Ready To Do This? (Small Business Local Marketing, That Is!)

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing, Part Seven

After reviewing the first six posts in our series, “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing,” we hope you’re inspired to start getting your local marketing house in order. 

Local digital marketing doesn’t require the big bucks or hours of creative work traditional channels do. But you’ll still want to set aside some resources and get your plan together. 

Follow the steps below to jump-start your efforts.

  1. Answer the questions in our Fast Five-Step Strategy.
  2. Allocate a few hours to get your directory listings, pages, and content in order
  3. Budget some resources upfront to save money later:
    • Consider investing in a location marketing and reputation management platform. Doing so will help you keep track of your listings, social presence, and reputation in the most cost-effective way.
    • Consider working with an agency or partner to optimize your online presence and manage your reputation.

Will you try to DIY your ‘near me’ marketing or work with an agency partner? With the time constraints most small business owners operate under, working with a partner can often lift some of the day-to-day burdens from your shoulders. That’s where an agency partner can also offer a large body of expertise around optimizing your social media and directory profiles for search.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be on the road to optimizing your local digital marketing profile—no matter which approaches you’ll take. 

Revisit Our Series

From the beginning, our series aims to provide business owners, particularly small business owners, with fast, actionable strategies to win and keep more customers. 

The six parts of this series break down as follows:

For those who are patient, we will be creating an e-book of this content for easy reference. If you’re interested in a copy of this e-book, let us know by emailing sales@10-twenty.com, and we’ll put you on our waiting list and ensure you get a copy when it’s ready. 

Thank you for following this series. As always, we appreciate any feedback you may have for us. 

Reputation Management: Keeping Customers’ Loyalty

Welcome to part six of our seven-part series, “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Today’s focus will be on helping small business owners with reputation management. More specifically, on how to handle positive and negative reviews. 

In its entirety, our series aims to provide business owners, particularly small business owners, with fast, actionable strategies to win and keep more customers. 

The seven parts of this series break down as follows:

The last post in our series, “Driving Engagement: Winning Customers’ Trust and Busines,” dealt with strategies to get people to react and convert from your content. Today, we discuss reputation management. 

Let’s jump in!

Reputation Management: Keeping Customers’ Loyalty

According to multiple surveys, large majorities of consumers now trust online reviews as much as recommendations from a friend. And according to an Invesp study, customers are likely to spend 31% more money at a business with “excellent” reviews. According to Uberall’s 2019 benchmark report on reputation management, locations that move from just a 3.5- to 3.7-star rating will experience a jump in conversions (i.e., calls, requests for directions, visits to websites) of 120%.

What does it all mean? As much as many business owners dislike them, reviews matter. A lot.

The three places you’re most likely to be seeing reviews are on review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor), directories (Google) and social media pages (Facebook). According to recent Uberall research, consumers often turn to online reviews of brick-and-mortar stores from customers when researching where to shop. 

Here’s where they look:

1. Google Maps & Reviews (51%)

2. Yelp (36%)

3. Facebook (35%)

4. Better Business Bureau (22%)

5. TripAdvisor (15%)

Instagram, Angie’s List, and Yahoo Local Listings all tied for 6th place with 13% each. Yellowpages (10%) was in 7th place, followed by Foursquare (3%) and Manta (1%).

Many owner-operators feel helpless when it comes to review sites, feeling like it’s impossible to win when people can post negatively about their business. But reviews have a plus side, too. They can be instrumental in four ways.  

  • Reviews will increase your position in search results
  • Good reviews will encourage people to trust your business faster
  • How you reply to poor reviews can also promote trust in your business
  • You can use the information from reviews (good or bad) to improve your business  
Encouraging Positive Reviews

Positive reviews on any primary review site (but particularly in the ones listed above) are vital for your business to move up in search results. That’s because highly rated companies are weighted more heavily in Google’s algorithm than businesses with poor reviews. In addition, while people are usually self-motivated to write reviews based on very good or bad experiences, research shows that when you ask all your customers to write reviews, the majority will be positive.

Dealing with Negative Reviews 

Bad reviews can feel like a shot to the heart of a business owner. They are deeply personal. But they also give you valuable feedback on what issues you may need to address—that you may not get elsewhere. They also add credibility to your positive reviews, as readers may view a profile with only five-star ratings with skepticism. As importantly, instead of having an unhappy customer out there bad-mouthing you with no idea or recourse, with a review, you have the opportunity to make it right—and have others seeing you acting in good faith. 

Responding to Reviews 

According to a recent Uberall study, 65% of consumers believe that businesses should respond to every customer review, whether positive or negative. Therefore, it’s essential to take the time to read, reflect on, and respond to reviews, whether they are positive or negative. However, in that same Uberall survey, when asked if the store responded to their review, two-thirds of survey takers said the store did not respond, and 34% of customers said they hadn’t shopped there since.

Here’s some general advice as you respond to reviews:

  • Respond quickly. 

    According to a SOCi survey, 89% of consumers are open to changing a negative review if the business owner addresses their issue within 24 hours. If you’re not already using reputation management software—which can flag reviews in real-time and let you quickly respond—consider getting one as part of your location management solution.

  • Be ethical and businesslike. 

    Never pay anyone for a review. Don’t coerce, threaten, or try to unduly influence someone to write, delete or change a review. Never be abusive or threatening in response to a review or break terms of services. 

  • Be succinct. 

    Long responses that drag on for paragraphs, or — worse — are even longer than the actual review, will seem like you are being defensive and argumentative. Be short and sweet. 

  • Take it to private messages? 

    If you don’t see a pressing need to respond in public, you have other options. Yelp, Facebook, and many other social media and review sites allow the possibility of direct or private responses. However, remember that public responses DO let other potential customers see your responsiveness in action, so don’t be too covert. On the other hand, a bad review handled quietly may look to observers as if you ignore the complaint, which you don’t want. 

  • Think twice. Post once. 

    Get a second set of eyes on your response before hitting “send .”You’ll thank us later. 

  • Apologize and empathize. 

    In the case of a negative review, reaffirm that you heard what was said by repeating it back, and then apologize for the negative experience.  

  • Be calm, neutral, and de-escalate. 

    As Yelp suggests: “But please be very careful here: if your reviewer perceives that you are being rude, condescending, or disingenuous, there’s a chance he or she could get angry and make the situation even worse.” 

  • Make it right.

    If you can offer a fix, do so. But be wary. Some bad actors will create reviews hoping to be offered something for free. A way to avoid this is to invite the customer to contact you directly so that you can try to make things right for them.

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing

Thank you for reading part five of our series titled “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Next up in our series is our final post, “Ready To Do This?

Driving Engagement: Winning Customers’ Trust and Business

Welcome to part five of our seven-part series, “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Today’s focus will be on helping small business owners with driving engagement with their business on a local level. 

In its entirety, our series aims to provide business owners, particularly small business owners, with fast, actionable strategies to win and keep more customers. 

The seven parts of this series break down as follows:

The last post in our series, “Build Awareness: Helping Customers Find You,” showcased the approaches and networks to use to build online awareness for a local business. Today’s post will focus on driving engagement. 

Let’s jump in!

Driving Engagement: Winning Customers’ Trust and Business

Once you’ve gotten your audience’s attention, you may have only seconds before customers decide if they trust you enough to head to your business. So you’ll want to be sure that the sites and listings they find have everything they need for driving engagement and, ultimately, helping people decide to go with your business. So it helps if you offered them the easiest way to turn that decision into a purchase. 

Here are some ideas for winning customer trust and prompting them to purchase: 

Content Strategies
Add exciting content

Use content in your listings that anticipate potential questions from customers: such as opening hours, promotions, menus, services, and wait times. Google notes they have seen a 55% growth in mobile searches for “menus” over the past two years, and mobile searches for “wait times” have grown 120% over the past two years.

Add images, video and interactive elements

Listings enhanced with photos, videos, and other visual content outperform non-enhanced results. 

Post frequently

Keep your social pages and directories fresh and up-to-date. Ideally, you will want to be posting to a platform like Facebook or Instagram once a day or 3x a week. 

Link to other content

Do you have a blog or video channel? Were you featured in a local article or website? Crosslink your content across your profiles and pages to ensure people can find out more about you. Be sure to include your website and social handles on your directory listings.

Reviews

Reputation management is one of the most important ways to win trust. See below for a breakdown of our advice on managing online reviews.

Conversion Strategies 
Include CTAs

Calls to action (CTAs) enhance the content of the listing for search—they also help you turn your listings into direct engagement with your potential customers. A few clickable CTAs every business should consider (if they are available in the directory) are:

  • Website link
  • Clickable phone number
  • Click for directions
  • Easy reservation or appointment link.
Email

Some businesses will also collect emails—usually through online forms or offers—and follow up with a customer who shows interest. Email addresses are beneficial if you are trying to establish a client for a long-term business relationship or sell a big-ticket item. Email marketing can be one of the most potent tools a local marketer has, be sure to follow the many laws and best practices that govern it. 

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing

Thank you for reading part five of our series titled “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Next up in our series is “Reputation Management: Keeping Customers’ Loyalty.

Build Awareness: Helping Customers Find You

Welcome to part four of our seven-part series, “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Today’s focus will be on helping small businesses build awareness of their business through local search. 

Our series aims to provide business owners, particularly small business owners, with fast, actionable strategies to win and keep more customers. The seven parts of this series break down as follows:

The last post in our series, “The Fast Five-Step Strategy,” outlined some of the questions you should ask yourself before starting your strategy build. Today, we delve into how to build awareness of your local business. 

Let’s jump in!

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing, Part Three

Build Awareness: Helping Customers Find You

When people are looking for businesses like yours, how can you be sure they find you when they search online or on smartphones? Here are the channels you need to be thinking about to be sure people know you’re out there:

Directories, Apps & Maps 

Directories are a simple, inexpensive way to ensure your business shows up when local customers look. Apps, Maps and GPS tools—like Google Maps—pull their data from online listings such as your Google My Business page, so it’s essential to start there to build awareness of your location. 

Consider the following:

Add your business to online listings
Are you on the correct listings and directories? First, add your business to the most visible online business data platforms. Sometimes those might be industry-specific directories—but more often, you’ll want to focus on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook and similar sites. While this might seem quite complex, a location marketing platform can make it simple.

Keep NAP data accurate
Be sure your location’s name, address, and phone number (abbreviated NAP) data is consistent, accurate, and complete on your local business listings. NAP is the primary data that search engines—and customers—will use to locate you. Again here, using a location marketing software partner can ensure consistency and accuracy across channels.

Remove duplicates
You should never have more than one listing (per location) per directory. Having multiple listings on a single platform for a single business location can confuse customers, especially if they contain variant information. Instead, use location management software that will seek and destroy problematic duplicate listings.

Add categories, tags and structured data
Google My Business listings let you add business categories to your listings, like ‘accounting’ or ‘women-owned.’ You can also add tags and attributes, like ‘parking lot’ or ‘wheelchair accessible.’ Select all available and appropriate tags, so you show up in searches where people look for them. It’s essential to get this right. For example, when you do a local search for ‘cafe’ or ‘coffee,’ the results may be entirely different—even though at least some cafes should also show up for coffee. Be sure to include the language your customers might be using to search.

Plan for voice search
According to Google’s most recent data, 1 in 5 mobile searches are voice searches. That number is growing fast, but an Uberall study found that only 4% of businesses have voice search-ready listings. Be part of that group, and you’ll gain an advantage with it comes to searches made by Siri, Alexa, Google Voice, Cortana, and other voice assistants. 

Claim Google My Business listings
Because Google has 90% of web search volume, you must claim your business there. Therefore, your GMB profile should include data and information relevant to your business, like business category, description, name, address, phone number, website, hours, and other vital details. 

Create an insurance policy for your listings management
We recommend managing GMB and other listings through a listings management system to keep them up to date and consistent everywhere and remove the hassles of having to remember where they all are when something changes. 

Social media

Here’s a short overview of the major social channels and how to determine whether they’re suitable for your local business:

Facebook
Despite some shifts in the market, Facebook remains the top social media channel for brands and local businesses: 72% of user engagement and 66% of brand-related impressions happen on Facebook location pages (the enterprise equivalent of local business pages). Even if you’ve got a great website, don’t neglect Facebook; customers will leave reviews here, and they will reach out to have issues resolved. Facebook reviews also show up in search results and strengthen awareness of your location. Make sure to claim and populate your local page with content and check back regularly for messages.

Twitter
Twitter is generally not a meaningful channel for local businesses, although exceptions exist. So unless your customers are big on tweeting, this is one you can probably sit out.

Instagram
Also owned by Facebook, Instagram is a social channel many businesses may want to consider, especially where visuals are an essential part of the product or service experience. Restaurants have a significant presence on this social platform, in addition to hairdressers, artists, and other creatives. 

YouTube
Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google. And YouTube can be an excellent platform for local marketing and “storytelling.” Many consumers consult it for video reviews and tutorials. Many “how-to” searches on Google wind up with YouTube results, which creates an opportunity to build awareness for your company or service. YouTube also makes it easy to embed videos on other social media platforms for broader reach. Watch the comments for information on your customers.

Yelp
Yelp business listings often rank highly in Google for local searches. While Yelp is typically not considered “social media,” in the same sense as Facebook, it is a place where people read, comment and seek recommendations. You may not think you have a Yelp listing, but chances are you do. So be sure to claim it and keep an eye on your reviews—responding where appropriate.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is primarily a business-to-business (B2B) social network, but for professional services businesses—such as attorneys, consultants, realtors, or accountants—it certainly can be helpful.

Other Platforms
There are many different platforms to consider, depending on where your customers may be congregating: Nextdoor, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok and more. Google My Business also has a “Q&A” section, which is not a “social network” but should be monitored. Ask or survey your best customers about their sites to get a better sense of where you might want to focus your attention. 

Search marketing  

Search marketing is an industry term with two aspects, SEO and SEM. Generally, it refers to the effort to help businesses rank higher in search engine results. For most people, “search engine” means Google, the starting point for 90%+ of all online searches. However, Bing and, increasingly, Apple Maps generate meaningful traffic to websites and map listings. So don’t neglect them. In addition, your presence on Yelp and some social media sites can also help deliver more visibility for your business in search results. 

Organic SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to how high your business ranks in the non-advertising area of search results. Many factors affect your search rankings. At the highest level, Google tries to find the best answer or match for the searcher’s question or query. There’s an entire field of digital marketing devoted to SEO, but Google advises companies to create engaging, relevant content on their website, which should also render on smartphones. A blog can help with SEO, as will links from other sites referencing your business or content. 

Paid (SEM)
It can take time for SEO to work, and sometimes it can feel impossible to earn a spot on the first search results page. Another way to get in front of customers when they search online is by paying for it. Paid search or “pay-per-click” advertising is another digital marketing discipline and the primary way Google makes money. As you may already know, companies bid on search terms customers might use to find a business (i.e. salon services or Thai restaurants nearby). The highest bidder’s ad will appear at the top of the page, followed by two or three ads in the same category. Google is trying to make it easier for local businesses to succeed with paid-search ads; however, it can be time-consuming to develop expertise. It’s worth consulting with a trusted expert about how to start using paid search. 

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing

Thank you for reading part four of our series titled “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Next up in our series is “Driving Engagement: Winning Customers’ Trust and Business.

The Fast Five-Step Strategy

Welcome to part three of our seven-part series, “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Our series aims to provide business owners, particularly small business owners, with fast, actionable strategies to win and keep more customers. Today’s article will help you understand the Fast Five-Step Strategy, which will set up our next four posts in this series. 

The seven parts of this series break down as follows:

The last post in our series, “Five Benefits of Local Listings Marketing & Five Risks of Ignoring Local Listings Marketing” outlined some excellent reasons to take advantage of a local listings strategy. Today, we look at some questions you need to consider before you jump into strategy development. 

Articles 4 through 7 will detail the approach you should take. 

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing, Part Three

The Fast Five-Step Strategy

Now that we have made a case for why it’s so important to think about local listings and ‘near me’ marketing, let’s set up the advice coming in the rest of this series. Over the next several posts in this series, we’ll focus on how small- and medium-sized businesses can leverage this untapped marketing approach to grow the business. 

Our series will answer these five points:

  1. Help customers find you
  2. Make customers like you
  3. Get customers to buy from you
  4. Encourage customers to recommend you
  5. Get customers to come back

The first thing to do is to build a strategy around those objectives. And that doesn’t have to be some crazy complicated undertaking – just a quick sketch of where you want to go and how you want to get there. But you do need to map that for your own business and neighbourhood.   

Here are five questions to consider. The answers you give will become the basis of your fool-proof strategy for local digital marketing:

Step 1: What are the goals you want to achieve?

You won’t get anywhere if you don’t have a destination. And you can’t map success unless you set a specific goal. Whether it’s a straight revenue increase, adding X amount of new customers, or tracking how many people you are engaging with on your digital platforms – be sure you identify exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to measure success.

Step 2: How will you attract the attention of potential customers?

When they are ready to buy, this is all about being where your customers look. So identify where you want to focus and ensure your business is always front and center.

Step 3: How will you win the trust of potential customers?

Once they know you exist, you still need to convince customers that your business is the right one for them. In our posts to come, we offer some ideas for winning the trust of potential customers through great content and reputation management.

Step 4: How will you turn that trust into sales?

We call this ‘conversion’ – or turning online interest into real-world purchases. We’ve got some ideas for how you can do that coming up in this series. 

Step 5: How will you keep customers’ loyalty once you have them?

Finally, how will you keep customers happy once you win them over? And how can you leverage those satisfied customers to win even more business?

Now that you’re thinking about these questions, our series will continue in our next post with some actions items that will help you deal with your answers. 

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing

Thank you for reading part three of our series titled “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Next up in our series is “Build Awareness: Helping Customers Find You.”

Five Benefits of Local Listings Marketing & Five Risks of Ignoring Local Listings Marketing

Welcome to our series titled “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” This seven-part series aims to provide business owners, particularly small business owners, with fast, actionable strategies to win and keep more customers.

Part One is already available; you are now reading Part Two, “Five Benefits of Local Digital Marketing & Five Risks of Ignoring Local Digital Marketing.”

The seven parts of this series break down as follows:

When we last left you, we talked about how powerful ‘near me’ search is for local businesses and pointed out how to save time and money with local digital marketing strategies at the forefront. 

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing, Part Two

Five Benefits of Local Listings Marketing

Good local and location marketing is like a bat signal for online and mobile search engines—putting you right where those customers are looking when they decide to buy. Here are five of the benefits of investing in your local marketing strategy and creating strong ‘near me’ customer experiences:

  1. Name recognition

    Your business needs to be on the top of the list, whether a customer searches for you by name or something you offer. Optimizing for local search ensures that a customer won’t miss you if you’re close to them when they execute their search.

  2. High volume foot traffic and calls

    More than 3/4 of people who create a ‘near me’ search on their mobiles visit a related business within a day. Populate all of your online listings with your accurate address, hours, and phone number so customers can click to call you or get directions, and you’ll be ready to turn those online searchers directly into walk-in customers.

  3. More sales

    Google research shows that ‘near me’ customers are more ready to buy—with 28% of searches resulting in a purchase. So if you are poised to capture those mobile searches, you will win more customers who will purchase today.

  4. Better word-of-mouth reputation

    82% of adults in the U.S. say they either “almost always” or “sometimes” read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time, and according to the LSA, reviews are the “most important” influence on purchase decisions. You’re leveraging an opportunity if you’re using local digital marketing to boost your reputation and showcase your reviews.

  5. Competitive advantage

    One in three local businesses is not even trying to win local business through Google—never mind on other tier-one directories, apps and maps that could be optimized. Focusing on local search lets you claim the business your competitors are leaving on the table.

Very few small- or medium-sized business owners have figured all of this out—so you’ve got a real opportunity to expand your scope. And it’s not just about data management or technology. It’s about using the tools customers already trust to extend the human element of your physical locations, meeting customers earlier in their journey, and winning their business before they ever step through your door.

Five Risks of Ignoring Local Listings Marketing

Local business owners can’t afford to pass on local digital marketing. Here are a few of the risks of ignoring this critical channel:

  1. You will be invisible

    Your location doesn’t exist if your listing doesn’t appear when a customer searches for a business near them. According to Uberall research, 82% of searches are ‘unbranded’—meaning people are looking for what you offer but not by name. Every ‘near me’ search you don’t appear in is a lost opportunity to make a sale.

  2. You won’t control your business information

     Just because you aren’t managing your online listings doesn’t mean someone else isn’t. Whether well-intentioned or malicious, people may be changing your online information or confusing your customers. A solid local marketing game ensures you’re in charge of your data and listings.

  3. Your reputation may suffer

    Nearly 70% of customers use social media to help resolve customer care issues. If you aren’t actively monitoring and responding to reviews and online communication from your customers, you risk harming your reputation instead of helping it. (You can also learn many other things to improve your services and reputation from reviews.)

  4. You may be a blank slate

    When researching where to shop, customers use online reviews and listings to decide, including Google Maps & Reviews, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’re not active on these review sites and directories—claiming your listings, monitoring reviews and having skin in the game—customers may determine there’s not enough information on you and give you a pass. Active, populated listings and profiles and good reputation management are the keys to winning customer trust.

  5. Your competitors may snap up your customers

    When a local customer looks for you and your listings are not optimized to capture their attention, they may be seeing your savvy competition instead. Prevent a local rival from moving in on your sales by creating bulletproof listings that will grab the top search spot.

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing

Thank you for reading part two of our series titled “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Part One, “Near Me’ Marketing is Your New Superpower & Save Time and $$ with Local Digital Marketing was originally published on February 22, 2022. Up is next Part Three, “The Fast Five-Step Strategy.”

‘Near Me’ Marketing is Your New Superpower & Save Time and $$ with Local Listings Marketing

Welcome to our series titled “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” This seven-part series aims to provide business owners, particularly small business owners, with fast, actionable strategies to win and keep more customers.

This series will be broken down into seven parts as follows:

Let’s jump in with part one!

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing

‘Near Me’ Marketing is Your New Superpower
In The Days Before Search

In the old days of marketing, advertising and promotion were like kryptonite for owner-operated businesses. It was a waste of money to use broad-reach channels when trying to reach local customers, and offline directories were cluttered and hard to use. Even if you wanted to go big, most small or medium-sized business owners couldn’t compete in traditional broadcast or print. And to make it worse, it took hours to manage on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis—with only a trickle of customers to show for it.

Times have changed. 

In The ‘Near Me’ Days of Search

Now, when customers want to find a local coffee shop or personal training services ‘near me,’ they open online maps, apps and search engines. They look for ratings and reviews to make their decisions. They look at inventories, services and menus online to see if you have what they want. Then, they make reservations or appointments right from your listing—or click to call or get directions to your door.  

This ‘near me’ way of shopping may be relatively new, but it is incredibly beneficial to local businesses. It puts you on the same level as the big guys with less time or effort. So when someone searches for “hair cutters nearby” or “pizza near me,” your business could have just as big a flag on the map as any national chain. 

Your Natural Advantage

But it’s even better than that. You can gain an advantage over big brands and local competitors if you play it right. Your business is already pre-tailored to appeal to your local customers—so it’s easy to optimize fast, with local content, listings, and stellar reviews right from the neighbourhood that will capture local customers’ attention in a single bound. A little upfront effort on ‘near me’ can vault you past the competition—big and small—to the top of search and map results. Owner-operators have a head start in the age of ‘near me.’

It’s a huge opportunity—and a real superpower if you know how to leverage it. 

That’s where this guide comes in. Use it to help you build a ‘near me’ marketing strategy that works, and you can finally focus your marketing time, effort, and dollars where they will drive the most customers to your door. Interested? Read on.

Save Time and $$ with Local Listings Marketing

We weren’t kidding about the superpower thing. The right kind of effort upfront on ‘near me’ marketing can result in significant returns that will save time and money and make you feel heroic.

The Stats Tell The Real Story

You don’t need X-ray vision to see how important digital location marketing has become for local businesses in the past decade. Online searches are leading directly to offline sales. Look at some of the statistics:

  • 91% of consumers use search to find business information locally.
  • 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day. And 28% of those searches result in a purchase.  
  • According to Google, “near me” mobile searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” have grown over 500% in the past two years, and we’ve seen a 900% growth in mobile search for “__________near me today/tonight.” 

That’s because smartphones, laptops, tablets, GPS and voice assistants like Siri, Google and Alexa have transformed how your customers buy goods. Most of today’s shoppers and clients don’t turn on televisions, read newspapers or open yellow pages to find local businesses. Instead, they pick up their phones and search. And then they buy.

An Equal Playing Field For Small Businesses

Local businesses don’t need to break the bank to use ‘near me,’ either. You can finally compete on an equal playing field in online digital marketing because location marketing doesn’t require an astronomical budget or dedicated headcount to manage. 

A single owner-operator with a strong location marketing and reputation management platform can do the job in only a few hours a week—less if you have the help of an agency partner or tech platform. And a ‘near me’ marketing strategy can keep your business at the top of search results and win more walk-in customers—all without breaking a sweat.

The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing

Thank you for reading part one of our series titled, “The (Small) Business Owner’s Guide to Local Marketing.” Part Two, “Five Benefits of Local Listings Marketing & Five Risks of Ignoring Local Listings Marketing” is up next!

Four Reasons Why You’re Having Trouble Attracting Traffic to Your Local Business

Have trouble attracting traffic to your local business? In-store shopping and the local, small business industry are changing. But these institutions aren’t going away anytime soon. And change certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t generate more revenue through in-store sales. As more and more businesses open each year, though, competition for consumers gets tougher and tougher. So it’s important to stand out from the crowd to earn your share of traffic.

But what if your store is still having trouble attracting traffic? Here are four reasons why you might be having trouble – and how you can change that for your local business. 

Your Local Business Doesn’t Stand Out From The Crowd – Literally

Do people notice your business, and what you’re offering when they walk past it? On a busy Saturday morning when the streets are bustling with foot traffic, are folks stopping to come into your store?

If not, consider setting up a sandwich board or creating window paintings that catch the eye and highlight your sales. Maybe even consider putting some product on the sidewalk so it’s immediately visible. Nothing says “we sell bicycles” like a string of bikes on the sidewalk.

Your Target Audience Doesn’t Know About You

You have great products? Great. Your store is beautiful? Even better. Does your audience know about you? Aha! If your audience doesn’t know about your store, they can’t come in and buy from you. 

If you have a great understanding of who your ideal clients are, reach out to micro-influencers (influencers that are typically hyper-focused on local). Find ones who have a similar audience, and invite them into your store for an event or collaborate with them for exposure.

Learn more about working with influencers for local businesses here.

Your Google My Business Listing Isn’t Set-Up Properly And/Or Optimized

Google might show your business to people searching for local stores like yours (on Google and on Google Maps). To ensure that they do, make sure your Google My Business (GMB) listing is set up properly. Include your name, address, phone number, hours, and photos of your business to ensure people know exactly what you offer.

Once your business listing is set up and optimized, Google will be more likely to show your listing more often. Add Google posts to your listing, a keyword-optimized description and encourage reviews, and Google will present your listing even more often. The more your listing is exposed, the more visits you’ll get to your store and website, and calls too. Yet another reason it’s so important to have that Google My Business listing up to date!

You Don’t Have Instagrammable Spaces

Want your local business to gain popularity? Create Instagrammable Spaces within your store. This doesn’t mean your entire local business has to look like an influencer’s Instagram page. It means creating a space within your business’s location that people will want to take and share pictures from. Doing so is a fast and easy way to get free exposure via user-generated content.

Examples can be fun, bold printed wallpaper with a neon sign, a bright seating area, even coffee mugs with fun quotes if you’re a cafe, for example. Anything that visitors will want to take a picture of can be an Instagrammable space. And the exposure will be sure to drive traffic to your location. 

Stop having trouble attracting traffic to your local business! Small business hasn’t died with online shopping – if you’re able to generate foot traffic to your local business, you can continue to grow year after year. And we’re sure you have some ideas that aren’t on our list. Feel free to share them in the comments below!

If you’re looking for a customized marketing strategy for your business, book a free consultation and let’s chat.

Types Of Business Directories That Make Your Local Business Stand Out

One of the best ways to expand your online reach is through optimized listings using different types of business directories. While Google My Business is one of the most popular ones, it’s certainly not the only directory nor is it the only type of directory. Directories come in a number of forms.

Different Types of Business Directories

Here at 10|20 Marketing, we work with a number of different types of business directories, including:

  • Search: Search engine directories (like Google and Bing) are most important. This is because the majority of people are still turning to them when executing local searches. 
  • Social Media: Social networks and apps were created to connect people and businesses around the world with similar interests. They offer businesses the opportunity to not only be found by potential customers but to engage with them as well.
  • Maps and Navigation Services: Navigation services help users get from where they are to where they are going. But have you ever noticed how when you search for the business, you’re served up similar recommendations or see other businesses near where you’re headed? That’s only possible with business listings.
  • General Publishers: General Publishers are business directories in and of themselves. These are not necessarily tied to navigation systems, though consumers may be able to find directions through them.
  • Aggregators: Aggregators are sites that pull information from the larger players – like Google My Business – and display that information on their own site.
  • Voice Search: Voice Search services are search engines that operate through voice recognition. Siri or Google Assistant are examples. 

A smart directory listings strategy can help you stand out from the competition and be more readily found in search results. How?

Common Information For Different Types of Directories

The majority of searches for local businesses, products, or brands start with the ‘Near Me’ feature on Google. The best way to appear there is to have an optimized directory listing. These listings are crucial to getting in front of customers looking for what you offer, and it’s critical to deliver to them all of the information they are looking for.

This includes:

  • Your location address
  • Business hours
  • Website
  • Products and services
  • Phone Number, and
  • Updates and Images

But just because your potential customer is searching through Google doesn’t mean that having a listing on Google My Business is going to be enough to get discovered. This is where you can use a consistent, complete listings management strategy to stand out from the competition. List your business in more places, and be rewarded by Google (i.e., appear at the top of the search results).

Remember, though, your customer’s journey doesn’t just take place on one platform, So you’ll want to be wherever they’re searching. So we recommend that you find the most relevant directories for your business and claim your business on all types of business directories. Business directories are powerful, but only if you’re actually present on them!

Of course, your listings also have to be consistent. Conflicting information will confuse Google (and your potential customers) and will push you down the search rankings. 

We understand that it’s a daunting task for busy local business owners, so we’ve partnered with Uberall. Our partnership brings you a Listings Management service that takes care of this for you at an affordable monthly rate. All you have to do is provide us with your business information, and let us manage the rest for you.

Book your free consultation today and let’s chat. 

Antoine Marchand of Uberall Breaks Down The Importance of Business Directories

We recently sat down with Antoine Marchand, our Customer Success rep at Uberall to chat about the importance of a digital presence for local businesses – including directory listings like Google My Business.

Uberall provides many tools and services to support local businesses through their partners, helping to manage their customer’s customer experience. This includes the user’s online presence and reputation management, among other features. Uberall also helps ensure their client’s information is properly disseminated to Google, Facebook, and other key online directories and platforms, while gearing each specific listing to the business’s environment, location, and industry, as not every online directory is right for every business.

Antoine has been with Uberall for three years now, coming over to the company when they acquired SweetIQ. Today, Antoine is an expert at helping ensure customers receive the guidance they need to properly navigate the different features available to them through the Uberall platform. So who better to chat with about online marketing for local businesses? We wasted no time jumping in.

The pandemic’s effect on local marketing

Over the past five years, the pace of online marketing for businesses has increased. And that’s even more true over the last year and a half, thanks to the pandemic.

Every business, large or small, recognized how critical it was to use digital tools and technology to acquire, engage, and retain customers,” Antoine explained. “E-commerce in all its forms, including online ordering with in-store/curbside pickup, grew significantly. Retailers also finally recognized that digital and physical retail are not two separate things, but part of a single, larger customer experience. That’s been one of the biggest changes. Customers are entering a singular user journey. Before, marketing was much more siloed.”

It hasn’t just fallen to local businesses to keep up with the changes, however. As business directories became much more important in helping get up-to-date (and often changing) information to consumers, those directories had to adapt as well.

Directories had to make it much easier to update business hours, and Google My Business specifically added new attributes, including curbside pick-up, and the option to add a COVID-19 update, among other things. 

Looking beyond directories is also important

Beyond directories, though, business owners need to focus on the overall “customer experience,” says Antoine. With online marketing (as with traditional marketing) the overall focus needs to be on the customer experience. Ask yourself:

  • Will you be found when and where your customers are searching? 
  • Do you have a sufficient number of reviews? 
  • Is your site fast and easy to navigate? 
  • Can customers easily get in touch with you to get their questions answered?

“Consumers value convenience and business owners need to provide that convenience across multiple channels – where the customer is looking,” said Marchand. “It’s quite challenging. The ‘customer experience’ is the sum of all these things [mentioned above]. Online is where customers will encounter a business first in most cases. That first impression – often on Google – is essential. But the information customers discover must also be sufficient to answer their questions.”

Bottom line? Marketing for local businesses has become a Digital First endeavour.

While you should be present and active on a number of business directories (and Antoine says you should have a full directory line-up), Google My Business is a great place to start.

“Everyone’s reaction is to open the phone and map the business location, and usually it’s from within Google,” said Antoine. “It’s a strong place to start. The world of directories and apps is always changing, but the need to have business data distributed to all the right places remains consistent.”

He offered these finals words of advice for local businesses:

“Ensure your processes are properly set up. Be consistent, be patient, and enable yourself to have success in the future.”

Full disclosure: 10|20 Marketing is an Uberall partner, specializing in helping smaller businesses gain access to this award-winning platform they otherwise would not have enough locations to qualify for. Ask us for a free consultation to understand how this platform can benefit your local business.