Local online marketing, or digital marketing, is one of the best ways for a brand or business to connect with potential customers using digital communication or the internet.
If you run a local small business, you need to begin working on coming up with the best online marketing strategies if you haven’t yet.
Marketing your business online involves social media, web-based advertising, email, directory listings, SEO, and more.
It is ideal to use the help of a digital marketing agency or company for local online marketing services, as these professionals can find ways to jumpstart your digital marketing efforts.
Research shows that 76% of consumers look online for business information before visiting a store or hiring services.
So, if you want to be sure that your local business can get in touch with potential local customers, take advantage of every opportunity digital marketing offers.
Of course, there are ways to do this independently, so we will dive deeper into local online marketing and all the basics you need to learn in this article.
What Is Local Online Marketing, and Why Is It Important?
Digital marketing, according to Mailchimp, is any form of marketing that uses an electronic device to promote a business.
Some examples of online marketing include:
- Online videos
- Display ads
- Search engine marketing
- Paid social ads
- Social media posts
- Articles and web content
- And many more
On the other hand, traditional marketing includes marketing methods such as magazine ads, direct mail, television advertising, billboards, and more.
Take note of the word “local” in our topic for this article.
Online or digital marketing can cover various topics and reach nationwide and worldwide audiences.
Local businesses need to utilize local online marketing to reach local customers.
Local marketing means that you are targeting customers in your local area.
For example, suppose you run a local plumbing business that serves customers in Los Angeles, CA, and the surrounding areas. In that case, local online marketing must target customers within these areas.
A local customer looking for a plumber will likely look for a local business nearby that can serve him promptly.
The History of Local Online Marketing
Back in the day, homeowners usually picked up a directory book or dialed 411 to ask for a local business phone number.
Today, most people would go to Google, look for the product or service they need, and choose a local business.
Although this may seem new to some of us, digital marketing started in the 1990s, even before Google came in 1998.
Business owners found that digital marketing is more cost-effective in promoting their local business than traditional marketing.
But the success of business digital marketing took time and effort in the beginning.
The history of digital marketing began with the launch of Archie, the first search engine, in 1990.
It was only in 1993 that the first clickable web-ad banner came to be.
E-commerce transactions in Newmarket started in 1994.
Because only a few households had computers with internet access in the 1990s, the success of digital marketing back then is incomparable to its success today.
Today, most Americans have access to the internet not only through computers or laptops but also through their mobile devices.
In fact, as of 2021, 85% of Americans own a smartphone!
Businesses can reach all these potential local customers via local online marketing in more ways than one.
So, if you’re still thinking twice about investing in an online marketing strategy, it’s time to make that crucial decision right now, or you will miss out on many opportunities.
The Importance of Local Online Marketing for Businesses
Your customers are online – this is undeniable.
Most likely, and more often than not, your customers are online no matter what your local business is.
They use the internet on their computers or mobile devices at least once or a few times daily.
Chances are, they will be searching for the service or product you are offering online.
Local businesses already using online marketing to promote their products and services are tapping into those potential local customers already.
Do not be left behind.
The Advantages of an Effective Local Online Marketing Strategy
As of 2022, there are more than 307 million internet users in the United States.
Because of this, there is no doubt that you should pay attention to your business’s online presence.
Among the many advantages of having an effective local digital marketing strategy are the following:
- Online Marketing is Cost-Effective – You will have to spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars for traditional marketing, such as newspaper ads, magazines, billboards, and television. Online marketing budgets do not even come close to this figure, especially if you hire a company that offers competitive digital marketing services.
- Online Marketing is Faster – Unlike waiting for potential customers to see your ad on a billboard or a newspaper, online marketing can help you reach your target market quickly – you can start the process immediately.
- Establish Your Brand – Exposure via traditional marketing is limited. You can only tell your customers so much in a one-page advertisement or a 15 or 30-second TV commercial. You can publish or post something new about your brand every day.
- Interact With Your Customers – Aside from the fact that you can get instant reactions from your customers, such as seeing comments from them on platforms where you placed your ad, you can also interact with consumers online!
- You Can See What Your Competitors Are Doing – Compare and improve. One of the best advantages of an online marketing plan is that you can easily and quickly see what your competition is doing and match it or be better.
- Enjoy Higher Revenues – Since you spend less on digital marketing, you can enjoy higher returns on investment when your local online marketing plan is done right.
What Happens When You Don’t Have a Local Online Marketing Plan?
Truth be told, some local businesses care less about local marketing and more about having a marketing plan.
Many rely on the good, old directory book, signs, and banners on their doors and windows, flyers delivered in neighborhoods, or word of mouth.
While all these are good and still effective in more ways than one, there’s much more to explore online.
Having a digital marketing plan will help your company grow significantly.
Without a marketing plan, your business’ growth can stop.
You might remain where you were when you started.
It will be difficult for you to reach your target market and new potential customers.
Even if you are satisfied with your old customers, considering some might not stay with you for good, you must still try to gain new ones.
A local marketing plan is one of the best ways to do this.
How to Get Started With Local Digital Marketing
You might have the best products to sell.
You might also have the highest quality services available.
No one will know about these things without local marketing.
We have already established the importance of having a local online marketing plan for your business.
Now, let’s learn more about how to get started.
1. Identify Your Target Market
Identifying your target market is as easy as determining whether you’re catering to residential or commercial customers or both.
However, identifying your market is usually not enough – you must know who your customers are so you will also learn how to attract them.
If you’re unsure of who your target market is, here are some quick tips to keep in mind:
- List down the problems you solve or the products you sell, then identify the people needing your solutions, services, or products the most.
- List down the characteristics of your ideal customers, including their age range, civic status, career, hobbies, problems, etc.
Please read and understand the list you created and compare them to real-life people.
This is the time you can build your target market personas.
These personas are just like imaginary people in your mind when you start creating your marketing materials.
This allows you to personalize your marketing efforts.
Create marketing materials like you are reaching out to these “imaginary people” and talking to them directly.
Tell them why they should hire you or buy from you.
Let them know why they need you and your business.
2. Pick the Platforms You Should Use for Your Local Online Marketing Campaign
The World Wide Web is so vast that you must plan, organize your thoughts and ideas, and create an excellent online marketing strategy before launching your marketing campaign.
You could try everything out if you have all the time, resources, and money to burn.
But any wise business owner would use their resources well and invest with practicality.
The U.S. Small Business Administration listed several local marketing strategies you can use to promote your local business.
Among them that can be considered online marketing are the following:
- Manage your listings in search engines
- Use social media to target your customers
- Be part of online pro groups in your industry
- Encourage your customers to share their feedback about your business
- Take advantage of local business directories
The list above might seem short and simple, but there’s more to it than just creating a few listings and going on Facebook to contact your customers.
Let’s check out other digital platforms and methods that can help you market your business.
Examples of Digital Platforms That Can Help Promote Your Local Business
Simply put, a digital or online platform is a platform where you can exchange information, goods, and services between businesses and consumers.
Some examples of digital platforms include social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, knowledge platforms like Quora and StackOverflow, media sharing platforms like YouTube, and service-oriented platforms like HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, and more.
Take advantage of digital platforms, as they can significantly help your local marketing efforts to succeed.
GMB or Google My Business
Create a free business listing on Google My Business or GMB.
Building your Google Business profile is the first and most important step you have to take when starting with your digital marketing strategy.
As long as you have a Google account, which you can also create for free, you can already be part of the local listings on GMB.
Since Google is, without a doubt, the biggest and most popular search engine, having a local listing on GMB can benefit your business.
Your GMB listing will allow your business to appear in Google Maps and Google Local Pack listings.
For example, suppose your potential customer searches for plumbers in Los Angeles as long as your GMB listing is updated. In that case, your business will appear on Google Local Pack, a large section usually on top of every search result.
Pay attention to your local SEO, which we will discuss in more detail later, to ensure that your business appears in at least the top 5 on the search results list.
It is also important to note that Google allows your customers to leave reviews for you and your business on your GMB listing – more great reviews mean greater chances of attracting new customers.
Social Media Platforms
The most prominent social media platform is Facebook. So, your business should have a Facebook account, as many consumers rely on social media for information.
Other social media platforms include Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
While it’s great to have your business on every social media platform, experts say that you don’t need to be everywhere if you can’t update all those platforms all the time.
It is best to focus on one or a few that you can constantly update and where you can most interact with your target audience.
A profile in business marketplaces or service-oriented digital platforms is crucial for every local business.
Your competitors are here.
Many potential customers search for a company to hire here.
You may lose those potential business opportunities if you don’t have a profile in these marketplaces.
Here are some examples of business marketplaces that cater to local businesses.
The biggest platform for businesses is HomeAdvisor, powered by Angi.
Remember Angie’s List from back in the day? It was where most of us acquired information about local businesses.
Angie’s list became so huge, and so did HomeAdvisor.
When these two marketplace giants merge, you can expect nothing less than limitless opportunities for local businesses like yours.
HomeAdvisor promises your target customers that they will get matched with local pros for any home project.
The most popular categories include everyday services, outdoor, exterior, interior, renovation, and more.
If you are a local business offering home services to your customers – home improvement, construction, or any similar service – you must have a HomeAdvisor profile.
Very similar to HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack is also an American home services website.
It is an online directory that lets users search, rate, and hire local service providers.
Categories include home improvement, financial services, legal services, event planning, etc.
Creating a profile on Thumbtack is free.
Once you have a profile, you will then have the option to buy leads.
Yelp is yet another digital platform that you can use to promote your business.
A local listing on Yelp enables you to reach more potential customers looking for services like yours on the platform.
Your customers can also leave reviews about your business on Yelp, which can help attract potential customers.
Furthermore, your visibility on local searches can increase when you have a business listing on Yelp.
Other Online Directories and Business Listings
Target local customers by having as many local listings as you can.
Plenty of online directories can help you turn up on local searches and help you with local SEO.
Your local online marketing campaign will never be complete without these listings.
Listing your company in all these directories can take time and effort.
Also, some of these directories can harm your local SEO efforts more than they can help.
That’s why it is always best to consult or hire a digital marketing expert to help you with this process.
A Professional Business Website
You need a business website – not just any kind – it must be professional.
You may already have all these listings and profiles on practically every social media platform.
But nothing beats professionalism and unlimited opportunities to showcase your brand and build a reputation than having your website.
Here, you can publish as many posts as you have and share as much information with your customers as you want to.
Also, your website can help with your business’s local SEO, so your company name will appear in local search results!
Local Landing Pages
Make sure to distinguish local landing pages from your website’s homepage.
While your website’s homepage encourages visitors to explore your website further, your local landing page focuses on a specific marketing campaign.
Once again, having local landing pages can attract more customers and increase your visibility in local search results.
Paid Online Advertising
Paid online advertising appears on websites, social media platforms, and other digital platforms.
The marketer will identify your target audience, and these online ads will appear on these target audience’s screens.
Some examples of paid online advertising include:
- PPC or Pay-Per-Click
- Google Ads
- Google Display
- Facebook Ads
- Twitter Ads
- LinkedIn Ads
3. Boost Your Local SEO
Local marketing refers to reaching your local business’ target audience within your service area.
Boost your local SEO or search engine optimization so your business listing or website appears on local search results.
Local searches on different search engines like Google or Yahoo will yield results for businesses similar to yours.
Working on your local SEO means your business listing appears on top of these search engines.
Ideally, you’d want your website or listing on the first page or at least the first few results of local searches.
4. Give Importance to Your Business Website
We couldn’t stress enough the importance of having a professional business website.
A professional business website that uses relevant keywords and shares valuable content will help you reach the top of local search results.
Of course, this will help you attract customers too, which is the very purpose of your marketing campaign.
Forbes lists down some of the top reasons every business needs a website:
- A professional website increases your organization’s credibility.
- A professional website allows you to showcase your brand to your potential customers.
- Your website will help you obtain leads.
- You can get organic traffic if your website is SEO-friendly. Again, this will help you get on top of local search results.
- A website can save you time – phone calls for irrelevant or unimportant inquiries can be decreased since your website already includes a lot of important information.
- Your website is never closed – it operates 24/7! You can upload updates and announcements here.
How do you ensure that you have a website that can help you with your local online marketing efforts?
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
Over 4.32 billion internet users used their mobile devices in 2021.
This means that more than 90% of the world’s population using the internet uses their mobile devices.
If this is the case, you must ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
It should be responsive, and views must adjust according to the screen size of your visitor’s mobile device.
Your Website Must Also Be SEO-Friendly
As mentioned above, an SEO-friendly website uses relevant keywords and has valuable information that can help your website receive organic traffic by being on top of local search results.
Aside from relevant keywords, other factors, such as backlinks that you can get from listings, social media sites, business marketplaces, and more, can also help you get better SEO results.
SEO is one of the most complex yet compelling digital marketing strategies.
Get assistance from an SEO professional if needed.
Localize Your Website
Once again, website localization seems very simple, as you need to research keywords and include all your local service areas within your website.
Though it seems quick and straightforward, it involves a lot of strategic planning and preparations.
You also need to do some market research and keyword research.
You will have to market your localized website when everything is done.
So, if you have one primary website and operate in different parts of the country, you will have to localize those other websites so that they cater to your local market too.
You Must Update Your Website
Constantly update your website.
It’s easy to get a bunch of content written and leave your website as is.
However, for it to rank organically, it needs regular updates.
You can add new pages or blog posts now and then.
Ensure all details, such as your contact information and address, are also updated.
Over the years, your site might also need to be updated, so it’s best to change it every few years.
You Must Have a Professional Looking Website
Last but not least, your website should look professional.
The look of your website gives a positive first impression to your audience.
Countless local businesses already have websites, so make sure yours appear aesthetically pleasing and professional on computer and mobile searches.
Does Local Online Marketing Work?
Local online marketing should be part of your digital marketing plan.
Local online marketing should be part of your strategy to get local consumers to hire your service or buy your product.
Having a social media presence is good, but more is needed.
Local online marketing is as good as getting foot traffic for your business.
Local online marketing does work, and it is something that you should take advantage of as a local business owner.
Not doing so makes you miss out on limitless opportunities and benefits your competitors enjoy.
Should You Invest in Local Online Marketing?
If you want to reach a local audience, then you must invest in local online marketing.
Marketing your business online has plenty of benefits, so it’s an excellent investment.
If you have already started internet marketing, you can calculate your ROI the same way you would for traditional marketing.
Use the formula below:
Increase in Revenue – Marketing Cost / Cost of Marketing
How Much Do Digital Marketing Services Cost?
Online marketing can cost you anywhere from $0 to millions of dollars.
So, create a marketing plan according to your budget or the amount you are willing to spend.
You can hire professionals or marketing agencies to do the job.
Why Should You Get Assistance From Digital Marketing Professionals?
Digital marketing takes time and effort.
You have to wait a while to see results unless you put a lot of focus on paid advertisements.
Marketing online is also not cheap.
You can quickly burn hundreds or even thousands of dollars within hours if you don’t use your marketing budget wisely.
It only worsens when you don’t get great results after spending all that money.
Especially for small businesses, hiring a digital marketing professional is best to ensure that the money spent on marketing is spent wisely.
You will get help from an experienced marketing specialist with years of experience and results to back them up.
This eliminates the need to go through trials and errors – saving you time, money, and effort.
Are Local Digital Marketing Efforts Worth It?
Spending money on marketing online is one thing.
Exerting the effort to do so is another.
Planning, preparing, and carrying out an online marketing campaign takes time and effort, but many local business owners like you believe in it.
When your search engine marketing efforts allow you to reach your target market in your local area, you know your efforts are worth it.
Reach Out to Your Local Community and Gain More Local Customers With Digital Marketing
If you want to promote your local business online to reach more local customers, you need to get started with online marketing.
Local search engine marketing allows you to increase your local business visibility – it’s as good as significantly increasing foot traffic in your physical location!
So, contact a local digital marketing company for guaranteed results.