How to Drive More Customers to Your Local Business Using Digital Marketing
In today’s digital world, every business needs an online presence. Many local businesses underestimate the importance of digital marketing, thinking it’s only for larger organizations or companies with clientele outside their local community. However, that’s not the case. Localized digital marketing can expand a business’s customer base, increase revenue, and help business owners better understand their consumers.
As a small business owner, it’s easier than ever to target customers in your local area and help them learn more about your business. That being said, there are specific areas of digital marketing that are important to include in your marketing strategy and others you’d be better off avoiding. Pinpointing the strategies that target prospective customers in your city should always be a top priority as a local business.
Here are some tips to help you grow your local business through digital marketing:
1. Set up a free listing with Google.
Start by creating a Google My Business account.
When people in your area are searching for a product or service, there’s an extremely high chance they’ll start by Googling it. Google has over 86% of the search market share, making it the top search engine in the world.
By setting up your free Google listing, it’s easier for customers to find you when they search for keywords related to your business. In fact, 76% of local mobile searches for something nearby result in a same-day in-store visit. Plus, Google query statistics show that there’s been a 500% growth in “near me” mobile searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” over the past two years.
Your listing will contain all of the information a consumer will need:
- Contact details
- Address and directions
- Business hours
- Direct link to your website
- Company description
You can also provide additional industry-specific information to give people a better understanding of your products and services.
Google My Business is also great for engagement and community. Customers can add photos and leave reviews and ratings on your profile, which can greatly influence the likelihood of someone purchasing your products or services. After all, reviews are a large part of a buyer’s process.
2. Verify your business information on Yelp.
Yelp is a widely used online directory for discovering and leaving reviews about local businesses—from restaurants and bars to plumbers, auto repair shops, accountants, and more. Listings are sorted by business type, and search results can be filtered by location, price range, and other unique features like the ability to order online, free Wi-Fi, or businesses that are currently running a promotion.
Like Google My Business, Yelp is an excellent way to start utilizing local SEO by organically making your business discoverable online.
Whether you’ve established a profile on Yelp or not, there’s a high likelihood that your customers have used this platform to write a review about your local business, which earns you a spot on the website and app. A recent study has shown that 92% of consumers make a purchase after visiting Yelp.
It’s important to visit your Yelp profile regularly and make sure that all of your information, such as your hours of operation, website, and address, are accurate. If a customer attempts to reach out to you and the phone number or address is wrong, it could harm your business’s reputation.
Claiming your business on Yelp is a great way to control the information in your listing while connecting with your customers and the community you’ve built.
3. Build a functional website.
Did you know that 75% of consumers judge a company’s credibility based on its website design? Regardless of the industry, building a great website is essential to a small business’s success. Here are some steps to get you started in the right direction.
Obtain a domain name.
Your domain name is like the sign on your building—it’s the entry point to your website, so it’s essential to make a good impression. Your domain name should be short, easy to remember, and have strong ties to the services/products you’re selling.
Purchase secure, scalable website hosting.
This is a vital step you’ll need to take before launching your website. A website hosting provider is a company that allocates space on a web server for a website to store its file and information. You connect your domain name to your hosting provider so that users can visit your website.
Popular website hosting companies:
Make your website user-friendly.
When users click on your website, their first impressions are 94% design-related. Visuals matter, so it’s important to use engaging graphics, readable fonts, and intuitive navigation. The best way to start is by doing competitor research to see how others in your industry have laid out their websites. Then, develop a sitemap to ensure you’re creating the most optimal user journey.
Choose a good e-commerce platform.
If you plan to sell goods or services online (which we strongly recommend), you’ll need specific technology that allows you to do so. With so many different platforms and styles to choose from, it’s important to find the one that best fits your unique business model.
Here are some widely used small business e-commerce platforms:
- Shopify Business
Optimize your website for search engines.
Simply put, SEO is a zero-cost way to help people find your website. Once your website is live, it’s crawled by search engines and compared with websites that have similar content. The stronger your website design and content are, the higher your site will appear on search engines, likeGoogle or Microsoft Bing results pages. There are tons of ways to optimize your website, but a great place to start is keyword research. Here’s a resource that can help!
4. Create social media profiles.
A great way to connect with consumers in your area is through social media. It’s important to identify the platforms your specific clientele are using the most and start establishing an active presence. Here are a few platforms you can start with:
Currently, there are more than 65 million businesses using Facebook pages and more than two billion individuals utilizing the platform each month. That’s nearly a third of the world’s population!
Having a Facebook Business page can help users find and connect with your business via a platform they’re already using every day. Plus, users can leave reviews, check in to your business while on-site, and recommend your products/services to their network through their pages. Here’s a great resource from Facebook on how to get started.
Like Facebook, Instagram (which is actually owned by Facebook!) is one of the top social media platforms to date. According to Hootsuite, 81% of people use Instagram to research products and services, creating a great opportunity for business owners to grow their customer base.
Instagram allows business pages to show their brand personality, engage with their community, share contact information, and even sell directly through the platform. Here’s a guide to help you create a business profile.
If YouTube isn’t your thing, Tik Tok is a great alternative for video creators. Tik Tok allows users to create short, 60-second or-less videos and has a variety of filters and effects to guide your content creation process. Plus, there are plenty of ongoing trends you can put your own spin on, which can lead to a great deal of success in a very short period of time.
There’s even a Creator’s Fund, which allows you to monetize your videos once you reach a certain follower and video view threshold. Like all platforms, posting consistently is key, but Tik Tok can be a great way to connect with your community in an easygoing, relatable way.
Tips for Social Media Strategy
There are plenty of other platforms to explore, but the key to social media marketing is starting slow. Choose a few (two to three) core platforms that your target customers are using, think through content themes you can utilize each week, and begin building out a regular publishing schedule. To gain followers and page views, it’s important to stick to a consistent schedule, so be sure not to bite off more than you can chew.
If you choose to create business accounts on multiple social media platforms and are starting to feel overwhelmed, there is a solution. Scheduling toolslike Hootsuite and Agorapulse are designed to manage multiple platforms and accounts simultaneously, so you can plan your content ahead of time and keep your accounts active automatically. Most tools are very affordable, costing $20-50 a month if you’re the only one using it and support ten or less social media profiles.
5. Start building an email list.
Email marketing is much more effective than you may think. Research shows that 81% of small business owners say email marketing drives customer acquisition, with 80% saying their email marketing efforts were successful in retaining customers.
There are plenty of affordable, simple-to-use email marketing platforms on the market. Some of the most common platforms for small businesses are Constant Contact, Mailchimp, GetResponse, and ActiveCampaign.
Email marketing platforms allow you to design and distribute promotions, business updates, and key information to your prospects and core customer lists, in other words, it’s a great way to grow your business. The best part? They allow you to track and collect metrics from your email campaigns to determine how well they perform and which of your contacts are most engaged. This allows you to adjust and improve your marketing efforts and follow-up with contacts who are most likely to purchase your products.
Here are a few easy ways you can start building your email marketing lists:
- Use popups on your website
- Run a promotion or contest
- Advertise your business on Facebook
- Create gated content using an eBook, checklist, or coupon that requires users to fill out a form before downloading
Taking the First Step
As a local business primarily operating through brick-and-mortar marketing tactics, even implementing one or two of these digital marketing tips can make a major impact on your growth. Take a look at your current marketing strategy and strategically make adjustments based on your specific needs.
While these suggestions can make a major impact, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for more in-depth digital marketing skills for your small business, it may be time to enroll in a specialized digital marketing bootcamp. Bootcamps can help you grow your skills through real-world, simulation-based exercises in combination with exposure to the industry’s top marketing platforms. This type of training is vital in today’s digital world and can help you gain the digital marketing knowledge needed to grow your business exponentially.
Interested in learning more about digital marketing for small businesses? Explore the NC State Digital Marketing Bootcamp!
Why This Bootcamp?
In less than one year, the NC State Digital Marketing Bootcamp transforms learners into digital marketing professionals through immersive lectures, individual and group projects, virtual exercises, and real-world simulations.
The curriculum trains students for the industry’s most in-demand marketing tactics, including search engine optimization (SEO), data analytics, email marketing, digital strategy, content writing, and more. Courses are taught by industry experts who are active in the field, and the curriculum is consistently updated to reflect the most current digital marketing practices.
Fully virtual, synchronous classrooms with weekend and evening course schedules help to accommodate busy schedules and provide increased flexibility for working professionals.
Enroll here or fill out the form below to speak to an advisor and ask about our Introductory Course!