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Do you have a local business that’s not making the money it deserves yet? Would you like to gain more clients and tap into the online space that so many other local businesses have benefited from?
Do you need to expand your brand online and learn the right way to blog and have a social media presence?
This blog post gives you expert advice on how to do such and more. We’ve collected the answers of 40 experts, all responding to this key question:
What three pieces of advice would you give to a local business looking to get more clients online?
Enjoy the read and please spread the word about it.
The strategy I’d recommend would depend largely on the type of the business and the niche. However, no matter what industry my client is in I usually use a quant-based approach. It’s pretty simple:
WHO is my target audience? This is a persona framework…understand their pain points.
WHERE are they online? This comes from a heavy stint of market and competitor research.
WHICH message will resonate across the different stages in the buyer journey? Mapping content with pain points (top, mid and bottom funnel)
MEASURE what works, TEST, OPTIMIZE and RE-ENGAGE. Google Analytics, Luck Orange and a variety of page-specific retargeting across social, Google etc.
That’s super high-level, marketing 101 type advice so I’ll touch on a few specific tactics I find myself implementing within most “local” online marketing campaigns.
1) Local Search
As a local business, it’s important to rank in both organic and local search packs. Top 3 is critical. Outside of that and you’re going to miss out on most of the traffic.
I’ll perform a full site audit (lots of Screaming Frog, WhiteSpark and Google Webmaster Tools) to make sure all the technical pieces are in check and there is no penalty potential.
I’ll do the following:
a. Add Schema markup
b. Optimize the Google My Business account
c. Audit local citations and ensure consistent NAP
d. Ensure on-page factors are in check (keyword and location within titles, headings, alt, body copy, internal linking and URL…where possible)
e. Optimize off-site properties…namely social media channels and relevant directory listings
f. Build eveergreen content around specific products and services
g. I usually use blog content to build backlinks by way of list posts and roundups. This way I can boost domain authority and use internal links to pass page rank to some of those deeper money pages
h. Make sure its mobile-friendly
Finally, I’ll pull the backlink profiles of my top 5 local competitors and see where (and how) they are getting their backlinks. Then, I’ll try and replicate as many of those links as possible. This is also a good way to build an informed content strategy. See what is working for them, and do it better.
2) Get Reviews
Today’s consumer is very different from a year ago. Direct response marketing is nowhere near as effective as it used to be. Purchase decisions are now heavily influenced by our peers. It’s critical to get as many positive reviews on the bigger review sites such as Yelp, Google Plus, Dex and any relevant industry review sites.
Eg. if you’re a restaurant, you better have some solid reviews on sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon. Review quantity, quality and diversity are local ranking factors and will help your site stand out against the competition in the local packs. This will help CTR.
Make review acquisition a part of both your online and offline marketing strategy. Have a section on your site dedicated to reviews, send emails soliciting reviews, ask customers at the point of checkout. Use a service like Get Five Stars to faciliate this effort.
Don’t pay for reviews and try to keep the velocity of reviews at a natural rate. Getting 10 new 5 star reviews every day will probably get your site flagged. Shoot for 1-2 solid reviews a week.
3) Build A Passive Selling Machine
What are you doing with the 98% of people that hit your site without converting?
The answer should be either:
a) Capturing their email
b) Placing them in a segmented retargeting list
You can use a free plugin like SumoMe to capture leads via popups, sidebar widgets, scroll boxes and more, or use a more robust solution such as Thrive Leads which I’ve used to double my email opt-in rate to over 9% in the last 45 days.
Use FB, Twitter and Google AdWords retargeting to re-engage people with relevant content. For example, if someone reads your post about “best strength training” exercises, re-target them with an ad on facebook or with an in-stream YouTube ad that links back to a squeeze page with a free eBook for best bicep exercises.
I use the Thrive Content Builder plugin to build these pages in minutes for most of clients and personal projects. Once they opt-in have them redirected to tripwire (low ticket offer) page. Sell a product at break even price. Once they purchase you’ve successfully turned a lead into a paying customer.
Then, upsell them with a core offer. For a gym, this could be a 20% off annual membership.
You can automate this process with tools like GetResponse, or another great solution is Active Campaign.
By creating an automated sales funnel you’ll not only re-engage lost customers, but increase purchase frequency and average order value. Create a value loop!
For your local business, there are tons of strategies you can implement online to generate exposure and new leads. However, this is a bit circumstantial; not every local business should do everything.
At Loud Rumor, though, we believe that there are three main things every local business can benefit from if they spend the time and effort in doing these strategies well.
This includes local SEO, review management, and social media marketing. Let’s go ahead and dive in to understand these better!
Local SEO is similar to SEO with one exception… the goal is to not only rank on Google’s first page, but to also get listed in the maps section when users search for local services such as “Dentists in Phoenix.” Everything is virtually the same with the exception for a few local tactics.
The businesses that succeed very well in local SEO usually do so by accident. They work hard to generate leads from so many other places online that it actually helps their local SEO. To break that down, imagine that search engines like Google and Bing didn’t exist, but the rest of the internet did. That’s still a really big place with a lot of opportunities.
You’d probably focus on more places like HealthGrades or ZocDoc if you’re in the medical field, or movers.com if you’re a moving company. You would find listing areas that make sense for your business so you could be in front of people who are looking for exactly what you offer.
Although local SEO has helped businesses succeed, it’s also caused many to fail because they forgot what the ultimate goal was. The goal isn’t to get on the first page of Google, it’s to get more customers. Being on the first page can tremendously help with that, but businesses can also get there by doing all the other little things involved as explained in the blog above.
Google owns 67% of the search market, and that number is expected to climb as Google Chrome has become the preferred browser for the younger generation. Therefore, getting listed on Google can be very valuable. Let’s just make sure we’re doing it correctly so we can get customers on our way there!
Reviews are also very important for local businesses to focus on. Getting listed on the top of the first page is one thing, but being at the top with the best review is a whole other playing field. Two years ago, as long as you were listed at the top of the first page, you would be picked more than anyone around you.
Now, the person in the fifth spot will usually get picked more than the person in the first spot if they have significantly better reviews. Overall, users are looking for the best company and, let’s face it, those review stars really stand out.
The same goes if they’re using other tools like Yelp Angie’s List. They want to find not only a company that can help them, but the BEST company based on what others have said.
People love reviews. In fact, in a Yelp survey, 72% of people said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online reviews get an average rating that will determine if a business is good or bad.
You also get to see what makes up those reviews. If you’re looking for a restaurant, you get to see which dishes people liked best so your very first experience can be awesome.
If you’re looking for a hotel, maybe you don’t care so much about the pool, but rather about being close to the beach. You can look at reviews to see if people hated the long walk to the shore, and which hotels are just a few steps to the beach. The more people that can say great things about their experience, the easier it is for the user to make their decision.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is something that people have to twist their minds around in order to understand what the real benefit is. Many people have no problem spending thousands of dollars to wrap their car or get fliers made just to get their ad in front of people who may hopefully care about it.
However, people don’t see value in spending the same or get their ads EXACTLY in front of the right people. If you think about it, while you’re driving you only see an ad for a few seconds before it’s gone. Very rarely are you going the exact same speed as an advertised car for that many miles. What’s the difference between that fast glance and scrolling in a news feed?
Let’s say you own a catering company and you own a van that’s wrapped. I may not need a catering company if I am an 18 year old simply driving around. However, if I’m a 25 or 26-year-old woman whose Facebook status just changed to “engaged,” chances are I’m now looking for a catering company for the wedding, engagement party, bridal shower, etc.
How great would it be for your wrapped van to be put in front of ONLY those people who need what you offer? Well, that’s what social media marketing does. You’re able to put your advertising in front of people for just as long as you normally would with anything else online, except they have the ability to easily go back and look at your site.
The difference is that you’re only spending money to reach exactly who you want, and it costs significantly less. Really, you can spend as much or as little money as you want to, which just depends on the level of exposure desired.
Simply put, social media marketing is great. You expect is for your brand and name to become more recognizable so that when someone does need a company like your, you are the first to come to mind.
These are just three of many strategies you can implement to help your local business grow. I truly believe that every local business can benefit from these three tactics if they really work to do them right. The internet is constantly evolving and there’s always something new to learn. So keep reading like you’re doing!
For local businesses trying to make an impact online, generating leads and revenue through the internet you can’t ignore the power of local search. Three things I would recommend to nearly any local business would include:
1 – Your Google and Bing Local listings
It used to be Google Places, then Google+ Local, now it is called Google My Business which is probably the most important thing a local business can do online.
You want to sign up for your free account, and fill out your profile to 100%. Include as many pictures as possible and try to include video as well.
In your description you want to include different keywords describing your business, industry and services or products you offer.
If you do this, you have a chance to rank with the local results, often referred to as the “7 pack”. For example, look at this screen shot below for the term Landscaping in Nashville
The businesses that pull up in the local results get a massive increase in click through rate when compared to just the organic rankings.
However, Google isn’t the only one, make sure to check out Bing Places for Business for added exposure.
2 – Citations and Directory Listings
Another important area that can’t be overlooked is the power of citations and business directories. Getting your business listed on these sites can kill two birds with one stone.
The first big benefit is that directories like yellowpages, manta, insiderpages, and others generate a lot of traffic on the website itself. This can lead to more referring traffic to your website and increased opportunity to generate leads. You will want to register and create a listing on at least the top 50 directories and citation sources.
The next big benefit of setting up citations and directory submissions is the fact that it can improve your ranking in the local results. You’ll want to be careful to be consistent with your business name, address and phone number otherwise it can have a negative impact! You may want to read this guide on building citations before you get started.
3 – Don’t Ignore the Power of Video
You don’t need to show your face, or have a fancy green screen and ninja video editing skills in order to benefit from video.
A lot of businesses are utilizing video not just to engage their customers or generate leads directly through the video but to also gain search engine real estate. Take a look at the image below to see a video included in the search results:
As you can see, this is a great opportunity to take up additional real estate in the search results. This benefits you as an additional way to bring in traffic and leads for your business. It also helps by knocking a competitor to the second page of search.
Making a video can be as easy as just taking a few images you have, and creating a $5/mo account with Animoto and adding whatever text you would like to include in the video and upload to youtube. Of course you will want to optimize the title of the video and description in order to increase your opportunity to rank the video.
Take action on these three things and you’ll be sure to get better visibility online and start generating revenue using the internet as an essential marketing tool for your business.
People get so hung up on the newest things. Inbound marketing, content marketing, social media, etc. While they are all very valid avenues for getting business, maybe 1) they aren’t your strong suit, or where you will ever excel, and
2) if the situation is somewhat dire, is the latest trend going to enable you to make next month’s rent?
And so, I encourage people to take a step back, and ask themselves, “what can I be good at today?” Or, “what am I good at period?” A little self awareness goes a heck of a long way.
While the places I am going to suggest aren’t glamorous, exciting or innovative, I and many businesses like mine have been able to put food on the table thanks to platforms like these. Let’s get back to the basics shall we?
I can personally claim to have made over half a million dollars by marketing my businesses on forums. I am in business today, much because in a time of need, I found a forum I at one time, was able to market my very limited skills on.
Forums are the original internet social media, and while they aren’t buzzing like they used to be, they can be super valuable sources of business.
With a bit of digging, you can find forums that may not be big, but are super niche, and lined with folks that are not only willing to buy your service or product, but also able to help you be more successful in your endeavors.
A few things you can do immediately: Be helpful. Look for topics (threads) related to your niche, and offer your expertise (information) at no cost. You’d be surprised how many folks turn around and hire you later on – often very quickly.
A banner in your forum signature can be a super effective way of letting folks know what you do, and how you might be able to help them.
Some forums even have marketplaces where you can advertise your goods or services. Also, spending some time, and putting together a killer guide in the form of a post. There are guys I know that regularly create these guides that are used by folks over and over again, which means eyes, new and old, being exposed to you, and your expertise.
When you are getting started, posting your knowledge on your website is going to get you diddly squat. By leveraging the authority and traffic of a forum, your content stands a chance to be read, and if it’s good, you might get yourself some new leads.
I have a wicked slidedeck on Forum Marketing that I would be happy to mail anyone who is interested: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lots of actionable information to get you started right away.
If you think you are too good for the likes of Craiglist (CL), you’re wrong. Not too long ago, Airbnb got their start using Craigslist, and they will go on to make north of half a billion this year. Today I am exploring how I can use CL to market my product and service (Loganix) to marketing agencies and SMBs alike.
I will start by getting to know where my customer is, tailoring a page on my website, as well as the copy I will use on CL, and then begin some regular testing to see what works in my local market, as well as a couple others. It will not take long to see what bait makes folks bite.
Based on past experiences, I fully expect to make some quick sales right off the bat, and if your presentation is good, you should be able to too – without a lot of work either.
I am admittedly still working on learning how to market my business on Reddit, but so far we’ve had a bit of luck. My first day advertising, my team bought an ad on Reddit for $17. We chose a few subreddits that were relevant, r/seo, r/bigseo, etc.
Further, we came across a marketplace subreddit where we created a thread, got a couple upvotes from past clients and such, and within that first hour, we had sold $1k worth of goods. That same customer went on to spent $1000s more with us.
To promote my agency (The Magistrate Inc), I just decided to start being helpful (similar to what I’ve done on forums), and answer folks’ questions. My handle is my first and last name, and it is not uncommon that folks search me and find our agency, or message me within Reddit asking for help.
While I am yet to put up a consistent effort there, I am certain based on the limited time I have spent, and the number of new projects I have been able to compete for, I am on the right track.
By no means should you not be participating in the newest, coolest thing, but don’t forget the basics.
1. Watch your keywords for local listings?
If the people looking for you use keywords that return the local listings (this is the map with the 3-pack or 7-pack in Google) then you know you need local SEO, rather than traditional organic SEO. This means a tweak to your search strategy.?
a. Listings, not pages
b. Citations, not links.
If you don’t see the local listings for your top phrases, then you can focus on traditional SEO.?
2. Watch your mobile traffic?
Check Analytics to see what percentage of visitors are viewing your site from mobile devices. Typically, local businesses get 25% to 50% of traffic from phones. If this is the case, you need a mobile friendly site. This matters a lot.
??Pull out your phone and take a look. Is the phone number touch friendly for people who want to call? Does the address link to maps for people looking for directions? It should.? Remember, finger tips are 57 pixels wide, so make your mobile buttons big and touch-friendly.
3. Watch your review
A lot of your potential customers won’t start on a search engine or ever see your websites. They’ll jump right into an app with reviews of you and all your competitors. That means you will live or die based on your reviews.?
a. Monitor your reputation carefully. If you see a persistent issue in negative reviews, deal with it before it’s too late
b. Incentivize your best customers to write positive reviews. When you get a complement, it should be instinctive to request that customer write a quick review.
Hand them a tablet and ask if they wouldn’t mind writing the review right there, right now.
Local businesses have very specific needs that need to be handled a bit differently than the bigger businesses out there. They need to get very targeted, local customers which is not as easy to do online as it is offline.
So, one of the tricks I recommend to small local businesses is to bring their offline audience, such as actual visitors to their store, into their online world.
The best way to do this is by getting them onto your newsletter and sending them relevant information and offers, that will not have them unsubscribing in a flash.
Things like discounts, special events, new products related to what they buy and so on.
Getting them on the email list can be a challenge, but if you add this step to your processes it should not be a problem. For example, it could be that their email is just one more field you fill in when you process their first purchase. This is obviously easier for service related businesses.
But if that is not possible for a store selling goods, then maybe you can hold a competition and get customer emails that way instead.
The other key area local businesses should focus on is Local SEO. Finding the relevant keywords for your industry is the first step. Then you need to make sure you have your website and address registered on Google as well. That way your website appears in the local search results and on Google maps too.
Another key part of this is to get registered on all relevant local directories and places like Yelp or Yahoo. It varies from country to country and there are also specific industry directories, so I won’t list them all here. But you should have no problem finding them online.
The last part of that formula is to get reviews. Whether it is on your Google or Yelp listing, or other similar websites, always ask your happy customers if they could give you a review. It will help you rank higher in Google and get your more customers at the same time. Reviews can make or break a local business.
That my friends is how I would approach local business online.
I’ve worked with a couple of local businesses with their websites and here are some suggestions.
1. Create a Strategy that Combines Traditional Marketing with Online Marketing
This local businesses I worked with didn’t do any link building, but instead focused on generating real publicity and awareness of their businesses.
As a result, they got a ton of natural links and didn’t have to worry about link building.
For example, the dance studio I worked with was active in the community and also hosted their own community events where people could showcase their art and music skills. They also were involved in some charity work and non-profit activity.
As a result, they got natural links from bloggers and media without even trying. It was enough to rank in the top 2 for their main keywords.
2. Do Keyword Research and Optimize Your Title Tag
We tripled a local dance studio’s search engine traffic simply by optimizing their title tag for keywords.
We didn’t even add any keywords on the web pages. That’s a good amount more targeted traffic for relevant keywords for this simple change. Most businesses will just include their business name in the title tag. But not doing keyword research and not including these keywords in the title tag is leaving a lot of free search engine traffic on the table.
3. Get People on Your Email List
A lot of local businesses aren’t doing any email marketing, but building an email list is one of the best ways to market to your customers regularly. It’s one of the lowest cost marketing channels available today. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing returns an average ROI of 4,300% for businesses in the US.
When I was working at an SEO agency a few years ago, I spoke with a lot of small businesses about what could be done for them online. Some were excited about the possibilities, and some didn’t see the value in it at all.
Whether they decided to sign up with us or not, I always stressed to them the importance of these three points.
1. Hire an agency
Don’t try to do it yourself. Focus on your own business and hire an agency to handle the online marketing for you.
Believe me, if you can find anyone talented to get your more leads online, it will be worth the money you will be paying.
2. Hire them for only ONE channel
A lot of agencies will try to bombard you with packages. Social, SEO, Adwords, etc. The thing is, you don’t need to be doing everything. You’re a local business with a limited marketing budget.
Focus on only one thing. If it’s SEO, hire someone to do your SEO. If it’s Facebook, then hire someone to generate more leads through Facebook.
What channel you choose will largely depend on the type of business you’re trying to market.
3. Give it a few months
One of the things that many local business owners have a tough time comprehending is the fact that online marketing takes a while to get rolling. Give it a few months before you decide it was a good investment or not.
The great thing about online marketing is that it’s all trackable. Every aspect about your leads are trackable. But it’s tough to expect a giant return on your first month of trials. So give it at least 3 months before you make any decisions about moving forward.
The first thing a local business needs to have is an actual web presence. By web presence I am specifically referring to a website. Not a website their friend of a friend who is in high school setup for them.
I am speaking of a legitimate website designed around your business and the needs of your customer. While you are at it, it’s important that your business website is mobile friendly.
This will allow your business to portray itself in a professional manner to potential customers who come to your website no matter the device they are using.
Remember, first impressions are everything…and if your website is not easy to use and intuitive, chances are they will click the back button and find your competitor.
A website designed and targeted to your customers will allow for a positive and professional experience to take place.
But what good is an awesome website if no one knows about it?
So my second tip is to promote your website through various channels. This will allow others to come across your website. A few channels you can use for this are:
• Local/regional topical websites. Does your business cater? Why not find websites for the local chamber of commerce, wedding venues, hotels, networking groups, etc. Chances are they are always hosting events that could use catering. Look for ways to get featured or mentioned on the website or emails. The local chamber and networking groups will likely be filled with other businesses – which you can expose your company to.
• Get listed in your local online directories – This will help your site/name appear when people search for your service/location
• SEM – Create a geo-targeted pay per click initiative around your core offerings. This should help your website be front and center of buyer-ready searches.
• Identify the social media channels where your potential customers spend time (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) and follow and engage with potential prospects.
In fact, if you are a B2B, you can use LinkedIn Groups to generate leads.
My third tip is to focus on conversion rate optimization. Let’s face it, there is always room for improvement on a website. Fact is that if your website already gets traffic, a poor user experience (see point #1 above) could lead to these people clicking the back button.
By improving your website conversion rates, you can leverage your existing non-converting traffic into more sales/leads. Not familiar with the impact improving your conversion rates have? I recommend checking out Neil Patel’s conversion rate optimization guide.
I have worked with dozens of local brick-and-mortar businesses trying to reach potential clients over the past several years.
While most see a good return on investment from Google AdWords PPC advertising or Facebook ads, there are a few free strategies that I have implemented with great success.
1. Get Listed
Many potential clients will look for your business or your services in more places than a website. Make sure that you have filled out your listings on as many social networks and directories as possible.
A few of my personal favorites are Facebook, Google Plus/Places, Bing Places, Yelp, LinkedIn, YellowPages.com, and your local Better Business Bureau. HubSpot has a great article with links to 50 local business directories. The listings you should prioritize depends on the type of business you own, and where you think potential customers might search for you.
As you increase the number of websites and directories where you are listed, the likelihood that customers will find you will increase. More listings also gives the added benefit of better SEO value for your website.
2. Meet Clients Where They Already Are
It is very likely that your clients are already on social media. While you should add your information to as many networks as possible (see #1 above), you’ll need to focus on just a couple.
In most cases, you can find potential clients concentrated on just a couple social networks. For example, a clothing store would likely find potential clients on Pinterest and Facebook. Each social network has its strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll need to choose the best social media network for yourself and your business.
If your clients are on Facebook, go there and interact with them. If they’re on Twitter, go there. Don’t try to force your clients into your favorite social network. Instead, find where they already are and concentrate your effort there.
3. Test, Test, Test
Above all else, test what works the best. Different strategies will work for different businesses. You may find that directories or social media gives you no return on investment (though I’d be surprised). So instead you could test connecting with potential clients on local forums.
Or maybe your target audience has a weekly #hashtag chat on Twitter. It’s also possible that they are on your city’s subreddit. Whatever the case may be, keep testing. Make sure that you give each test a good run, and if it doesn’t work, move on to the next one.
What three pieces of advice would you give to a local business looking to get more clients from the cyberspace?
1. Stop building lousy websites.
Small businesses are the worst offenders on the web for building really poor websites. Allow me to introduce one I came across yesterday.
These sites don’t need to be works of art or even expensive. But they need to have the right focus. So what should a business owner focus on?
• Minimal Distractions – The site above is a great example. It has so many buttons that are useless.
Here is the bottom line:
People click on “about”, “pricing” and “features/services” pages. If you’ve convinced them that your local business is a good fit they will click on the contact page or they may pick up the phone.
[thrive_lead_lock id=’14525′]Hidden Content[/thrive_lead_lock]
If you have blog posts on the front page, they may click on those as well. No one cares about your company picnic photos.
• Clear Call To Action – Make sure your most important pages are guiding the visitor to the desired goal with large, clear call to actions.
• Generate Traffic – This can be through content marketing, SEO or PPC. But make no mistake, folks don’t just “show up” you need to bring them to your door. When I say “spend” time and money are both valid currencies.
Content marketing isn’t publishing a blog once a week, that’s just content. You’re missing the marketing portion.
• Mobile Responsive – Pretty straight forward, make sure you site is responsive.
2. If you’re not going to do any local SEO, at the very least target micro terms.
For instance, with our brand we don’t intend on link building. We’ve simply found that we can get a better return on our dollar with content marketing because “SEO + City” is so competitive.
Instead, we’ve targeted extremely small terms. So for instance, we’ve targeted “Affordable Web Design Calgary”. Simply make your service page that URL and use it in your H1 tag. Our on-page still has some pretty large holes in it, that we need to address but you can see the basic on-page elements.
3. Decide on the channels you want to focus on.
Yes, you should sign up for FB, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Google+ accounts. However, you have a very finite set of resources. Spending time on each of those platforms and trying to do SEO and re-targeting yourself is a sure fire way to make sure you get results in none of them.
I would pick one social platform to be extremely active on. If you’re B2B Linkedin probably makes sense. B2C Facebook is usually a good bet, although if you are a cook, designer, trainer or artist I would elect to get on Pinterest.
Google + works well for some niches, such as marketing & SEO.
I would then pick one paid platform to work at. That may be facebook advertising, SEO or Adwords.
If you’re a local business and you don’t have a global presence then the most important thing is you have to really think locally.
Firstly you have to understand where your visitors are coming from. Most likely they are finding you via long tail words like Plumbers located in Ashland (with location as a part of it), or they are coming as referral from prominent listing sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Craigslist.
Given that I would work to improve my ranking for these relevant keywords and on the review sites.
I would focus on my current customer base and see what I can implement to increase the number of positive reviews that I have on the listing sites. For example, even a little note on the receipt such as “Please review us on Yelp” may be a small reminder that could convert a few people.
There’s a million of ways to go about this and it really depends on the business, in short, think about the key points where you have your customer’s attention and then strike there.
I would also consider an outreach campaign to local bloggers. You can use NinjaOutreach (full disclosure this is my tool), to find bloggers and businesses locally in your area and reach out to them. This can be used as a means of improving your reviews on the listing sites, or bolstering your rankings for the long tail keywords as we spoke about.
1. Identify how your customers are currently finding you.
2. Solicit positive reviews on prominent listing sites from current customers
3. Incorporate a local outreach campaign to bloggers
#1. Focus on your website visitor’s user experience above all else. With the constant changes in Google’s algorithm, stop chasing “loop holes” and “quick fixes” that try and game the search engine results pages.
Your time is best spent improving site metrics like: time on site, bounce rate, number of pages viewed and loading speeds.
By focusing on these metrics you will find you ultimately end up giving Google what they want and in return you’re rewarded with higher rankings, more traffic and higher conversions.
So, whether your rankings improve directly due to these metrics or there’s simply some sort of correlation – either way, it works! You’re making the internet a better place by improving people’s experience when visiting your website.
#2. Create more web videos! Web videos are still one of the lowest hanging fruits online and for a variety of reasons. Sure they increases your traffic with Google and YouTube but they also improve conversion, builds trust and gives you authority positioning.
I suggest local businesses start by answering some of your their most frequently asked questions in front of the camera. Then upload the short videos to your YouTube and apply basic SEO 101 (choose good localised search terms and put them in the video’s title and description).
Now, when your prospects ask a question, you can say “we have a video that answers that exact question! Let me send you the link.”
It’s a great way to stand out from the competition, duplicate yourself and drive more traffic.
#3. Run remarketing ads to the SEO traffic you’re already getting to your website. Remarketing is simply the process where you tag your visitors and then, using platforms like Google Adwords, YouTube and Facebook, you can display advertising to only that audience. In this way you’re able to follow them around the internet.
It’s the perfect compliment to a solid localised SEO campaign. It’s cost effective and a great way to convert more of the local traffic already visiting your website.
When combined, these 3 strategies will drive more traffic and help you position you and your business as the authority in your local area.
1. The first thing you need to do is make sure your website is optimized. This means more than just having it mobile-friendly. You need to pay attention to Local SEO.
This includes all the bells and whistles like NAP, Citations, On-page SEO, reviews, and of course the standard things like backlinks.
In many cases your competition won’t be doing local seo correctly, so you should be able to beat a lot of them purely by optimizing your own site.
2. As well as local seo, do normal seo. You can rank in Google Places sure, but it’s also good to get the organic listing. This works very well for those businesses that don’t have a specific “place” for people to visit, but instead go out on jobs, like plumbers, roofers, and so on.
This worked well for one of our clients in the flooring industry.
3. Be proactive about outreaching to other blogs and local websites. Put yourself out there and get mentioned in as many places as possible.It can be slow going at first and there might not appear to be much ROI, but it’s well worth it.
Depending on what your business is, you can get the majority of your leads purely from referrals from other sites.
1 – Focus on the right metrics and results, especially in a local market
Local marketing, especially when it comes to lead generation, is about melding the region, with the industry, with real leads that convert.
The issue I see a lot are those businesses looking at pure traffic, without segmenting based on the region, device and other demographics and partitions that could be used.
In other words, don’t try selling a boat to everyone…only sell a boat to someone that needs a boat.
Traffic generation is a rabbit hole of a spiral when it comes to this idea of focusing on the wrong metrics. When you see your website increase in traffic, it ‘can’ be impactful.
However, if this traffic is not interested in your brand, nor your brand message, likely, your bounce rate will go up as quickly as your conversion rates and email opt-in volume drops.
However, looking at various metrics like bounce rate, page load time and user flow, combined with search volume and traffic sources can show you where to focus more of your efforts to find and funnel better, and more affordable, traffic into your doors.
2 – Don’t be afraid of social media, as these platforms can be cost-effective AND productive.
Local business mistakenly uses social media as a form of picture galleries, or as only advertising platforms. Instead, social media is an incredible opportunity to use a cost-effective platform, to reach a very focused audience, and grow those people into a very devoted community.
The issue? A local business, and business in general, when using social media, should focus on information, authority and community over EVERYTHING else. This even includes platforms like YouTube (arguably a playground for video marketing), LinkedIn (“THE” business social media platform) and even platforms like Tumblr and Vine can get your brand messaging across in a simple, affordable way.
In the end, as many, MANY social media consultants and social media marketing experts have preached, focus on the message and the people, not on advertising and selling.
3 – Mobile is a growing importance that you can NEVER neglect
2015 continues what 2014 mirrored off of 2013 swelling back. Mobile usage is up, up, up; in some markets, it is doubling every year.
So it stands to reason, on the heels of Google implementing an update to its search engine algorithm involving being mobile friendly, that mobile is and will be the powerhouse of marketing and lead generation for years to come.
A good first step for making your brand mobile friendly, especially on the lead generation front, is to make sure that you are using a responsive design. I’m not talking about using a logic statement to send people to a ‘mobile-only’ version of your site.
The next step to allowing better conversions with mobile is to simply place your phone number in larger font in your header and make it a text-based link. I notice so many local businesses think having a phone number in an image, and it not a link to anything, works….and the opposite is true.
A last step when it comes to mobile is to experiment with different paid for advertising. Adwords and Facebook Ads the two biggest in the US for various reasons. When done right, and when optimizing your ad funnels for mobile (copy, images, targeting, etc), you’ll see better conversions and more leads.
Combing this with regional focuses and targeted markets (and don’t forget re-targeting existing audiences), can yield a very cost-effective manner of lead gen.
Local businesses are at a huge advantage when trying to leverage the Internet and most don’t realize it. Here’s why it’s so cool to be a local business leveraging the Internet:
1) You already have a product or service that’s proven in the marketplace.
Unlike bloggers, and pure “online marketers” who are trying to make money out of thin air, you actually have something that people have already shown interest in and are are buying (I’m assuming this, but if not, you would be reading the classified ads instead of this blog post).
The great news is that you just have to put it in front of more people and you’ve got more business.
2) You already have a following. There are already people who walk into your business on a regular basis. They have affinity for what you provide and are a great starting place to build a social media following, get reviews on locally focused sites like Yelp!, get testimonials, or otherwise gain traction online.
3) Leverage the tracking online. If you’ve grown your local business primarily through direct mail, telemarketing, word-of-mouth and foot traffic, you know how hard it can be to determine objectively where your business is coming from.
The Internet offers you lots of ways to track where your traffic is coming from. Use them — you’ll love the quality, objective data!
1. Retarget Advertising with Adwords and Facebook Ads
Other than organic search, retargeting is often one of the best ROI opportunities for local business owners. The cost per click is low while CTR and response is high. It’s a dead-simple and low-cost way to leverage current website traffic.
2. Publish Local Info Sites
This method is not often discussed, but a local business could create its own marketing channels by publishing high quality websites about the local area and promote their business exclusively on the site. This is particularly good for local hospitality businesses that can benefit from tourists who often visit these types of websites.
3. Continue Improving Organic Search
There is likely no better ROI than enjoying the top spot in the SERPs for local businesses. Conversion is high because of the perceived quality of the business simply because it takes up the top SERP spot as well as taking the lion’s share of the search traffic.
Of course this tip presupposes the business ranks for keyword phrases that results in new customers and/or clients.
For local businesses I have some non-traditional advice and an interesting strategy to get a lot of great content created inexpensively.
1. Don’t Have Too Polished of a Website – Forgot the professional stock photos and super fancy websites. The websites that provide the highest amount of credibility are ones where there are pictures of real people and their stories.
2. Focus on Conversions – To improve conversions there are only a few areas you need to spend some time on.
a. About Page – This is often one of the most visited pages on a local business’s website and is often neglected. Spending time to share exactly what your story is and how it can help potential customers is key!
b. Contact Us Page – It is amazing how many contact us pages are simply a web-form that doesn’t work. Make sure all information including your email is available for a visitor to see easily. Bonus points if you include a REAL image (NOT a stock photo) on your contact us page.
c. Phone, Email & Address – Have it everywhere on your site. Make sure it is in the header and the footer for easy reference. The purpose of most local business websites is to drive non cyberspace interactions (phone calls, visits etc) so make it easy!
3. Produce Useful Content – Do this in whatever way it is easiest for you but the important thing is to develop a strategy and produce content regularly.
This is not easy, one way to produce useful content is to simply ask everyone to write down every question they can think of a customer or potential customer has ever asked them. Then hire a high school journalism student to come in an interview you or another internal expert answering each question.
Have each video cut up into a short segment, uploaded to YouTube, transcribed and put on your website including the video. With 2-4hrs of your time and no more than $500 you can dominate your competition with useful content!
My first piece of advice is to get on social media. Pick one or two that you’re comfortable with and start there. Start building a following targeting people in specific places.
Post regularly, offering valuable information, free to your clients. Don’t forget to encourage existing clients to join you on social media. This helps create momentum and gives you a base to start with so you don’t feel like you’re having to start from scratch.
Second start blogging or making videos. Find a way to connect with your client base on a regular basis via your website. If you own a hair salon, post quick videos on how to do different styles quickly at home.
Blog about hair products you like or complementary services that your clients might like. Having regular traffic helps with your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and helps to attract new people to your website.
Lastly, start interacting with your clients there. You have the following, now pay attention. It’s not just about posting and giving good information, it’s also about interacting. Respond to comments on your website and social media.
Ask for feedback and comments there. Make a point of encouraging your clients to use it as a way to communicate with you. If you take one to one appointments, set up online scheduling on your website and encourage your clients to use it and look around.
Being consistent on social media and your website will produce regular, consistent traffic and encourage new visitors.
As a local business, you might think that you need a fancy website in order to find more customers online. But you don’t. Here are some super easy, but often overlooked ways to grow your business online that you can implement right now:
Make sure you list your hours of operation online. The number one reason that people will look for your local business online is to check when you are open.
Make sure people find what they are looking for by posting your regular open hours and noting any holiday closures. If you don’t have a website, update your Google listing (see below) with your business hours.
Claim your Google listing. Google automatically creates listings for most local businesses by accessing government databases (for business licenses) and phone listings. As a result, your business likely already appears in Google, even if you don’t have a website.
Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and sign up to claim your existing listing, or add a new one (the service is free). Anytime someone searches for your business name, your Google listing will be displayed next to the other search results so taking a few minutes to make sure the information it contains is accurate is a worthy time investment.
Use email marketing to stay in touch with your customers. Keeping an existing customer – or enticing a previous customer to return – takes less time, effort, or money than landing a new customer. Start a mailing list for your existing customers and then send regular (at least once a month) updates to let them know what is new.
Include special promotions and discounts available only to your subscribers to entice people to stay on your mailing list.
1: Social media is where a local business can REALLY level the playing field with the bigger national companies/brands.
Completely fill out your profiles and remember to always include your logo or picture, location, complete contact information and a link to your website.
Your profile is your elevator speech so be sure to say exactly what you do, where you are located and how you can help potential customers/clients.
Most businesses cannot be active on every social media platform on every day.
But you can have a complete profile at the very least. Experiment with which platform gives you the greatest return for your time, energy and money.
Look at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+ as a start but also search for online communities or forums in your niche.
You can outsource but there are pros and cons to outsourcing social media. Perform due diligence and remember it is your reputation on the line if someone else is “speaking” for you or your company online.
2: Local citations are one of the most important things you can work on. Check out this page on Moz and the page on Whitespark. Keep branding consistent. From profile pictures to contact info, it is imperative that you are consistent.
3: A website is by far the most important part of connecting with online consumers. When it comes to online marketing, think about a wagon wheel. Social media, local citations and everything you do online are the spokes of the wheel. But a website that you own and control should be the hub of your online activity.
Do NOT depend on “rented” property such a Facebook page or social media profile. It is possible that your “rented” property could disappear overnight!
A good domain ( that you own ) and a good one page website is may be all you need. Eventually you may want to add a blog but take baby steps at first by getting the basics right. Done correctly, a domain and simple website with hosting can be less than $100 per year.
My number one advice is blogger outreach and influencer marketing. I believe that partnering with people who have large audiences is one of the best ways to get noticed.
Additionally, I would attempt a very targeted PPC campaign, ideally through Facebook, and keep a tight geography around who I let in.
Lastly I would start content marketing, with an emphasis on longtail keywords involving my local area. I would be collecting emails and try to convert them through an email campaign.
Local business owners should be excited about the potential reach the web provides.
Whether building a better presence in the neighborhood or an extended presence in cyberspace, rather than thinking its a Have To Do this thing or Have To Be that way, consider the possibilities with a Be-Do-Have outlook.
Be Thinking eCommerce: To build a better online presence, have transactions available. You can start building an online customer base with a lead-generating offers such as an eBook or How-To video or article.
Another possibility is to create an eLearning course, combining text-based content, video content, and worksheets. With a course, you can create it once and – if your course is good – continue to build revenue and customers.
Additionally, a subscription-based business model is something you can offer with that includes premium content, coaching, or some package of goods.
Do Short Videos: Videos don’t have to be long productions, and really – shorter can be better. Give away tips, not the farm. The questions you get from your current customers can provide the fodder for your videos. Other videos can include, behind-the-scenes footage, over-the-shoulder tutorials, voiced-over presentations, and short interviews with customers or employees. Keep them short.
Have Current Info: Just about every business has a page on Facebook and Google Plus, though many remain unclaimed. These are often a blank page with an address and a phone number – and an invitation for the owner to claim the business page.
This contact info can become outdated quickly. Make sure to claim your page and keep all your social network business profiles current and accurate phone numbers, address, email info, and hours of operation.
Remember, a local business doesn’t Have To Be everywhere, all the time. However, with these Be-Do-Have practices, a local business will build a better business presence both online and offline.
My first piece of advice is to find out where your customers are hanging out online. Too many businesses want to hop onto the next big social media thing, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google + or even Snapchat.
Just because a particular Social Media Platform is hot and happening right now DOESN’T mean you should automatically jump on the bandwagon.
Find out where your customers are first! If your consumer base primarily uses Facebook, it’s pointless to try Snapchat, your audience just won’t be there, and it’s a waste of precious time.
This will give you the best ROI when dedicating time to any platform.
Number 2: check out your competition. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: There is no need to recreate the wheel! Analyze what your competitors are doing and just turn it up a notch. All too often a business thinks they need to have some unique or brand-new marketing idea, it’s just not true.
If it’s worked in the past for another company chances are it’ll work for you too. Two great sites to check out your competition are SpyFU.com and SEMRush.com. They both a free and paid version; the Free version is enough to get a quick glance and can have you going in the right direction.
A couple of things they will show are what keywords they (your competitors) are ranking for in Google, and if they are running any paid advertising.
Knowing what keywords they are ranking for can help you optimize your website for the same keywords that consumers are actually searching for. Also it will let you know if you might be missing out on by going after a particular set of keywords. Paid advertising can be a great way to get out in front of potential customers right away.
What better way than to know what your comp is spending their ad dollars on, and show up right along with them in the ad space on the search results page.
My final tip is to be consistent! So many times people will stop their effort online, right before they reach the critical mass they need to really gain traction. A great way for your business to stay consistent is to create a content calendar for your online marketing efforts.
This way you are not guessing what you should do every day, you have a plan. This will also help by letting your customers know what to expect from you. If you have it on your schedule to publish a newsletter every Tuesday, don’t skimp, they will come to expect your newsletter every Tuesday.
By being consistent it will keep your customers coming back to your site instilling trust in your brand, giving you more opportunities to sell your products or services.
These are my 3 tips to help local businesses get more clients online. It comes down to being consistent, check out your competition, and go where your customers are. One more thing to remember when getting your presence built up online is that it is a marathon not a sprint; it takes time and real effort!!
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or just want to connect. Twitter is a great place to say ‘hi’ @nathan_rossow , my agency’s site www.YakSEO.com or my blog at www.takingactiononline.com.
(1) Check all your local listings and make sure they are all claimed and accurate. The data gets propagated out to many places online, including Google and other local sites. Use a tool like Moz.com/local to check.
(2) Find out where your competition has a presence, and make sure you also have a presence there. Your competition likely knows where your target market hangs out and you want to be there, also, be it Yelp, Facebook or other sites.
(3) Include a tablet at your checkout counter for people to sign up for your email list or social media profiles.
This will establish an online connection that you can continue, and in turn connections with those customers may lead to more connections from their social profiles, ongoing online discussions that get seen by others, and forward-to-a-friend email shares.
Don’t forget to speak your customers’ language online.
1. Verify and optimise your Google My Business listing
Your website is always going to be your primary piece of online real estate but your Google My Business listing should be next on the list for local search.
A fully completed Google My Business listing establishes trust, showcases your business and motivates action.
According to Google’s research you’re 78% more likely to be viewed as a well-established business and 91% more likely to be viewed as knowing what you’re doing if you have a full listing.
You’re also around 30% more likely to have a potential customer visit, so spending a couple of hours to dress up your listing is well worth it.
2. Optimise your website for local search
Doing some simple local optimisation on your website can have a nice effect on your local visibility quite quickly, although it does depend on the competitiveness of your market. Make sure all your main location landing pages have what you do and where you are in the Page Title (Keyword – Location) and fill out the page with additional location based content.
Include some Schema markup, correctly embed a Google Map for your location and mention some additional local landmarks if possible. If you have any location specific testimonials from clients then include those here as well. Your location pages should be able to stand up on their own as a useful page, so don’t skimp on content.
3. Clean up your citations
The Pigeon algo update from last year may have somewhat downgraded the importance of local citations but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. They still give plenty of helpful signals to the search engines about your business beyond the standard NAP stuff (Name, Address, Phone), which you obviously need to ensure is consistent.
With Google My Business you can’t choose any custom categories but with many structured citation sites you can, so use them wisely as Google will pick up that data.
How you get your clients depends a lot on the business you have. But here are some general tips for how to give your local business some online traction:
1) Research websites for other businesses similar to yours. How is it designed? What do they focus on? How easy do they make it for the customer to buy your product or service?
Use this research to learn what works, and what doesn’t – and to implement this on your own site.
2) Blogs are good, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all for business. A regularly updated blog will help your site index well in searches, but it can also be a time-waster if you’re too focused on always updating the blog and not focused enough on business itself.
Don’t have a blog for the sake of having a blog – unless you can provide really useful articles that relate to your business and will attract new customers.
3) Think about your business model. I have a friend in the cake business who has been dedicating a huge amount of her time to developing her online presence. Although it’s fabulous that she now has a global following, the reality is that most of these people can’t become new customers for her very local business.
So if your business is local, consider how you can either target your local clientele online, or how you can transform global visitors into clients.
My three suggestions:
Set up a blog
Setting up your own blog costs little and, so long as it is easily maintained, is a great way of engaging with your customers (both existing and prospective ones), providing them with updates and creating content that is useful for your search engine presence.
Make use of social media channels
Establishing a presence with a Facebook page can be done in minutes and, if you can establish a healthy following and interested audience, can be a cost effective way of generating new business and maintaining relations with past clients. It can also be an outlet for generating interest in your blog posts.
Similarly, a presence on other social media channels such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest – if used to its true potential – has the capability to bring rewards.
Do email marketing
Don’t overlook the potential of your email list. Again, its compilation and utilisation is inexpensive and yet it can be hugely powerful if used wisely.
Dr. Paul Johnson, Director of The Dedicated Partnership and Editor of www.aluxurytravelbog.com
I just recently started a local web development service in Germany where I live. The first job I did was for a local gardener and I had great success ranking parasite pages for local low competition keywords in Google.
So that would be my first tip to at least utilize YouTube and Slideshare, if possible more third party sites.
Because of this I had to do lots of research on this topic and published a huge, detailed guide on local SEO on my blog. One thing I discovered during this research was Google Business View.
If you are a shop owner I also highly recommend to set up a Google+ local page and take advantage of Google Business View which allows customers to view photos of inside your store.
I haven’t seen many people taking advantage of this, but it’s worth the effort in my eyes.
Last but not least get solid on page SEO in place and add local schema markup to your website. Things like business hours, location and contact information can be marked by using schema.org code.
This will help Google to display the site properly in their results and can also help with rankings and CTR from the SERPs.
If you add some powerful links to the mix you can potentially dominate your local niche. The first page will show a website, a Google+ page, a local result, a YouTube video, a Slideshare all at the same time. In my full guide, I also share a list of 20 suggested parasite platforms to use.
With increasing competition, it seems like it’s getting harder for local businesses to reach customers. But there is plenty a local business can do. Here are some tips:
Get social. There are many ways to target local customers on Facebook. For example, my city has an official Facebook page where members often ask each other to recommend the best handyman, Thai restaurant, hair salon…you name it.
Smart local businesspeople check out the page regularly and when someone asks about their industry, they’ll offer to contact the person for a quote or give them a special deal.
Get local. Today, customers go online when they’re looking for a place to eat, shop or get their cars serviced. But they’re not just on social media—they typically head to search engines first.
Make sure your business is listed on local directories such as Local.com or Google+ Local. Put in as much information as you can about your business—the more detail you provide, the easier it will be for customers to decide whether to give your business a try.
Harness the power of online reviews. Don’t fear a negative online review—the power of positive reviews can far outweigh the risks of one or two negative comments. Get your business listed on the review sites that matter to your industry, whether that’s Yelp! or Angie’s List, and monitor your reviews daily so you can respond to both complaints and compliments.
Boost your SEO. When customers search for what you sell, make sure your website comes up top in their search results by constantly fine-tuning your website’s SEO. Use keywords with local flavor such as “brooklyn gastropub” to attract local customers, or get even more specific with neighborhoods as keywords.
If you’re not SEO-savvy, it can be worth hiring an expert to help out–especially since you’ll be able to see whether his or her efforts are working right away.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship.
Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
1. Get a responsive website. Start a blog. Regularly and consistently give away awesome free information that your target market will be interested in.
Make sure the titles of the blog posts are super-specific, for example, “How Much Does It Costs To Change Your Tyres In Boise, Idaho” – publish blog posts with specific titles and subject matter like that (if you’re a tyre repair service in Boise, Idaho, of course).
Create a free e-book or some sort of gift your customers will find useful and give away that gift through your website in return for their email address.
Collect as many email addresses of your current customers as possible and email your customers and potential customers with more quality info with newsletters. You may occasionally (one in every three) offer special deals to these email lists.
2. Verify your business on Google My Business and put it on Google Maps. Spend as much time as possible adding relevant info and images to the listing.
3. Create listings for the business in every relevant directory. For example, if it’s a hotel, put it on TripAdvisor and other relevant places. Same with the Google listing, spend as much time as possible adding relevant info and images to the listing. Engage with the comments and the people on these sites.
A Facebook Page would be essential for most local businesses. Add quality content to the Facebook Page and your other listings and have as much interaction with the people on these sites as possible.
But it doesn’t end there! Offer your current customers discounts or special deals if they Like you on Facebook, check in on SquareSpace or write a review on a listing site.
Good social media is a requirement in any business today… Especially now that all your customers are carrying a connected device wherever they go.
There are many things you can do with social media grow your business. All share three that I think are must have for everyone:
MOBILE LISTINGS: make sure the people that are using navigation on their phone can find you. Check your Business listing to make sure it shows up when people search for your company name, products, or industry related terms while well near your location.
Use a smart phone to do the search so you can see exactly what your customers will see.
BUSINESS REVIEWS. Check on sites like Yelp to see what customers are saying about you. Be sure to respond in a positive way when ever you can. People will pay attention to how you react even more than what others say.
LISTEN TO CLIENTS. Set a monitor up to watch Twitter, Facebook and other sites that your customers use to post about you, your business, and key terms. The basic Google alerts will work well to give you a daily summary in your email about any time someone mentions you online.
You can also use search to see what questions people have about your business and industry in the live Twitter feed by searching on keywords followed by a space and a question mark.
There are many other ways you can interact to build your presence online and let people know that you’re the kind of business that is prepared to help buyers whether they be using a phone, tablet, desktop computer or coming into your store.
To win more business in today’s digital world you need to provide value, information and support that companies used to charge for – but you have to give it away for free.
By creating helpful content for your ideal customers you attract qualified prospects to your website over and over again.
With so much conflicting information on how to do this properly – where should you start?
1. Choose one thing and crush it
It’s easy to get caught up with all the fanfare behind ‘Content Marketing’ and fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. The most successful online businesses start by honing in on one skill and doing it better than anyone else in their niche.
Find out how and where your customers consume information online – and be there every time.
For example, blogging is an integral part of the success of entrepreneurs such as Neil Patel (KISSmetrics) and Alex Turnbull (Groove HQ). But for you, there may be a more relevant medium to target your customers such as social media or podcasting.
If you choose blogging; get everything you need to know for running a successful business blog here.
2. It’s not about you it’s about your customer
Before making a purchase decision, your customers seek out information online. Your job is to provide the information they need to make that decision – in whatever form they are looking for.
Help them overcome their daily challenges instead of ‘selling’ them your products. Know what information they seek, know how they access that information, and be the one to provide it. If you are continually providing the information they need to make purchase decisions, or solve their problems, they will begin to trust you.
This trust will accrue over time, creating a customer that comes back over and over, and most likely tells all their friends and family about your business.
3. Focus on email marketing
Email is the most effective communication method for growing your business online. This means that growing your email list becomes a priority.
When someone joins your email list it accrues a base level of trust. It brings them into your community, sales funnel and pool of potential advocates. Once you have their candid attention through their inbox, you need to capture their hearts and minds by being generous and helpful. Over time you can use this medium to build trust and nurture these people into customers.
Find out more about growing your email list with this 3-step process.
When it comes time for local businesses and brands to get more clients online, the first priority should be to make sure they have a clean reputation and make it easy for people to find them not only in the search results, but also through social and having their sites accessible on all devices.
1. Make Sure Your Site is Accessible Everywhere – Having a web site and blog is great, but not having them optimized for mobile viewing can be a disaster for your business.
Time and time again we see local businesses, hotels and restaurants losing business because their site doesn’t work on mobile devices.
In the world of local, everyone is already out and about… which means they are likely using their phone to look up your information, menu, coupons and ratings. If your site doesn’t load properly, the consumer will move on to your competition in a matter of seconds.
2. Use Tools to Monitor Brand Mentions – For local and small businesses, a single complaint or review can make all of the difference in the world. While it would be ideal to check every review site, blog and search engine for new mentions of your business or site name, it just isn’t possible.
For times like these we use online monitoring tools to make the process not only much easier, but also automated.
3. Respond to All Reviews – As previously mentioned, online reviews mean everything for local and small businesses. This means it’s extremely important to respond to all complaints, reviews or comments whenever possible. However, it’s not just about knowing who and where to respond to, but also how to respond.
Brands and businesses must respond to each review differently and always try to connect with the reviewer directly and not address the issue in an open forum which could lead to more complaints or unwanted feedback.
The best way for local businesses to take advantage of the internet, is to:
1 – Create a Blog – Most local businesses already have a web site, but with a blog they can create localized content that helps them rank for multiple listings in the search results.
2 – Get on Every Social Network – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram all rank extremely well in the search results.
Setup a social profile for both your personal name and your local business to secure as many page one rankings as possible and also making it easy for people to find you online.
3 – Monitor Your Business Brand Mentions – Whether they like it or not, local businesses are going to be listed on Yelp, Trip Advisor and other review sites. While they can’t necessarily control what is being posted to these sites, they can monitor what is being said and responding when necessarily.
This type of practice is referred to as reputation management, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most needed services for local restaurants, hotels and brands.
1) Act as if you’re a potential customer – One of the most important things when it comes to converting website visitors into actual clients is making sure your website is user friendly.
Pretend your a customer looking for the service you provide and you landed on your website, does the content on the site clearly explain your products and or services? Is your website mobile friendly and easy to use?
If you were a potential customer/client would you understand what you need to do to sign up for the services. It’s not easy or cheap to get visitors to your website, so its important when you go get those visitors to make sure your website is user friendly and easy to use.
2) Don’t be afraid to spend money – Spending a little money on pay per click to determine where the traffic in your industry is will be money well spent. As business owners we sometimes have a bias to what keywords we THINK people are typing in. The truth is sometimes the keywords we have no idea about are the best ones.
Using Google adwords you can run some basic campaigns and get a better idea what keywords are producing traffic. The benefit of Adwords is you can instantly be #1 for a keyword, this will quickly show you the potential of that keyword. Once you’ve narrowed down your keywords you can work on using SEO, social marketing and other less expensive ways to generate traffic.
3) Think outside the box – Sometimes it’s outside the box idea’s that generate the best sources of leads and or traffic. Press releases are inexpensive and with the proper keywords in the title can generate huge traffic quickly. Social media is all about getting people talking, post unique and create ideas will get eyes on your content. Find what your competitors are doing and do it better!
1. “As offline, so online.” This is the key point I make when talking with local business about how to attract clients online. Many of my clients feel overwhelmed by how quickly things change, especially social media.
I reassure them that they have an exact parallel offline! What I mean by that phrase is, just as you market your business offline, so those best and worst practices apply online.
When I see someone posting self-promotional messages on social media, it reminds me of the offline equivalent: the guy who commits networking blunders, by arriving late to the networking event, passes around his cards and darts out early.
Just as offline client attraction works best when you seek to give value first – by creating a relationship and offering something free – so online clients are attracted by sincere efforts, not just to close a quick sale, but to offer value and longer-term relationship.
2. Laser-focus your message. While it’s possible to lead your market, or at least carve out a decent living as the generalist in your town, there is so much competition online that you need to stand out with a niche. Be clear WHO exactly you help (define them as narrowly as possible) and name your area of specialization.
My clients who best exemplify niche focus combined with specialization are a consultant who recruits talented employees for hospitals and a small firm of engineers who specialize in electrification of water facilities.
3. Go for the opt-in. Local businesses value follow-up as a way to close sales. They likely know that months can go by, but you can still turn a lead into a client if you stick with it.
Online, what makes that relentless pursuit so much easier is automated follow-up by email. But that’s impossible (and spam) unless potential clients give permission by opting in. Offer an appealing freebie to get the opt-in and then follow up regularly to move your leads from interest to investment.
One effective approach I did with my clients who are printers was to outline their usual sales conversations with prospects, then turn that into a series of follow-up emails. We gradually shared problems they solve, case studies, tips, their creative portfolio and more – just as they would have done offline, only this time with a purely online audience.
Advice #1: Use Facebook Ads
This one is a no brainer actually.
Facebook Ads give you some neat geo-targeting options that you should definitely try out.
Whenever you release a new product, come up with a special offer or announce a discount – make sure you invest some money into Facebook Ads to make sure your message will reach a lot of people in your local area.
But always remember: people on Facebook are not looking for business deals, they want to be entertained. Thus you have to make your offer look cool so that to make people on Facebook pay attention to it.
Advice #2: Turn your “offline traffic” into leads
I guess most marketers will advise you to launch a website and so some SEO to bring people from the web to your store.
Well, everyone knows that the best customers are those who have already bought something from you.
So my advice is to carefully collect information about all people who visit your store:
• first time visitors;
• repeat visitors;
• repeat buyers.
Ask them for their email address or their phone number and put them on different lists.
Keep in touch with customers in each list accordingly:
• First time visitors most likely need some reasoning why they should pick YOU instead of any other competitors.
• Repeat visitors most likely need a little push towards making their first purchase. This might be a discount or a special offer.
• Buyers only need confirmation that they did the right thing when they’ve bought from you. Offer them free support and a lot of great extra service.
• Repeat buyers are the only people who will be happy to get updates about the new products and services that you offer, so that they could immediately run into your store and get them.
This takes a lot of work, but once you start building relationships with everyone visiting your store, they will inevitably spread the word about you and you’ll get more and more new clients.
In their buying decisions people are far more likely to listen to their friends as opposed to relying on information that they’ve found online:
So before you try to use the web for attracting new people, think of how you can use the web to strengthen your relationships with all these people who already know about you and make them your brand advocates.
Advice #3: Encourage people to talk about you online
Let’s get back to some data on how people make buying decisions.
Here’s an amusing graph:
As you can see, your website is only the third best way to persuade people to buy from you.
The very best one is “recommendation of people you know”, which we’ve already covered above.
And the second best way is “consumer opinions posted online”.
How do you get more of them?
Well, you can simply tie your discounts, promotions and bonus services to making people spread the word about you.
Let’s say you’re running a pizza place. You can announce a discount to anyone, who will post a picture of your pizza to Facebook along with a short comment.
This way all his friends will see that he loves your pizza and they will most likely visit you very soon.
You can also publicly reward people who unlock your Forsquare badges and motivate them to talk about you even more, so that all their friends would see that.
Or, if you’re running a book store, you can make people tweet quotes from the books they want to buy in order to get a discount.
Just think of the platforms that your customers are using and how you can tie your discounts and promotions to these platforms.
Okay, you are running a local business and want to get more clients from cyberspace.
What do you do?
I would recommend starting to…
1. Know your two major constraints in your business
You are running a local business and you want to make money, right?
Duh! An obvious question.
Well, that was just a warm-up question. Now it`s time for the less obvious question.
What are the two major constraints every business have (at least in the start)?
Time and money.
What does this mean?
It means that you should spend as little time as required doing income generating tasks – giving you the biggest ROI (return on investment).
Listen, I didn`t say as little time as possible.
I said: as little time as required.
It`s a HUGE difference.
The next question would be…
What is the absolutely BEST way for you to earn money for your local business?
The answer is to…
2. Focus on attracting the right clients
It`s better to have a great specific solution that solves a specific issue for a specific group of people, than having this general product that will benefit everyone with an average solution.
If your goal was to learn how to cook Italian dinner recipes, you were hiring a coach and you had 3 options:
– a cook with general knowledge and skill
– a cook specialized in Italian general recipes
– a cook specialized in Italian dinner recipes
Which one would you pick?
Yeah, the one with specialized in Italian dinner recipes.
That is why it`s so important to be more specific with your niche market.
If you are having trouble with finding your niche market, you should check out my tips on NicheHacks.com
Okay, you get that it`s important to attract the right clients.
You can`t please everyone, you just want the fraction of the customers that WANTS your solution / service.
In order to attract the right clients, it`s important that you start asking yourself…
The 12 hard questions
1. What are your personal weaknesses?
2. What are your personal strengths?
3. What type of business are you in?
4. Who is your ideal customer?
5. What is your customer`s biggest struggle?
6. Is the customer willing to pay you for solving his/her problem?
7. Do you have a product / service that will be solving your customers problem?
8. What price are the customer willing to pay?
9. Who are your competitors?
10. What makes you different from your competitors?
11. Why should the customers trust and buy from you?
12. How can you get in front of your target audience by spending as little money and time as possible?
For more information on how to attract the right clients, check out my blog post:
Okay, you understand the importance of attracting the right clients?
When you have answered the 12 questions above, it`s time to…
3. Create a free offer that solves your customers biggest issue
It`s time to get subscribers to your email list, which is translated to leads for your business.
Create a product that solves your clients biggest need and give it away for free on your website in exchange for their email.
My concept at www.timemanagementchef.com is all about helping people free up more time and become more productive.
What product did I create to solve my customers biggest problem?
The free eBook “Insane Productivity Hacks” that helps people DOUBLE their productivity in 7 days. Click here to download.
Once you get people on your email list, you should continue to give them a lot of free value, and then occasionally offer them products that will solve their problems.
However, do remember to treat your email list as your most important asset – because it is. You should treat it as good as your best friend, if not even better.
The best way to keep your list happy and make them raving fans is to respect them and give them a lot of great content.
As a local business, it’s important that you embrace internet marketing now! Not tomorrow, not next week. Now.
If you are new to the internet marketing realm, this can no doubt be a daunting task. But rest assured, by taking it step by step, you can build an online presence that not only brings you new clients each and every month, but one that is the envy of your market.
So, what do you need to do?
1. Create an awesome website that can be read by the search engines. Having a great looking website does nothing if nobody visits it. You want to have a website that the search engines can easily read. They need to know what you do, where you do it, and how well you do it!
For an a basic guide of what you need to do to your site, read this post:
• SEO 101: Getting the On-Page SEO Basics
For a more advanced guide, read this post:
• Technical Site Audit: 2015 Edition
2. Once you have a good handle on this, (keep in mind this shouldn’t be a one time thing, but instead a continued effort) you’ll want to work on your local directory listings, often called citations. Start with Google My Business and then move on from there.
By getting listed in the top online directories, not only does it get you more exposure, and in front of more potential clients, but it sends great signals to the search engines about your relevancy and legitimacy.
Not sure where to start or how to claim citations? Read this post:
• Citation Building 101: Claiming Your Business Directory Listings
For a detailed guide on the best citations to claim, read this post:
• Best 50 citation sites
Working on your citations should be an ongoing process, not a one time thing. Yes, your work at the beginning will be heavier, but once you get the most important citations taken care of, then consider allocating 2-5 hours per month at a minimum to fixing bad citations, and claiming new, relevant citations.
3. Create Content, Provide Value.
How do you do this? Let’s consider for a moment a potential client of yours. Most people like to do research prior to purchasing something, especially if it has a high monetary value. What kind of research do they do? They’ll ask questions:
• How much is xyz
• Who is the best xyz in anytown
• XYZ comparisons
• XYZ rip offs
So what can you do? You can be there when somebody is asking these important questions. Think about it, these are ‘buying’ questions. These are the types of questions that people ask online when they are ready to make a decision. How awesome would that be if you can be front and center when they are researching their purchase?
That’s a red hot lead right to your door. To get them, follow the ‘They Ask, You Answer’ philosophy that Marcus Sheridan preaches.
This typically involves blogging, though not always. Blogging is a great way to establish your authority, get your website seen in the search engines, and get visitors to your site. But, you don’t have to do it in a blog. How else can you do it?
Check out this blog post about creating content:
• 8 Ways I Create Content & You Can Too
Remember, building your business online is a marathon, and while you can ‘sprint’ at times (30 blog posts in 30 days), it’s important that you keep a long term picture in mind.
40 expert tips on acquiring new clients for your local business and promoting your local brand on the Internet.
Hope you enjoyed the information and you’re ready to expand your business with this new-found insights.
If you have suggestions, comments or questions, leave them below.