Most businesses are local businesses who serve their local communities. For certain, some businesses are larger and serve a wider area, or are niche and serve their niche. This article is about digital marketing for local businesses using local social media and SEO.

In the current economic climate, in the midst of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for local businesses to capture as much of their local market as possible. That means using all the tools in your digital toolbox in a structured and methodical way. 

Your digital toolbox

The tools in your digital toolbox I am talking about are:

  • Social media
  • Website
  • Messaging

So let’s take a look at each of them individually. Then talk about how you should be integrating your approach to using them.

Social media

Social media is a phenomenally powerful mechanism for reaching your community, your potential customers. You have a wide choice of platforms to choose from, and some may suit your business whereas some may not. 

Picking the right platforms for your business is key to your social media success. In most cases, less is more. Don’t forget, you need to manage your social media. So if you’re on every platform, it will take too much effort to be good at any of them.

Just like the old adage for tradesmen, if you are a jack-of-all-trades you will be a master-of-none. There are lots of social media platforms, and it is really important that you know what their strengths are.

Social cloud

For most local businesses an engaging Facebook presence is going to be essential. With 2+ billion monthly active users and a strong local community focus, Facebook is one of the most important platforms. 

If your business has visual content, either still or moving then Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat may help drive customers to your website. Consider using YouTube, Facebook Live, IGTV and TikTok. Your content has to be tailored to each platform, you can’t just post the same thing to all of them.

If what you provide is more service-oriented, and less visual, then Facebook and Twitter may be a better combination.

Website

When designing and implementing a website, you need to think about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) right from the outset. Don’t have just one page with all your products or services listed on there. Break it down into individual product or service offering pages and have a menu page linking out to the individual services.

Responsive website design

The reason you want individual pages is that they are more likely to rank on search engines. They will be easier to find by your customers if they are detailed and specific. You should go to town on the keywords and meta-information to make sure they have the best possible chance of ranking especially in your local area. But you don’t want to dilute an individual service page with all your services, as it will push it down the results.

SEO makes your site easier and more logical to navigate, creates a bigger site with more content. That builds engagement and lowers your bounce rate (that’s the users who visit one page and then leave). You want a lower bounce rate because it’s valued by search engines and puts your content higher up the results.

With upwards of 80% of website access now from mobile devices and tablets it’s imperative that your website is designed as a mobile-first.

Messaging

Messaging can be either what you think of as a messaging app such as Facebook Messenger, What’s App, SMS. However, the most important and powerful messaging mechanism of all is email.

The holy grail of your marketing effort is to build a robust email list of customers and potential customers. Nobody can your email list away from you. So delivery of your content is 100% guaranteed if the customer is still there.

Email that just works... everywhere - virtco®

In contrast social media often only delivers your posts to a small percentage of your followers. Even then they need to notice it in their feed. Email, however, sticks around and stays in their inbox unless they delete it.

Organic vs. paid

This should not be an either-or option, the most effective strategy is a combination of organic reach and paid adverts.

Absolutely you want to get as much organic traffic as you can, it’s free after all. Organic traffic is more valuable because it comes from word of mouth, referral or simply the quality of your content. 

But, you need to augment your strategy with some paid advertising. Advertise to find new customers and reach people who haven’t heard of you before. Use the tools and analytics you have available to you and target your advertising to customer look-alikes. Those are people or businesses that have similar characteristics to your existing customers.

Putting it all together

To make your marketing effective you really must integrate it across all the platforms and tools. Then you should also be analysing the data and doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t work. That data comes from something called “analytics”, which is a whole subject on its own. Analytics will show you exactly what the effects are of your digital activity.

Local Social Media and SEO

If you already have customers, you should start with finding out what platforms they’re on then engage with them there. So if they’re all using Facebook or Twitter, then you should be on Facebook and Twitter. Keep your branding consistent and link between platforms wherever possible.

Next build out your website, thinking about the SEO aspects right from the outset. Again keeping your branding consistent with your social media accounts. Always link from your profile pages on social media to your website. But include some technical analytic information called (UTM parameters) so you can see what’s working in your analytics.

Analytics

If you’re using Facebook or Instagram and may possibly do some advertising on any of Facebook’s platforms in the future. Then make sure you have a Facebook Pixel set up on your website and anywhere else you can put one.

Local targeting

So the title of this article includes “An integrated local approach”. Well you should have some of the integration worked out now, how about the local bit. In your keywords think about your local area, how would local people find your products or services. 

A lot of folks are going to be a member of a local social media group or page on Facebook. They may follow a local hashtag on Twitter or Instagram. You need to think in terms of local social media and SEO. So a good place for you to be, and engage with potential customers is in those groups and posting with local (town-name) hashtags.

Local SEO

Most likely if they haven’t seen your posts on social media already they’re going to do a search. On Google they will type in whatever you are offering and where they are located. So make sure you include the area(s) you service in your website keywords. Don’t use a separate one though, make sure you include it with a typical search phrase for your target areas. Use something like “xyz services town-name” and “abc widgets city-district”. That way when someone types the services you offer for their area they are more likely to find you.

If you want more help then we offer consultancy services and our new digital marketing management plan where we look after your social media for you. Call me today on  +44 7585 045711 or use the contact form.


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