your reach. In particular, Facebook offer ads enable you to send discounts and deals to customers, which can be used either online and in-person.
If you want to increase sales within a brick-and-mortar location, create a Facebook offer ad in which customers receive a barcode or QR code on their mobile phone, which can then be applied at checkout.
From within the Ads Manager, you’ll need to first choose your objective. When creating an offer ad in Ads Manager, you can set your campaign objective as “Store Traffic” to generate the discount barcode, which a customer can use immediately or save for later.
You'll see a section labeled Offer. Switch the toggle button to ON.
If you have multiple pages that you manage, Choose the Page you want to create an offer ad for and click Create Offer.
Add details about your offer, choose where it can be redeemed, in this case - in-store, and set up the code for your offer (optional). Then click Create.
Next, you choose your Audience, Placements, Budget and Schedule for your offer ad. In addition, you can geotarget your offer ad by setting a particular radius for people who will receive the deal.
Keep in mind that the ideal radius might differ across businesses and locations--for example, a neighborhood in which most people walk everywhere might require a smaller radius than a town in which most people will drive.
Click Continue when you're done.
Choose a format and images or video for your offer ad, and add some exciting copy to let people know how awesome your offer is.
Once you’ve set up your creatives, you can add your website links, texts, call to actions and more. After you’ve completed all the fields, you can see a preview of your ad. When everything looks as it should click Place Order and you’re done!
The nuances of digital marketing for local business will depend on the exact location, industry, and target audience that you are trying to reach. That’s why working with an experienced marketing agency is beneficial for crafting a strategy to expand your local client base and your on-site sales. Ready to take the leap? Contact a Pacific54 representative today.