By Christine Kropp
Digital marketing can be frustrating for local brick and mortar businesses. If you’ve tried running a Facebook contest only to find that half the entries are from the other side of the country, you know what I mean. In my experience creating local marketing campaigns for franchisees, digital marketing without consideration for your local audience is a big waste of time. If the end goal is to bring people through your door, your online marketing, including social media, must be integrated with a strong local marketing component.
At Bluewater, we have some basic tenets we follow to ensure our clients’ campaigns are successful.
Know your customer. With so many options for locally targeted digital marketing, it can be very challenging to find the best ad opportunities for your business. The most effective way to determine the right spend is to pay attention to how customers today find your business. You can do this by simply asking, “How did you hear about us?” when a customer makes a purchase. Or create a form for your website that offers a discount coupon in return for filling out a simple questionnaire. As a business owner, you should have at least a basic understanding of Google Analytics, or employ someone who does. Google Analytics can help determine important information about customers and how they find you.
This kind of data leads you to choose the best online local ad buys for your business. For example, if you see that many customers come from Google organic searches, Adwords should be an important consideration. If your business is often reviewed on sites like Yelp or Angie’s List, you may want to look at building more of a presence there. Perhaps your customers engage with your brand on Facebook. Boosting posts, promotions or using Facebook ads should be considered. The main point is that in order to determine your best options, you need to understand your customer first.
Understand your search engine options. Everyone knows how hard it can be to rank organically in search engines. If your customers are finding you via search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, paid search is a way to guarantee top listing. Most programs use PPC pricing where you only pay for those customers that click on your link. There is even a Pay Per Call option that charges when someone calls your business from an ad. (If you see a lot of mobile traffic on your website, this is a good idea.) Remember, just like organic search, paid search must use keywords that fit your business.
Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places) is another free service from Google that prompts customers to take action. According to recent studies, more than 70 percent of mobile searchers call a business directly from a Google search. Google My Business accelerates this behavior, and makes your business much easier to find by adding it to Google Maps and Google +.
Mobile marketing is critical to your business. According to Global Web Index, 80 percent of Internet users conduct searches on smartphones. To add to that, 80 percent of smartphone users shop on their devices. And 70 percent of consumers who look up a business on their mobile device act within the hour. Your website must be mobile responsive. If your site takes too long to load or is too hard to use on a small screen, the statistics prove that you will lose business.
Your efforts with SEM and other online advertising should also translate to mobile. Consider this when making decisions about advertising. Do the ads work on mobile? If they don’t, consider more inclusive options.
Don’t forget about traditional marketing. If you’re asking your customers how they’ve heard of you, a few may still mention an ad they received in the mail. If most of your customers are part of an older generation, these mentions may be more frequent. Whatever the case, don’t cancel 100 percent of your traditional ads to jump exclusively into digital and mobile. Integrate your traditional and online ads by using the same creative messaging and visual themes. Print ads can drive customers to your website, for example. Experiment with the percentage of budget used for online vs traditional to learn what mix gives you the best results. In the end, the best strategy is a comprehensive blend of mobile, digital and traditional that grabs your customers’ attention in a number of places, and leads them to your door.